Sunday, November 19, 2006
The first Tay Bridge collapsed into the sea in 1879 only 18 months after it had opened, drowning 72 people travelling by train to Dundee. Shock reverberated through Britain, and the public demanded answers. The bridge had been hailed as a triumph of construction, and its fall shook society's confidence in the excellence of Victorian engineering. This epic tale of engineering follows the rise and fall of the career of engineer Thomas Bouch, ostracised from the engineering community when his bridge crashed into the Tay estuary. Over four decades, a fierce and dirty railway war drove forward the construction of the two largest railway bridges in the world, symbols of a modernising Scotland. Charles McKean offers new conclusions about why the first Tay Bridge collapsed and tells how the Forth and Tay bridges eventually became reality. He follows the railway battle for Scotland from 1845 - 95 and the people it involved: from the Victorian entrepreneurs, poets, journalists, lawyers, town councils; to the engineers, briggers, excavators and rivet boys; to the pioneering and inventive contractor William Arrol - who constructed the bridges that stand today. Meticulously researched and vividly told, "Battle for the North" explores the complicated reality underlying the Victorian pursuit of progress. .Battle for the North: The Tay and Forth Bridges and the 19th Century Railway Wars
Saturday, November 18, 2006
"The Kingdom of Fife", as it is still proudly known, lies at the heart of Scotland. From earliest times it had been the centre of power and is of historical significance. This volume covers the history of the area from Cardinal Beaton's murder to local mining and Victorian monuments. The Fife Book.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Cupar was created a royal burgh in 1328, though its name is Pictish, suggesting that there had been an important settlement there since the 7th or 8th century if not earlier. Until the 16th century it was among the richest royal burghs in Scotland, but declined in the 17th century, its trade handicapped by its distance from the sea. It flourished once again as a centre of the linen industry in the 18th century. As the county town of Fife, and a town which serviced travellers on their way from Edinburgh to Dundee and Aberdeen, Cupar became a 'leisure town', attracting well-off retired people and country gentry to its balls, horse races, theatre and library, as well as the services offered by banks, lawyers and doctors (and brothels). But by the mid 19th century the railway carried travellers through without stopping, industrial development shifted to west Fife where coal was plentiful, and St Andrews took over as the cultural centre of east Fife. Because the town did not develop major industries, it retains its medieval town plan and many fine buildings from its Georgian heyday. Cupar: A History.
Along the coast of Fife, in villages like Culross and Pittenweem, historical markers and pamphlets now include the fact that some women were executed as witches within these burghs. Still the reality of what happened the night that Janet Cornfoot was lynched in the harbour is hard to grasp as one sits in the harbour of Pittenweem watching the fishing boats unload their catch and the pleasure boats rising with the tide. How could people do this to an old woman? Why was no-one ever brought to justice? And why would anyone defend such a lynching? The task of the historian is to try to make events in the past come alive and seem less strange. This is particularly true in the case of the historian dealing with the witch-hunt. The details are fascinating. Some of the anecdotes are strange. The modern reader finds it hard to imagine illness being blamed on the malevolence of a beggar woman denied charity. It is difficult to understand the economic failure of a sea voyage being attributed to the village hag, not bad weather. Witch-hunting was related to ideas, values, attitudes and political events. It was a complicated process, involving religious and civil authorities, village tensions and the fears of the elite. The witch-hunt in Scotland also took place at a time when one of the main agendas was the creation of a righteous or godly society. As a result, religious authorities had control over aspects of the lives of the people which seem every bit as strange to us today as might any beliefs about magic or witchcraft. That the witch-hunt in Scotland, and specifically in Fife, should have happened at this time was not accidental. This book tells the story of what occurred over a period of a century and a half, and offers some explanation as to why it occurred. The Witches of Fife: Witch-hunting in a Scottish Shire, 1560-1710.
Friday, November 10, 2006
By the beginning of 1879, the Tay Railway Bridge swept in a smooth arc across the water from North Fife to Dundee, thrilling dignitaries at the very sight of it. Queen Victoria rode over it on her way south from Balmoral. Its practical purpose was largely to bring Dundee closer to the textile markets, and vice versa, but its arches and rails spoke more of the beauty of human accomplishment. Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay: Reinvestigating the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879.
During the early part of the 20th century, fishing still formed one of the main industries in the famous corner of Fife. Belle Patrick spent her first 30 years in Anstruther, and in the mid-1960s wrote this memoir to put on record the fishing way of life, believing it to be so independent. Recollections of East Fife Fisher-folk.
From Orkney and Shetland to the north east coast, and from Fife to Berwick, fishing boats have been an important part of the maritime heritage of Scotland. The original designs of fishing vessels were based on Viking ships, but by the early twentieth century, scaffies, fifies and zulus were being replaced by more modern craft, all of which are included in this charming collection of fishing boats of Scotland. The future of the fishing industry in Scotland cannot currently be termed as promising; successive EEC rulings gave resulted in a large diminution of fleet, and this, combined with a regime of ever-changing restrictions and rules, have made it impossible to work with current legislation and still be economically viable. However, the author hopes that there will be those who, either due to faith and enterprise or simply for lack of other opportunity, will continue to invest and continue as generations of their forefathers have done before. This book illustrates the vessels that played a past in the fishing industry in Scotland, with 200 old photographs accompanied by informative captions. Fishing Boats of Scotland.
This guide covers a varied landscape area that is accessible to the highly populated Central Lowlands of Scotland, including the great cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Human endeavour, coupled with a proud colourful heritage, is evident everywhere, in the pretty and historic coastal towns such as St Andrews, in the rolling Lomond Hills and scenic Loch Leven, and, moving further north towards the higher ground, in the mountainous areas around Pitlochry, where the autumn colours have to be seen to be believed. Visits to the area are addictive, causing many to return again and again to the ancient "kingdoms" of Fife and Perth, legendary birthplace of the heartland of Scotland, for further exploration and pleasure. Fife and Perthshire: Including Kinross (Pevensey Guide).
If the Kingdom of Fife only offered the photographer picturesque old fishing villages like Elie, St Monance, Pitenweem, Anstruther and Crail, it would be sheer paradise - but there's so much more to it than that. There's the historic town of Dunfermline with its magnificent Abbey - the site of Robert the Bruce's burial. Formerly Scotland's capital and the place where the king in Sir Patrick Spens's poem famously drank the 'bluid-red wine', Dunfermline is the birthplace of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and has one of Britain's most beautiful public parks - Pittencrief Park. Situated a few miles south-west of Dunfermline is Culross. Here, amongst the narrow cobbled streets and the houses with their crow-stepped roofs and distinctive pan-tiles, you'll find yourself transported back to the sixteenth century. To the east is Fife's most industrial town, Kirkcaldy, and further round the coast is St Andrews, the home of golf. Scotland's oldest university, currently the place of study for a certain William Windsor, was founded here in 1413. And the beaches at St Andrews and Burntisland are justly recognised as two of Scotland's top beaches. So, whether you live here or are just passing through, The Wee Book of Fife is the perfect memento of a unique area. The Wee Book of Fife.
Fife's most famous buildings include Dunfermline Abbey, with its sturdy Norman nave; St Andrews cathedral, the focus of the old University town on the North Sea coast; the foursquare post-Reformation kirk at Burntisland; the palace of Falkland, where James V became Britain's first patron of Renaissance architecture on the grand scale; and the little royal burghs along the coastal fringe, each with its harbour and its strings of vernacular houses presided over by the kirk and tollbooth. Cupar, at the centre of Fife's long peninsula, is the seat of local government and one of the most charming and prosperous of Scottish towns. Less well known are Fife's tower houses like Scotstarvit, the old seaboard castles of St Andrews and Ravenscraig, the picturesque Balgonie Castle and the thoroughly domesticated Kellie Castle. Of Fife's churches one of the most beautiful is Dairsie; and three centuries of inventive design in burial monuments come to an unexpected climax in a work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the MacDuff cemetery, East Wemyss. Fife (Pevsner Buildings of Scotland).
A wonderful video guide to Scotland, including North East Fife, taking in the sights of the Drum Castle, Crathes Castle, Haddo House, Hill Of Tarvit, Kellie Castle and Culross. Presented by Diana Rigg. Held In Trust - A Video Guide To Scotland - North East / Fife / Central .
One of Scotland's most interesting areas and its people. It chronicles the many changes which have taken place over the last 100 years and brings to life again the shops, pubs, factories, industries, streets and entire communities which have changed or have been irretrievably lost. The major changes to manufacturing, the maritime trade, coal mining and other industries and their steady replacement by light industry and the retail and services sectors have had a profound impact on the lives of people and their communities. The work also puts these new developments in an historical context spanning 8000 years. It combines archive photographs, a valuable early postcard collection and specially-commissioned new images to chart the growth, development and change of East Fife and its largest town. Kirkaldy and East Fife: The Twentieth Century (Britain in Old Photographs).
A guide to the Fife coast which takes the reader or walker from the Forth Bridge along the castles coast and then into the East Neuk. The book is in sections allowing a walk from end to end or a days sampling of a particular spot. The Fife Coast: From the Forth Bridges to Leuchars by the Castles Coast and the East Neuk.
This map is part of the Ordnance Survey's Explorer series designed to replace the old Pathfinder map series. At 1:25,000 scale this detailed map shows a host of North Fife attractions including gardens which are open to the public, nature reserves and country parks as well as all official footpaths, bridleways, roads and lanes. Other facilities covered include: camping and caravan sites, picnic areas and viewpoints, selected places of interest, rights of way information for North Fife, and selected tourist information. The main advantages of this map are the geographical design of the sheetlines to capture the best local North Fife coverage, and the coverage of a larger area for value for money. The series is aimed mainly at the experienced map user but can be used by tourists and locals alike. St.Andrews and East Fife: Cupar, Anstruther and Crail (Explorer).
This work is an account of the people of Fife and their village and Hamlet communities from medieval times to the present day. Fife has seen many major events in Scottish history, and this work covers the places, parishes and people; their leaders, labour and leisure and the part all strata of village society played in the vibrant county with the pretentions of a kingdom. From Kingbarns to Saline and from Wormit to Dysart, this work reveals the myriads of villages and how they developed, showing how they are as alive today as they ever were, still contributing to the ongoing story of Fife. It covers all of Fife's villages and hamlets and is arranged in a reader-friendly A-Z format, allowing each settlement to be located and enjoyed separately or as part of a wider specific area. Villages of Fife.