The day Prime Minister James Callaghan visited AH McIntosh in 1977

In September 1977 Prime Minister James Callaghan made a visit to Kirkcaldy furniture manufacturers A. H. McIntosh.
In September 1977 Prime Minister James Callaghan made a visit to Kirkcaldy furniture manufacturers A. H. McIntosh.

In September 1977 the then Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan paid a visit to Kirkcaldy.

The purpose of the PM’s trip was a tour around the premises of the town’s furniture manufacturers, AH McIntosh.

The Prime Minister’s appearance in the Lang Toun was part of a six-day visit and he travelled to Fife from Edinburgh especially to see the Kirkcaldy factory.

His trip was sandwiched between lunch with members of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and an evening meeting with the Scottish Executive of the Labour Party.

Accompanied by his wife, Audrey, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, Bruce Millan, Mr Callaghan arrived outside Mclntosh’s some 15 minutes late.

However it wasn’t an entirely warm welcome that lay in wait at the entrance to the firm’s Mitchelston Industrial Estate premises – two different groups of protestors were also there to voice their displeasure towards the Prime Minister.

As Mr Callaghan stepped from his car he was confronted by members of the Aberdour and Dalgety Bay Joint Action Group, who drew Mr Callaghan’s attention to the proposed petro-chemical works at Moss Morran and the tanker terminal at Braefoot Bay.

Also present were members of the Redpath-Dorman-Long Action Group, led by Councillor George Cation, chairman of Kirkcaldy District Council’s planning committee, who, along with hundreds of others, had recently been made redundant by the closure of the firm’s oil rig construction yard at Methil.

Mr Callaghan was given an official welcome from Mr Parker, chairman of Mclntosh’s and Mr Adams, the managing director.

Mr and Mrs Callaghan viewed pieces of furniture on display before being introduced to Mr WH McIntosh, grandson of the company’s founder.

The Prime Minister and his party then retired to the boardroom for coffee before commencing a tour of the factory and the apprentice training school.

There, Mr Callaghan saw first and second year apprentices being taught the basics of their trade and stopped to chat to James Murrie (17) and 16-year-old John Allah, who had only started work with the company that week.

Accompanying the Prime Minister were Mr Gourlay, MP for Kirkcaldy; Sir George Sharp, convener of Fife Regional Council; and Councillor Robert King, convener of Kirkcaldy District Council.

Mr Callaghan then left the party of visitors, reporters and photographers to talk for a few moments with members of the canteen staff; Euphemia Pheely, Alice Reid and Margaret Birrell, before being shown the whole furniture making process from raw material to the finished product.

During his 90-minute tour of the factory floor, he spoke to many members of the workforce and, speaking to the Fife Free Press before leaving for Edinburgh, he gave the reasons for his visit.

”I want to see more exports from this country,” he said, ”and the McIntosh management are working hard to develop more overseas markets.”

“I wanted to see this factory for myself. They are a progressive company who have a great deal to offer.

”They are doing a good production job, enjoy good labour relations and are generally the kind of firm I want to encourage.

“I want to see more exports from this country and the McIntosh management are working hard to develop more overseas markets.”

Asked if he had any McIntosh furniture in his own home, the Prime Minister replied: “No, I can’t afford it!”