The day the Queen Mother made a visit to Dysart

The Queen Mother arrives in Dysart in 1969.The Queen Mother arrives in Dysart in 1969.
The Queen Mother arrives in Dysart in 1969.
It was one of the most memorable days in the long and colourful history of centuries old Dysart.

Just over 50 years ago in October 1969, the town was visited by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who, as Patron Saint of National Trust for Scotland, had come to Dysart to see at first hand the £100,000 restoration scheme at which had been undertaken by the trust.

It involved the restoration of six derelict fishermen’s houses dating back to the 16th century, and the erection of five new houses which had been specially designed to fill a gap site.

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A loud cheer went up from the large crowd, including 200 pupils of Sinclairtown and Dysart Primary Schools, many of them waving flags, as the Queen Mother’s chocolate-coloured Rolls Royce arrived at the west end of the site at the same time as her personal standard was unfurled on the fifteenth century St. Serf’s Tower.

A renewed cheer greeted Her Majesty as she stepped from the car and was formally received by the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, John McWilliam, and following further presentations, she walked to the south-west end of the Pilot’s House, one of the restored properties, and unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion.

She said: “It gives me great pleasure to unveil this plaque which marks the restoration of these beautiful little houses.”

The Queen Mother then spent some time touring the Covenant House where she met 64-year-old Mr James Mitchell and his wife Ivy, along with their son Robert (22).

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Although she was scheduled only to visit the lounge and dining room, Her Majesty asked to be shown over the rest of the house, and visited the kitchen and the three first-floor bedrooms.

After leaving the Mitchell household, the Queen Mother on stopped to chat to several spectators before going on to visit houses undergoing re-construction where she was introduced to Alexander Fraser, whose firm, located in Millie Street, Kirkcaldy, was the main contractor.

Afterwards Mr Fraser said that the Queen Mother had talked to various tradesmen about their particular crafts and she seemed to have considerable knowledge of the operation.

She then met Albert Kidd, secretary of Dysart Trust, who referred to the history of the buildings.

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After signing the Dysart Trust Visitors’ Book, the Queen Mother spoke to two young local girls who were dressed in Dutch costume – 12-year-old Johanna Clarke, Almond Place, Kirkcaldy, and 10-year-old Nancy McLean, Howard Place, Dysart.

The visit ended with the presentation to Her Majesty of a reproduction of a Sam Bough painting depicting Dysart Harbour, made by Councillor Miss Janet Meikle, a Dysart ward representative on Kirkcaldy Town Council.

Miss Meikle said afterwards: “ The Queen Mother picked out various landmarks on the painting and made particular reference to Dysart Tower.

“She also asked about the business – what kind of carpets we made and how the business was doing.

“I said it was quite good although sometimes a bit difficult.”

Her Majesty then entered the Royal car and drove off amid cheering crowds.