Travels in Fife

crail sand train

The East Neuk Festival is on at the moment. It’s mainly concerts but every day there are also screenings of a film called The Holiday Line. The film is a combination of archive footage and more recently filmed anecdotes about the steam trains that used to run along the east coast of Fife. They brought hundreds of visitors to the East Neuk each year – including myself. Of course, it closed in 1965 so I only have dim memories of arriving by train at Pittenweem station. Mum once told me that as a kid my uncle Alex used to wait at the station for the arrival of the trains and earn money carrying holidaymakers’ luggage to their houses in an old fishbox on wheels! The kids would also look for coal on the line …

Not only did the trains bring visitors to the area but they also served the local industries taking milk, cattle, fish, etc, away to other parts of the UK. According to one chap, if you posted a letter in, say, Crail, it would arrive and be delivered in Edinburgh the same day. Much more efficient than the current postal service. Anyway, the lines have all been taken up, station houses sold off and all that remains as you drive around are a few bridges (or parts thereof).

Outside the Golf Hotel on Crail High Street they were building a huge sandcastle of the steam train. They started yesterday and it would be finished tomorrow.
It needed lots of watering.

There’s me looking out of the window of the train!

On the way home I found this eagle at the gates of Largo House caravan park.
Largo House is where the Poles trained and on the entrance gates there were statues of white eagles (the emblem of Poland). The house is now in ruins and this is a new entrance but it’s good to know the Poles are still remembered.

polish eagle largo house

I found this image taken in 1997 of the original gates (

And as I continued along the road from Largo I came up behind this car. I thought for a moment I must have driven through a time warp back to the 1940s or maybe wandered into an episode of Foyle’s War. But I see lots of vintage cars around Fife. It reminded me of Helen’s story. Helen was a friend of my mother’s who’d come with me to see the film. Her brother apparently had the first new car in Pittenweem after the war in 1946. “What was it?” I asked. “Black”, she said. How I laughed. If she’d told me the make it would have meant nothing to me anyway!

~ by marysia on 3 July 2010.

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