Royal praise for Fife workmanship and design in 1965

Lord Snowdon in Kirkcaldy, February 1965
Lord Snowdon in Kirkcaldy, February 1965

The Earl of Snowdon had high praise for Kirkcaldy workmanship and design when he toured furniture and linoleum works during a visit to the town in February 1965.

It was the second day of a four-day Scottish tour by the Royal to study design developments, to bring to the notice of Scottish manufacturers the services of the council of industrial design, with which he was associated.

Lord Snowdon spent five hours in Kirkcaldy, touring the works of A. H. McIntosh & Co. – one of Scotland’s leading furniture manufacturing firms at the time – and

visited the head office and two of the factories of Nairn-Williamson, Ltd., the linoleum company.

At McIntosh’s, he told reporters that he had been greatly impressed by the high standard of workmanship and design of the furniture he had seen.

He understood that some of it was shortly to be exhibited at the International Handicraft and Trade Fair in Munich, and he hoped that it would meet there with the success it deserved.

The quality was far better than that usually produced and the best he had seen, he said.

“The workers were interested not only in the manufacture of the furniture, but also in the design of it,” he added.

During his visit to Nairn-Williamson’s Lord Snowdon saw some of the latest designs and processes used in the manufacture of hard surface floor coverings.

He was shown coverings which had been developed since the war, and showed special interest in two ranges of printed vinyl coverings.

Upon his arrival in town Lord Snowdon was received by McIntosh’s chairman and managing director George Fergusson who accompanied the Earl on his tour, where he met foremen of the various departments, whose service ranged from 14 years to 56 years.

After lunch, although he was already behind schedule, Lord Snowdon specially

requested to be shown an eight minute colour film of the firm’s golf outing at Aberdour in 1964 and the launching at Kinghorn of boats belonging to the company’s sailing club.

The film was shown by Mr William Wright, of Atholl Terrace, Kirkcaldy, a 36-year-old furniture inspector with McIntosh’s as well as the official photographer for the factory.

The Royal visitor said he was very impressed by the film and complimented Mr Wright on his presentation.

It was after three o’clock, some 35 minutes behind schedule when Lord Snowdon and party left McIntosh’s for Nairn-Williamson’s.

On arrival he was received by the chairman of the company Sir George Nairn, who had just arrived back from a business trip to America.

He was then shown pattern ranges of traditional hard surface floor coverings, linoleum and the various colour ranges, some of which had been introduced 20 to 30 years earlier, while others were then new.

After tea Lord Snowdon left Kirkcaldy for Glasgow, almost an hour behind schedule.

Sir George said he was particularly interested in Lord Snowdon’s reaction to the development of photographic techniques as a means of inspiring the


The Earl’s interest and enthusiasm had been stimulating and very encouraging, he added.