Historic 1977 Sunday opening for Kirkcaldy pubs - how few remain today

Kirkcaldy was one of the first towns to embrace Sunday drinking – and the controversial move turned out to be a bit of a flop.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 3:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 3:48 pm
Penny Farthing, Kirkcaldy - 1977 - regulars toast the arrival of Sunday opening

Pubs were only given permission to open on the Sabbath in October 1977.
Kirkcaldy District Licensing Board was among the first in Scotland to approve the move.

At its Friday meeting, it granted permission for 65 pubs to open that Sunday – 26 of them in Kirkcaldy.

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1977 - first pubs in Kirkcaldy to be granted Sunday opening licences. Kirkcaldy & District Licensing Board among first in Scotland to sanction the move - the Old Worlde Pub was one of a number which opened.

While the landmark decision was welcomed, it came so quickly, that fewer than a dozen actually opened their doors.

Reported the Fife Free Press: “The situation must have been confusing for anyone wanting a drink, but the pubs which did open were not complaining.”

The historic moment came at 12:30 pm on the Sunday when eleven pubs served their first Sunday pints.

Interestingly, they were all concentrated on the seaward side of the town – either in the vicinity of the High Street and harbour, or in Pathhead

The pubs which broke new ground were: the Penny Farthing, Auld Hoose, Marine Bar, Foc’sie Bar, Fifeshire Tavern, Cutty sark, Harbour Bar, Path Tavern, Feuars Arms, St Clair Tavern, and Harrow’s Tavern.

That total was reduced by one in the evening when the Feuars decided not to open at night.

Without exception they reported that their premises had been busy on Sunday, and that trade had been very very good.

David Westwood, president of Kirkcaldy Licensed Trade Association, said he was surprised so few opened.

“I think the reason must simply have been confusion on the part of publicans and the public that premises could open,” he said. “The board only met on the Friday to discuss the applications and there is usually a time lapse before such things come into force

“As the weeks go by, and the public realises pubs are open, we will see an overall pattern develop as to what the demand is likely to be”

Four more pubs – the Novar Bar, Randolph Tavern, Olde World Inn and the Dutch Mill - indicated they intend to open in week two.

Another quartet – Kirkcaldy Ice Rink, Clem’s Bar, Lister Bar and the Fourways - intend to open “soon.”

The remaining Kirkcaldy pubs granted Sunday licences - the White Heather Roadhouse, Chapel Tavern, Fife Arms, The Buccaneers, Country Inn, Templehall Tavern, and Alpha Bar – are all owned by brewery firms and will not open on a Sunday until agreement has been reached with staff over wages.

As a footnote, the day after the historic first Sunday opening, Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital hosted a major conference on Scotland, and Fife’s, growing social problem ...alcoholism!