Appeal to save historic clock in Kirkcaldy town centre

David Galloway with the M&S clock
David Galloway with the M&S clock

A former businessman who traded and lived in Kirkcaldy High Street for decades is calling for a historic local landmark to be maintained.

David Galloway, who is vice chairman of Kirkcaldy Civic Society, says that the old clock on the wall outside the former Marks and Spencer store should be kept by whoever takes over the building, which was built by the retail giant more than 80 years ago.

High Street - Kirkcaldy - FiFe 'Marks & Spencer clock -'credit- Fife Photo Agency

High Street - Kirkcaldy - FiFe 'Marks & Spencer clock -'credit- Fife Photo Agency

The shop unit was built on the site of the former Kirkcaldy Town Hall which dominated the High Street from 1827 until it was demolished by Marks & Spencer to make way for its new store in 1935. The shop opened to the public three years later.

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The town hall had a tower and clock, known locally as the Toon Nock, and when it was knocked down the retailer undertook to include a new electric clock on the wall to replace the Toon Nock, agreeing to maintain it for the people of the Lang Toun.

However, in the weeks leading up to the closure of Marks & Spencer on February 5 the power supply to the clock was switched off and it stopped at 7.17.

This week Mr Galloway, who ran The Pet Shop in the High Street, now owned by his son Kenneth, and who lived with his wife Helen in a flat above Henderson the jeweller’s, from 1956 until 2013, said he had gone into Marks & Spencer on the day it closed to speak to the manager about what was to become of the clock.

“He told me that the power supply to the clock had been shut off to save money and that the question of what was to happen to it was ‘up to the new landlord’,” said Mr Galloway.

“I’m not sure who the landlord is, but I would hope that anyone taking on the building would keep the clock going.

“It has been a major focal point for the Lang Toun High Street since the days of the old Toon Nock and for many decades it was the designated meeting place to see in the Bells every Hogmanay, although that now happens in the town square.

“It was also where people congregated for celebrations and I remember seeing an old photograph of people celebrating the relief of Mafeking in 1900 during the Boer War there.

“Right next to it is a slab marking the old Mercat Cross, although it has been called the ‘market stance’ which makes it sound like a bus stop.”

And Mr Galloway said that with many of the original shops which were the mainstay of the High Street now gone, it was more important than ever to maintain the town’s history.

“I was the last president of the Kirkcaldy Chamber of Commerce and I fought for the High Street sculptures, the Christmas lights and against pedestrianisation which I think ruined the High Street, so it would be good to be able to preserve this piece of history.”

A spokesman for M&S said that the building had been sold by the company to the current landlord, investment firm Fortress, in 2001.

“We are continuing to discuss the future of the building with the landlord and we’ll update the community when we can,” she said.

“Responsibility for the future of the clock will now rest with them.”