Lundin Links Hotel: Landmark with history spanning centuries destroyed by fire

The Lundin Links Hotel stood at the heart of the village for centuries - an unmissable landmark for every single visitor as the road through the town took you straight past its front door.
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Its history underlined its importance locally.

The first innkeeper, Mrs Woods, was recorded in the register of Sasines in 1794.

In 1874, an advert in the Fife Free Press advertisement had Bells Inn - as it was then known after the most recent innkeeper - was put up for sale.

Lundin Links Hotel, boarded up in December 2015Lundin Links Hotel, boarded up in December 2015
Lundin Links Hotel, boarded up in December 2015
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The advert spoke of “a lucrative business” and the sale encompassed a house, coach house stable and large garden.

Four years later it was back on the market with an upset price of £600.

As innkeepers moved in and out, the hotel also caught the eye of the authorities - for the wrong reasons.

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Lundin Links Hotel fire: Major probe begins as blaze guts abandoned Fife hotel
The Lundin Links Hotel went on fire this week (Pic: Fife Jammer)The Lundin Links Hotel went on fire this week (Pic: Fife Jammer)
The Lundin Links Hotel went on fire this week (Pic: Fife Jammer)

In 1882, the East of Fife Record, showed Mr David Kirkcaldy, InnKeeper, was charged at Cupar for selling short measures.

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Seven years later he was up in front of the Licensing Board for selling drink on a Sunday and was handed “a stiff warning.”

Human bones were unearthed behind the hotel’s garden wall in 1890. They were rumoured to be the remains of a traveller who went missing several years ago whilst staying in the Old Toll Cottage, Lundin Mill - now the location of the town’s Post Office.

The hotel changed hands again and, in 1900, had an “auspicious opening” with the St Andrews Citizen stating: “There are few places in Scotland that within recent years have come more rapidly to the front as summer resorts than Lundin Links on the Northern Shore of the Forth, why this should be so is not difficult to explain.

“In the first place nature has been more lavish with its amenities in the charming bents and picturesque scenery conferred upon Lundin Links.

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“Secondly the Lord of the Manor Sir John Gilmour of Lundin and Montrave has been sufficiently enlightened to popularise the district by laying out a magnificent carriage drive and securing at untold cost a splendid railway service at Lundin Links Station.”

The newspaper reported that “a fashionable gathering met by invitation to take a private view of the building” giving hearty cheers at the conclusion of speeches.

The hotel was renovated in 1905, and then a fire broke out in 1920.

It started in the kitchen and quickly spread to the roof, causing some £700 of damage.

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A new bar opened in 1935, and, during the war, the building was used to house Polish soldiers, many of whom settled in the area. There were murals on one of the staircases under the wallpaper that were drawn during their incarceration.

Famous guests included ten-year old John Hammond Davies , the star of the film ‘Oliver Twist”, and the The Sultan of Brunei, his Highness Omar Ali Saifudden, and Maurice Chevalier who lunched there in 1953.

A number of changes were made over the most recent decades , and the hotel remained a hugely popular place for weddings, functions as well as visitors.

Its prominent position on the main road made it a landmark building.

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It’s sad decline since its door closed for the last time in 2014 has been difficult to watch for locals.

The building was allowed to deteriorate over the years, raising strong concerns over its future.

It had already experienced two fires before this week’s devastating blaze.

Peter Aitken, chairman of Largo Area Community Council, which covers Lower Largo, Lundin Links, New Gilston and Woodside, Upper Largo, summed it up: “It’s devastating for the community, but we’ve been expecting this to happen for years.

“We’ve been warning this would happen.

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“We’ve had two minor fires before. The alert was raised in time to save the building on both occasions.

“But we knew that one day the alert wouldn’t be raised in time, and that’s what happened last night. It’s completely destroyed.”

It may be months before the community finds out what will happen next.

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