Kirkcaldy Motor Club celebrating its centenary with special exhibition at Kirkcaldy Galleries

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and is marking the occasion with a special exhibition in Kirkcaldy Galleries that shines a light on the club over the years.

The exhibition, which features three vintage motorbikes, opened last weekend and will be running until May 8.

Around 1919 some of Fife’s pioneering motorists hit on the idea that it might be fun to get together and test both their skills and their machines, and thus was formed the early roots of what was to become Kirkcaldy and District Motor Club (KDMC).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Founded in 1922, the club is still going strong after 100 years and is still running today with the same goal in mind to encourage good fellowship, social intercourse, proficiency and road courtesy among all interested in motoring.

Norton motorbike displayed in the exhibition. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.Norton motorbike displayed in the exhibition. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.
Norton motorbike displayed in the exhibition. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.
Read More
Fife property: Stunning and handsome 4-bedroom detached Victorian villa on an el...

Jake Drummond, club secretary, said: “Starting in 1922 with a dozen or so members, the club grew into one of the most prominent multi-discipline clubs in Scotland, mainly as the members could enter any type of event using the same machine and Fifers want their money’s worth!

“Members could have a Saturday Hillclimb at Dunearn Hill, a half-day closing Wednesday Social run with the ladies and a Friday night Sprint at the nearby Donibristle Estate on land governed by the MOD. Tide times permitting, there would be an evening sand race on the Kirkcaldy’s mile long beach - a free show for the Langtonians.

“How the machines of the day stood up to such use is anyone’s guess but as most of the members were local trade, professional or business people, money didn’t seem of much concern.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Kirkcaldy & District  Motor Club members. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.Kirkcaldy & District  Motor Club members. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.
Kirkcaldy & District Motor Club members. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.

"Most of the more ‘well heeled’ members were business men, lawyers, architects and doctors. The brothers Millar, JB and W, had a motor garage in St Clair Street, E Descamps & Co Ltd had their motor and coach builders premises in the Station Hotel Garage, John D Swanston was an Architect in the town, and all were fellow KDMC founder members.

"Of course an element of competitive driving and riding crept in, especially among the younger members, and it became a matter of concern for those more accustomed to horse power, as opposed to ‘horsepower’.

“The solution was to set up a few reliability trials, or hill climbs on Dunearn Hill on what could only be loosely termed a road at the time, or cross country colonial trials ranging over Fife’s cart tracks and two ply roads ending up with a race on some suitably flat grass field.

1988 last start line at Beveridge Park.1988 last start line at Beveridge Park.
1988 last start line at Beveridge Park.

"Riders also took to competing at village fetes and staged gymkhanas which included riding along narrow planks, having sack races with runners and riders doing relays and of course, a grass track race or two. Soon the need was for more speed, and the wide open spaces of Kirkcaldy Sands and Pettycur Bay beckoned.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jake said that as the club became more established, riders of particular talent started to show.

"These events produced riders of repute who competed on St Andrews West Sands at SACU organised Scottish Speed Championships in the late twenties and into the 1930’s,” he said.

Club secretary, Jake Drummond. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.Club secretary, Jake Drummond. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.
Club secretary, Jake Drummond. Pic: Fife Photo Agency.

"Hawick’s Jimmie Guthrie was a regular at the Kirkcaldy club’s own events and close friend to many of our own ‘cracks’, Alf Peatman Snr, JK Swanston, Jackie Blyth and Tommy McEwan.

“Swanston, Blyth and McEwan became known as ‘the Kirkcaldy team’, and were held in high regard around the country’s events, where grass track racing was part of the show at town fetes and galas, and sand racing became popular at many coastal towns on the east coast.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Pre-World War Two there was no road racing in Scotland and the sand races were the speed events of the day.

By 1948 the Kirkcaldy Grand Prix was described as “The Only Motor Cycle Road Race in Scotland” and drew top Scots and English riders to the town’s picturesque and normally peaceful Beveridge Park, with Graham Walker – father of legendary motorsport journalist and Formula One commentator Murray Walker - as commentator for the BBC Home Service. The Scottish Road Races for Motorcycles, as they were known, continued at Beveridge Park until 1988.

The club continued to be seen at Knockhill, where, from 1975 to 2010, Kirkcaldy’s name was on the programme as organisers of the Scottish Championship events, the early BSB rounds and the Euro Cup sidecars. A return to sand racing after a parting of the ways with Knockhill was the club’s swansong in race organisation, a fitting return to its roots.

The club has continued with its own ‘Kirkcaldy Motorcycle Show’, although an alternative venue is being sought for this year with Fife Ice Arena unavailable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
JK Swanston on the Kirkcaldy sands in 1930.JK Swanston on the Kirkcaldy sands in 1930.
JK Swanston on the Kirkcaldy sands in 1930.

However, you can now find a display of machines and lots of information on the club’s unique history in Kirkcaldy Galleries – a definite must for any motor sport lover and it’s all free.

Lesley Botten, OnFife’s interpretation team leader, said: "Motorbikes in the art gallery? Why not? As the bikes arrived, even I quickly picked my favourite: the classic 1929 Norton!”

The other bikes on show are a Yamaha TZ750 and a Honda Britain CBR600. There is also a Mini Moto sidecar outfit.

Lesley continued: “It's really important to mark this milestone in Kirkcaldy Motor Club's history. The three magnificent bikes are displayed in one room upstairs at Kirkcaldy Galleries along with photos and information about the club's story.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This is a short exhibition and I really hope that people will venture along to see something different, as well as taking a look at the paintings and crafts in the other galleries while they’re here."

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.