New owner of historic Dysart house unveils blue plaque to renowned painter

A blue plaque has been placed on one of Dysart’s landmark buildings to celebrate one of its most renowned sons.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 8:22 am

It marks the birth place of artist Thomas Millie Dow who is considered one of the Glasgow Boys.

He lived at Orchard Croft on West Port which has just been bought by Fife schoolteacher, Matt Kirkbride.

The building was also home to Osborne Private School which was run by another talented artist and sculptor, Eunice Cameron, from 2004-2014

Matt Kirkbride, new owner or Orchard Croft in Dysart has put up a blue plaque to painter Thomas Millie Dow who was born, and lived there.

Matt wanted to celebrate the people at the heart of a building which has had a rich and very varied history.

The plaque marks not only Dow’s place of birth in 1848 but where he lived until his marriage in 1891.

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He was the son of Thomas Dow, Town Clerk, Dysart and Margaret Millie. His grandfather, Thomas Millie was a flax spinner who employed some 100 men.

New signage at Orchard Croft in Dysart.

Dow initially studied law but gave it up to pursue a career as an artist.

He studied in Paris, and In 1877 he went to Paris where he studied.

He travelled extensively and painted landscapes in America - where he painted the Hudson River - Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Morocco.

Now, one of his original paintings, The Potato Pickers, painted in 1889, is set to hang in the home where he grew up after Matt secured it at auction.

The blue plaque marks the Dysart home of artist Thomas Millie Dow

Born and brought up in Kirkcaldy, the new owner is now back home after 15 years in Edinburgh, and is looking forward to bringing new life to the house which can trace its origins back to the 1700s.

It started as a merchant’s house but rumour has it locally that it was a brothel for sailors more than 200 years ago.

Since moving in, he has found all the sasine records dating back to 1788, while a search below floorboards revealed old newspapers, vitamins, and a bottle of American Cola made by Grubbs which used to be based in Berwick Place, Dysart - now home to Furniture Plus.

“It’s a beautiful place to live,” said Matt

“I knew of the house from growing up in Kirkcaldy, and I saw it online, viewed it the next day and fell in love with it immediately.

“The biggest surprise was discovering the links to Thomas Dow as I am really interested in art and art history. Finding all those old title deeds was quite special too.”

Orchard Croft has its own gardens, workshop, woodshed and studio as the outbuildings and an orchard, as well as a number of original features including Dutch 'Delft' tiles dating from the 17-18th century from the fireplace, and smoking and bread ovens.

It also came with a hen which now has some companions in the hen hut!

“I love the garden and the history of the building,” said Matt.

“The shutters had been painted shut for a century, so we have opened them up to celebrate the craft of the workmanship.

“We also have permission to repaint the exterior of the building - but we want to also enjoy the building. We’re going room by room as we go along.”“

“Dysart is also such a special place to stay - a beautiful place. It’s a place close to my heart.”