Kirkcaldy’s Linton Lane Centre is preparing to celebrate 50 years in its current premises with a host of events including an exhibition, tea dance, dance production and live band nights.
And it is looking forward to welcoming back many former members, some dating back to before it came to its current premises, when it was still Kirkcaldy Boys’ Club.
What is now called the Linton Lane Centre, cost £18,500 to build and was officially opened by Lord Elphinstone, president of the Scottish Association of Boys’ Clubs, in April 1966. The premises were specifically designed for what was then the Kirkcaldy Boy’s Club.
The club moved from its previous home in Rose Street (near to where Marks & Spencer is now) because the old building which was part of the corn exchange, was being demolished as part of a town centre redevelopment scheme.
Boys’ clubs were set up during the 1920s, starting out at the Liberty Boys to provide a place for boys aged 15-21 to meet and enjoy recreational and social activities.
The Kirkcaldy Boys’ Club, originally the Rost Street Boys’ Club, went on to develop many talented footballers and boxers, as well as including judo, fencing, basketball, gymnastics and arts and crafts in its repertoire.
During the 70s and 80s this was expanded to include snooker, holiday clubs, guitar and other music groups, as its role changed from being just a boys’ club to allowing females to join its ranks.
When the new centre opened membership of the club stood at 86, but the club’s leader Jim Raitt hoped to more than double that in the new building.
Opening the new Boys’ Club’s home, Lord Elphinstone told members: “These new premises and the opportunities they give you; offer you a bigger challenge than ever before to prove, if it needs proving, that the youth of Kirkcaldy are good citizens and not vandals and delinquents who we read and hear about in other parts of the country.”
It was not until the early 1990s that the Boys’ Club dropped its name and became the Linton Lane Centre to reflect the changing services it offered to families rather than just young people in the area, although many people who used it throughout their youth still refer to it as the boys’ club.
It is now run by a voluntary committee.
And as well as continuing to run youth groups and recreational activities, nowadays it offers everything from a toddler and pensioners’ group to a daily food bank, dance and drama group and a Saturday Polish school, as well as hosting many fundraising and community events.
Over the last few years it has undergone total refurbishment inside and out, with money raised through grants, Lottery funding and fundraising.
And the building’s roof, which has blown off three times in its 50 year history, is now deemed to be secure, having been fixed with extra long nails!
Mandy Henderson, who has been in charge at Linton Lane for 20 years, recalls her memories:
“I started in July 1996 in the post as centre supervisor employed by Fife Council for 25 hours to support the committee, ensuring the programme being offered to the community was meeting all its needs.
“Over the last 20 years my role and the centre inside and out have changed immensely. I now work for 40 hours over seven days, I am employed by the committee and my title is centre development manager, but the aims have stayed the same – working and supporting the families of Templehall. I work closely with all of the groups and users of the centre, support individuals, and a large part of the job is to seek grants for any development of the building or new groups.
“It is a difficult time for all charities, with more and more groups needing funding. Family incomes are very tight which is why I think celebrating the fact a voluntary managed centre has remained in the heart of the community for 50 years is a huge achievement.
“Many people tell me their stories about their childhood spent at ‘The Boys Club’ and I hope many will tell stories with the same warmth and happy memories about their times in Linton Lane Centre.”
Norman Clark, chairman of the voluntary management committee for over 30 years, added: “I first came to the club in 1982 when I began coming to the centre, as many did, as a user, in my case to run a club using the main hall. From that start, I joined the committee and have been here since, firstly as treasurer and now the chairperson.
“I have seen a number of significant changes over the years. The club has had highs and lows and I remember coming in one day after a major storm to find most of the roofing scattered over the car park and down Valley Gardens! However I have also seen the building expanded, renovated and improved – a building ready for another 50 years.”
Celebrations will take place throughout April, the month when the centre first opened its doors.
Wednesday, April 13, 1-3pm: The Grey Panthers pensioners’ group very aptly kicks off the programme with an afternoon of nostalgia and music from Tam the Hat.
Friday, April 15, 5-7pm: Family party with Mr Barking and Rosie’s Disco.
Saturday, April 16, 8pm-midnight: 60s party night with Cousin Ken’s Nephews and Saffron Disco.
Sunday, April 17, 1-3pm: Stages Dance School presents ‘Dance Through the Years’ with K107 radio roadshow.
Wednesday, April 20, 1-9pm: Archive open day with photos, videos and memories from throughout the years. AGM at 7pm, all welcome.
Saturday, April 23, 8pm-midnight: Anniversary Dance with Lights Out by Nine plus support.
Sunday, April 24, 12.30-2.30pm: Community Sunday Lunch from Hosting Hope.
For more details on any of the events, including tickets prices, call the centre on (01592) 643816.