Nostalgia: Viewforth High School gutted by fire

The aftermath of the Viewforth fire in 1977
The aftermath of the Viewforth fire in 1977

A mystery blaze caused an estimated £100,000 worth of damage at a Kirkcaldy school – only a week after a fire bomb was thrown through one of its classroom windows.

The fire occurred in the early hours of May 15, 1977 Sunday morning at Viewforth Junior High School in Loughborough Road.

Four classrooms were gutted and a fifth badly damaged in an annexe of temporary wooden buildings some distance from the stone-built main school.

The blaze was reported a few minutes after six o’clock on the Sunday morning and the fire spread quickly through the buildings, destroying books, furnishings and other equipment.

Three units of Fife Fire Brigade – two from Kirkcaldy and the other from Thornton – spent hours tackling the outbreak and it was 10am before they left.

The buildings accommodated two history rooms, a classical studies room, a religious education room and a technical studies room, with a total of 150 pupils involved at any one time.

CID officers were called in immediately, and they began searching through the charred remains of the classrooms for clues as to the cause of the fire.

The police confirmed that were also looking into an incident the previous week when a fire bomb had been thrown through a window of an art room in the school’s main building.

And if that wasn’t enough, on the night of Friday, May 13 – less than 36 hours before the fire – the school had been broken into.

The fire left Viewforth and the education authorities with a major headache as the accommodation at the school was stretched to the limit.

On the Monday morning a spokesman for the school told the Fife Free Press: “Five classrooms are a lot to do without, but today we have managed to cope with the timetable without sending any pupils home.

“The problem is made a bit more difficult because the assembly hall is being used for ’O’ level examinations just now, but there is a dining hall available for use.

“Today, we have had an attendance rate of about 90 per cent, but if some day no-one is off school, we could be in trouble.”

He added: However, the next official leaving date for the pupils is May 31, so this could relieve matters for the remainder of the school term.”

The blaze was the latest in a spate of fire raising which had occurred across Kirkcaldy in the mid 1970s.

In 1975 more than £700,000 worth of damage was caused by fires involving two schools and two churches in the town.

The main part of Torbain Primary School was completely destroyed, as was St John’s Parish Church, and fires at Kirkcaldy High School and the Mormon Church in Winifred Crescent were thank extinguished before gaining a hold.

That same year the Co-op on the High Street was also badly fire damaged.

A 16-year-old local youth was later sentenced to six years’ detention in a young offenders’ institution when he admitted setting fire to the schools and churches.