Kirkcaldy history in focus with major new exhibition

Original members of Kirkcaldy Photographic Society on a field trip to Aberdour 1898
Original members of Kirkcaldy Photographic Society on a field trip to Aberdour 1898

The changing face of Kirkcaldy‘s buildings, streets and landmarks over the last 120 years is the centre point of a major new three-month exhibition opening this weekend.

Over 200 wonderful ‘then and now’ images, capturing key locations across the Lang Toun, are being displayed – so you can see just how much (or little!) has changed over the decades.

Photographic Society  members Stewart Russell, Stefan Czemerys, chairman Cathy Davis and Martin Watt. (Pic FPA)

Photographic Society members Stewart Russell, Stefan Czemerys, chairman Cathy Davis and Martin Watt. (Pic FPA)

And the images are suitably complemented by an extensive collection of historic camera equipment stretching back to the 1890s, which has been put together as part of the launch of Kirkcaldy Photographic Society’s 120th anniversary celebrations.

Society members have been putting the final touches to the new show after being given two rooms in the upper floor of Kirkcaldy Galleries.

With one room dedicated to historic photographs of the town and its surroundings, many of which are being put on public display for the very first time, the second will be used to display the society’s annual members’ photographic exhibition for 2018/19.

It’s the culmination of nearly two years of painstaking research by the society to identify and collect images ahead of the exhibition’s opening on Saturday.

One of the many antique cameras on show. (Pic FPA).

One of the many antique cameras on show. (Pic FPA).

“It’s been a labour of love and exhaustive but now it’s all come together it’s been worh it,” explains Cathy Davis, society chairman, who has overseen much of the project.

“It offers a unique celebration of the town spanning the last 120 years, since Kirkcaldy Photographic Society was formed back in November 1898, and I’m sure it will prove a huge hit with the public.”

The group was formed on November 3, 1898, after an advert was placed in the local newspaper calling for the formation of a photographic organisation for likeminded enthusiasts in the town.

The club will be celebrating its 120th year with a calendar of events over the coming months.

David Storrar - First chairman of Kirkcaldy Photographic Society 1898.

David Storrar - First chairman of Kirkcaldy Photographic Society 1898.

“It’s a very exciting time for the society, as we have our gallery exhibition, which will run for three months until March 2019, and we’ve also just had a visit by world-renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite, which was a huge result for us.

“Plus there will be other events and exhibitions throughout our anniversary year.

“We are working in partnership with Viewforth High School pupils on the unique 120 Faces project for next year, which will honour famous folk and unsung heroes with a connection to Kirkcaldy.”

One of the most exciting aspects of the celebration is the discovery of around 300 glass plate and film negatives belonging to Brian Wood, now in his 80s, of Kirkcaldy solicitors Charles Wood & Son, which have never been seen before.

Cathy Davis from Kirkcaldy Photographic Society. (Pic FPA).

Cathy Davis from Kirkcaldy Photographic Society. (Pic FPA).

“It’s a hugely significant find and a real slice of social history,” Cathy said. “We are delighted to be given charge of them and we are currently developing them for use in a future stand-alone exhibition.”

And as well as the discovery of such historic images, the society has recently been reunited with the organisation’s original minute book, dating back to the very first club meeting, which was thought to have been lost.

“The minute books were discovered in a dusty old box, which had not seen the light of day for decades, whilst we were searching amongst our archives,” Cathy explained.

“It gives us a fascinating insight into the very first days of the organisation and we will be adding that to the exhibition too.”

The exhibition has been supported with £4000 of funding by Fife Council to help with the year-long calendar of events, as well as Fife Cultural Trust, which provided the gallery space and the expert technical support to make the event a reality.

“We have also had so much support from the general public and in particular from the likes of the library staff, Kirkcaldy Civic Society and Kirkcaldy Old Photographs group,” Cathy said.

The exhibition will be formally opened by the depute provost of Fife, Cllr Julie Ford, at a special event for members on Friday, before opening to the public from Saturday.

The exhibition is free and will run until March 17 next year.