How Kirkcaldy Town House celebrated its 50th anniversary

Kirkcaldty Town Square 1953 - decorated for coronation of The Queen
Kirkcaldty Town Square 1953 - decorated for coronation of The Queen

The Town House is one of Kirkcaldy’s most notable buildings.

In 2003, it celebrated its 50th anniversary with a host of events that included everything from a German beer festival to vintage cars and belly dancing.

2003 - Kirkcaldy Town Square  50th anniversary celebrations (Pic: Bob Mackie, Fife Free Press)

2003 - Kirkcaldy Town Square 50th anniversary celebrations (Pic: Bob Mackie, Fife Free Press)

It was a far cry from the very formal celebrations which marked the opening of the building by guest of honour Lord Home, Minister Of State for Scotland, and later Prime Minister.

In 1953, formality was the order of the day with a large procession and a welcoming party consisting of the magistrates of the Burgh in their finery.

The first stage of the work had, according to the Fife Free Press, “gained the admiration of the townspeople” – and expectations were high for the completion of phase two.

It was hoped the expansive Town Square would become a focal point for important burgh events.

2003 - Kirkcaldy Town Square  50th anniversary celebrations. Fashion show by Fife College students (Pic: Bob Mackie, Fife Free Press)

2003 - Kirkcaldy Town Square 50th anniversary celebrations. Fashion show by Fife College students (Pic: Bob Mackie, Fife Free Press)

The building in use today isn’t the first Town House.

Little, if anything, is known about the first of the four municipal headquarters.

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The second was built on the High Street in 1678, complete with a steeple, a clock, a bell ... and the town gaol!

It was replaced in 1826 by a new building which lasted until 1935 before being demolished to make way for the regeneration of the town centre. Its site was occupied by M&S until the store closed earlier this year.

2003 - Kirkcaldy Town Square  50th anniversary celebrations (Pic: Bob Mackie, Fife Free Press)

2003 - Kirkcaldy Town Square 50th anniversary celebrations (Pic: Bob Mackie, Fife Free Press)

Back then, the idea was to build a new Town House, but it took almost 20 years before a civic centre was once again at the heart of the Lang Toun.

While plans were drawn up, the business of the burgh was conducted from various locations including Stanley Park, and Osbourne House.

The aim was to use these premises for just a few years – by 1937 councillors had accepted plans for a new home, and, two years later, work was ready to start.

And then war broke out.

While preparation work started, the project was put on hold, and it wasn’t until 1949 that it recommenced.

Exterior stone came from Northumberland, while the white and cream marble for the staircase came from Italy.

By the time the building opened, costs had soared from an original £90,000 to £250,000.

The Town House was topped off with a 20-foot weather vane depicting St Brysse to symbolise Kirkcaldy, standing beside a tree which represented Dysart.

Fast forward to 2003, and the Golden Jubilee celebrations which co-incided with the 40th anniversary of the town’s twinning links with Ingolstadt.

The celebrations featured a reunion of Lang Toun Lads and Lasses through the years, and a display of fashions through the decades from Fife College students.

The Town Square also hosted an extravaganza which featured 1500 Kirkcaldy schoolchildren in a special ‘Rock Around The Clock;’ event.

It featured music, dance and songs with a 1950s theme, and included a rendition of the famous Kirkcaldy poem, The Boy On the Train.

The twin town celebrations brought a German beer festival to town, complete with oompah bands.

And the Fife Free Press also played its part, organising a pub quiz which featured teams from 11 local hostelries taking part with the winners going through to a grand final at The Abbey Hotel.