Fife Ice Rink: 85 years of history, hockey and character
and live on Freeview channel 276
The project spotlights the early history of the rink, recognising its resilience, the dedication of the people who support it and the vision of those who conceived and established it.
Described by architectural historians as merely “a large shed with art-deco touches”, the rink was state of the art on opening, and remains proudly at the ‘top of the toun’, defying all adversity.
It has survived economic crises, eddying leisure trends, the roller-coaster of pro and semi-pro hockey, fire damage, the Covid pandemic and a World War that had loomed over the arena’s construction and erupted just a year after it opened.
Despite having fewer seats today, the Gallatown rink has bonus collective lung capacity. It has character. It has literally the longest history and it has a distinct atmosphere that engages like no other. On good nights and in good seasons, the ‘large shed’ still rocks.
The oldest surviving club in top-flight British ice hockey inspires and feeds off this energy. Kirkcaldy embraced Fife Flyers from the first face-off and each fresh season creates hope that this will be a great one.
Successful teams have pulled in crowds - the 10th anniversary year Scottish League winners, the 1976/77 team that dominated British hockey; the 1985 Wembley-winners; the nationally Czech experiment; the millennium-year Grand Slammers.
Great players and characters pulled on the first Flyers’ jerseys, led by captain and mentor Les Lovell and Olympic gold-medallist Jimmy Chapell, and Opening Night mascot and future Olympian Bert Smith.
Countless others followed through the years, home-bred and imports, standouts and stalwarts, all doing their bit.
Kirkcaldy in 1938 was part of a very different world - the 50 Objects project has isolated a moment in time when Kirkcaldy suddenly had an ice rink (from land purchase to opening was less than 12 months) and became a hockey town. It was the original ‘new era’.
Many of the rink’s founders, funders and pioneers were enthusiasts not of hockey but of skating or curling, which were central to their social and recreational lives. The curlers found a permanent home for their ‘hoose’.
Skaters gained a 145-foot roof over their heads. And from its inception Kirkcaldy Ice Rink set out to diversify, playing host to myriad cultural and sporting activities.
Conceived and built by local people with vision, Fife Ice Arena, or simply ‘the rink’, is also for many some kind of home. Generations of players, performers, coaches and fans have found focus, friendship, relationships, something close to family.
It’s also a portal to the world – globe-trotting performers, fans from other towns and countries, broadcasters, advertisers can find Kirkcaldy on a map because of its ice pad.
Kirkcaldyin50objects.com places the rink’s origins in social and sporting context and acknowledges the people who built it for future generations and trusted that they would come.
The full story can be found at www.kirkcaldyin50objects.com