THE untimely death of King George VI at the age of 56 came as a complete shock to the people of the United Kingdom.
His passing on February 6 1952 left the people of Kirkcaldy “stunned” according to the Fife Free Press.
We reported that: “Housewives contacted their neighbours and many telephoned their menfolk at work.
Acquaintances and even complete strangers stopped each other in the street with the query: “Have you heard the news?” or “Is it true...?”
“The news brought work to a complete standstill in many premises.
Cinemas and entertainments were closed in the burgh. Flags were flown at half-mast at all the public works, municipal chambers, army headquarters and other premises throughout the town.”
Provost James Young called a special meeting of the Town Council paying tribute to the late King.
He sent a telegram to the Queen Mother which said; “On behalf of the citizens of the royal Burgh of Kirkcaldy, I tender sincere sympathy to Your Majesty and members of the Royal Family in your sad bereavement.”
Kirkcaldy resident Michael Hogg remembers hearing the news. “I was in class sitting silently waiting for the start of the BBC Home weekly musical broadcast for schools.
‘‘On the hour instead of the usual theme tune a very stern sounding voice announced with deep regret, the passing of the King.
“I can still hear that formal announcement as if it were today.”
The proclamation of the accession of Princess Elizabeth to Queen was made by Provost Young at the Police Station on St Brycedale Avenue just a few days later on Monday February 11.
Amongst the crowd was May Aird of Forth Park Gardens.
She said “It was a nice day, and it wasn’t raining or windy.
‘‘The Provost, who was wearing his red cloak, came out on to the steps of the building and read out the notice and that was it.
“There was no music or entertainment, just the reading of the statement then we all had to go back to work.”
The funeral of the King was one of the first major events to be screened on television.
The Press reported: “Desperate efforts were made by the GPO and the BBC Television to provide a service to licence-holders in Scotland.
‘‘Reception was good in Edinburgh, while in Kirkcaldy and Kinghorn “F.F.P.” representatives can vouch for the clarity of the pictures.”
Memorial services were held throughout the day and a two minute silence was observed all over the country at 2 o’clock.
“At Kirkcaldy the first mourners arrived in Kirk Wynd before the two minute silence and before the service was due to commence the public seats in Kirkcaldy Old Church were crowded, and many citizens had to take up vantage points to watch the procession from the Council Chambers, led by three public officers.”