News and Events

February 2010 - 2009 Newsletter

The year started on a sad note with the death of long serving committee member, Jim McLellan. Jim was an enthusiastic and gifted photographer and a devoted Dysartonian. He will be missed.

May saw a cold and windy day for the annual outdoor service at old St. Serf’s Church. Tilly did her usual great job as did Dysart Brass Band and there was a larger than usual turnout.

An exhibition planned for June had to be cancelled due to work starting on the renovation of the Tolbooth and Town Hall. The main work on the Tolbooth involved removal of the old cement harl and re-coating with lime render which allows the stone structure to breathe. As with all old buildings, the condition of the underlying structure was found to be in a worse state than anticipated and much skilled work was done by the stone masons to put this right. Much of their work is now covered up and will probably never be seen again but it was a joy to see the quality of the repairs carried out before the render was applied. Internal work consisted of treating all wood to prevent rot, or replacement if needed. The loose whitewash finish on the walls of the spiral stair was removed and broken stone lintels on the cell doors were replaced. One controversial part of the work is the colour of the lime wash which has been applied. We have been used to seeing the Tolbooth painted white but it is now a shade of ochre yellow. Perhaps it will take some time to get used to it but we will have to wait till the scaffold comes down to get the full effect. Work was originally scheduled to finish in late November 2009 but wet weather held things up. We look forward to the official unveiling some time in the spring.

The annual Dysart Trust Heritage Award entries from the pupils of Dysart Primary School were, as usual, varied and imaginative giving the judging panel a difficult task. Prizes were awarded at the closing of the school for the summer holiday.

July saw the launch of the Trust’s latest publication, Dysart in Days Gone By. An unashamed feast of nostalgia aimed at those who remember Dysart as it was before the changes of the 1960s, and hopefully, an eye-opener for those new to the place. Using photographs from the Trust’s extensive archives, it shows a town that was very different from today. It has been sent to exiled Dysartonians all over the world and caused much reminiscing locally.

Also in July, building of the new housing in High Street and Fitzroy Square was started. This will transform this area which was blighted by the horrible flats which were so out of place. Their demolition has allowed for homes more in keeping with their environment. Work here is projected to be finished in late 2010. It is hoped to demolish some of the flats in McDouall Stuart Place and Howard Place, and landscape the ground in readiness for the next phase of housing building.

The beginning of September brought the welcome news that over £6 million had been secured for the refurbishment of Dysart Harbour. This had been long awaited and at once time the scheme was in jeopardy of collapsing through lack of funds. The main part of the project will be rebuilding the east pier back to its original form as it was when it was destroyed by heavy seas in 1969. Repairs to the centre pier and slipway are also scheduled. These long awaited improvements will ensure that the harbour will be there for all to enjoy for many years to come.

Doors Open Day in mid-September again saw St Serf’s attracting large number of visitors. Because of the ongoing work on the Town Hall, this venue was unable to be open as usual which meant that those on duty on the day were not so stretched. All credit to those stout hearts on duty at the top of the tower on a cold and windy day, especially the one wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.

The Dysart Trust continues to be deeply involved with all the Regeneration projects going on at the moment. 2010 promises to be a busy year with the re-opening of the Town Hall when work finishes there. A total refurbishment of the exhibition is planned and funding is in place for new display cases and boards. It hoped to have the Town Hall open on a regular basis over the summer months as well as a special display for Celebrating Fife 2010.

The committee of the Trust would take this opportunity to wish our supporters all the best for the coming year, and thank those who assisted us in our efforts.


June 2009

The summer exhibition by the Dysart Trust, due to be held on Sunday 21 June, has had to be cancelled. Major renovations under way in the Tolbooth means that access to the Town Hall is now not possible.


May 2009

The Dysart Trust has produced a new book, Dysart in Days Gone By, written by Jim Swan and Carol McNeill. The book contains more than 200 images of old Dysart, the majority of which have never been published before, all with full explanatory text. Chapters include Dysart’s Lost Streets, High Street, the Harbour, the Shore, Pan Ha’, Shops and Businesses, and a miscellaneous section. It’s a real trip down memory lane for those who remember Relief Street and Nether Street; Wilkie’s bakery, Miss Nekola’s pharmacy and the Carlos restaurant; the Co-op with all its many departments; and the old houses at Pan Ha’ before their renovation. There are also striking pictures of tall-masted ships from Denmark and Norway tied up at the harbour; the storm in 1969 which battered the east pier; miners at the Lady Blanche pit; a rare picture of the Tolbooth with air-raid precautions during World War 2; the short-lived lemonade factory at Gardenside; and the fire which gutted Meikle’s factory. Dysart in Days Gone By costs £10 and is available now from Dysart Post Office, Harbourmaster's House, and other local outlets. Also available by mail order, £11.50 including p and p for UK orders, £15 for Australia or USA. Sterling cheques only please made out to The Dysart Trust and sent to PO Box 26839, Kirkcaldy KY2 9AQ.


Older News

Although the Trust is committed to finding out as much as possible about Dysart in days gone by, we are also very much involved with present day matters and keep a watchful eye on any developments which affect us now and in the future.

Several years ago, we initiated the Dysart Trust Heritage Award for P7 pupils at Dysart Primary to encourage them to find out more about the history of their village. There are two categories, visual and written, and each year the youngsters produce some excellent and imaginative work with the support and encouragement of their teachers. The committee has a difficult job to decide on the winners, who are presented with cash prizes and certificates, and the names of the first prize winners are engraved on the Heritage Shield each year.

Since the Regeneration Programme started up more than five years ago, committee members have been working hard behind the scenes with Fife Council and other bodies to make sure our points of view are contributed and hopefully acted upon.

The most exciting project so far has been the restoration of the Harbourmaster’s House. The top floor of the building has been converted into the headquarters and offices of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (who operate the Coastal Path), while the ground floor houses a much-needed café and toilets. The lower ground floor is an interpretation centre which tells the story of Dysart harbour and its harbourmasters and shows some of the highlights of the Coastal Path. As well as welcoming visitors and local people to the building, the interpretation centre encourages people to get out and about to find out more about Dysart and to walk at least part of the Coastal Path.

We helped to produce the tourist leaflet which is available free from Tourist Information outlets, showing the landmark buildings in Dysart and other points of historical interest.

We have also been heavily involved in a recently commissioned survey of our historic buildings - the Tolbooth, Town Hall, St Serf’s and the John McDouall Stuart birthplace. The Trust leases the Town Hall from the Council and has acted as stewards and caretakers for the buildings (with the exception of the McDouall Stuart museum) for more than 40 years. While the Trust would like to see these buildings being made more accessible to the public than our limited resources and manpower allow at the moment, some of the recommendations made by the consultants were completely opposed by the Trust. One suggestion, that the Town Hall building should be sold to a consortium of artists from Dundee, was quite unacceptable and has since been withdrawn leaving the Trust’s headquarters and exhibition space unaltered.

Committee members also attend meetings of Fife Council Management Group, which takes into account all aspects of regeneration planning, including housing, planning applications, plans for improvements to the amenities in Ravenscraig Park, community artworks, harbour improvements, and historic buildings. Many of these plans are still ongoing and the Trust continues to follow the progress to make sure that any changes are going to be of real and lasting benefit to the community.