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Cardenden Public School








Auchterderran Parish Church































Auchterderran Craig Cottage

















Mary Queen of Scots




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History of Cardenden

The name, Cardenden, was chosen by the Edinburgh and Northern Railway for its station on the Thornton - Dunfermline line in 1848. There was no village of that name previously although there was a number of mining hamlets beginning to grow around the coal-fields in the Cluny and Coalden,at Dundonald and at Denend. Coal had been mined in the parish for generations. Once the coal could be transported by rail it was obvious to the coal-masters that more coal should be wrought. In the second half of the l9th century more families came into the district seeking work in the pits and those ex-farm workers and weavers and Irish navvies who had worked on the railways as well as miners from the pits no longer productive settled in the existing communities. Except for the Capeldrae Cannel Coal Co. and the Westfield Shale Oil Co. there was no coal being worked in the north of the parish except in the Lochgelly coalfield which does not concern us in our study of the east of the parish of Auchterderran. Lochgelly was the only village in the parish and in 1868 it was granted a parish church "quoad sacra" of its own as its population had increased at least threefold since 1840.

"Where is Auchterderran?"a young man asked in 1885 when he learned that he was a candidate for the post of assistant minister there. The incumbent, Rev. McGregor Grant,had been absent from the parish since 1879,a patient in an Edinburgh hospital. Joculary, his revered old professor replied that Auchterderran lay, undulating,at the feet of Loch Leven and ever keeping a watchful eye on the carls of Dysart and Kirkcaldy. It's doubtful if the carls of Kirkcaldy ever gave Auchterderran a backward glance....regarding the area to the north as of little importance to them....the hinterland!....the backwoods! as one early history records. Strangely,that attitude is still apparent today but it is not entirely Kirkcaldy's fault if it does not know its neighbour, for Auchterderran was part of West Fife and, until Kirkcaldy District Council took responsibility for the village...and not all of it. . . our ties were with Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath. It was Lochgelly Co-op. Society and the D. C. I. (Dick's Co-op Institution)from Cowdenbeath which set up branches in Cardenden. 100 years ago, our mail came from Lochgelly (which is still the postal address of the village) and Dunfermline was head office for the local post office when it was established in the village.

In the early 1900's. Secondary education meant travelling to Cowdenbeath to Beath Secondary School. The Labour Exchange was in Cowdenbeath although in times of high unemployment a branch was opened in Lochgelly for there was no money for bus fares and the men walked. Gas came from Lochgelly till we had our own gas works. Auchterderran parish did belong to Kirkcaldy Presbytery.But Kirkcaldy was a great place for a day out....the shops, the park and afternoon tea. You have to travel no further than the Kirkcaldy West roundabout a little beyond Dean Park to find yourself in Auchterderran .

Before the East Fife Regional Road was built do you remember Cairnielee, the "china houses" by the little stone bridge as the old road turned and climbed towards Chapel Home Farm cottages? That was the parish boundary. Today, from the residential area of Dean Park to the first houses of Cardenden is less than two miles. Cluny hamlet is only a mile away. The bridge over the River Ore, near the railway line, is the parish boundary with Kinglassie. Most residents of Kirkcaldy travel on the East Fife Regional Road on the way to Edinburgh or northwards through Cluny to the western precincts of Glenrothes but few turn off to travel through the village of Cardenden unless they are visiting there.

But let us rejoin that young man on his way to his preaching trial in Auchterderran Kirk. He had spent the night in the Minto Hotel,Lochgelly and now he set out on the two and a half mile journey,downhill most of the way, to Auchterderran. The first part of the journey had not raised his spirits as he travelled through the avenue of trees, still hoary with frost, and past Lochgelly cemetery)which was also the burial ground at that time for Auchterderran hamlets, for the kirkyard had been closed in 1859. The area around the cemetery was locally known as Shak-im-dud and alludes to the time when the gipsies frequented Lochgelly moor there. Great was his surprise when he left the trees to see a green valley, dotted with farms and well-wooded, opening out before him. He stopped to catch his first glimpse of the little white kirk of Auchterderran.....and little did he know then that there lay the place where he would spend the rest of his life. . . as assistant minister from 1885-1889 when the incumbent died and he was inducted to the charge, almost unanimously, by 730 congregational votes. Active in every sphere of parish life until the last when on the morning of the Sunday School picnic in 1933 he collapsed and died in the manse as he was preparing to go with the children. Permission was given for his interment in the kirkyard close to the west side of the church which he had served for 48 years.

Standing on the Eliza Brae that Sunday morning in March 1885 it was a rural scene he viewed. . . very different from my memories of it. At the foot of the brae the Minto colliery (1896) had not yet been sunk and no colliery houses flanked the roadway. In one of these houses in the 1930's was to live James Black, now Sir James Nobel prizewinner and discoverer of Tagamet and Beta Blockers. Just beyond was the farm of Brig hills which took its name from the Bow Bridge of Ore, frequently named in Kirk Session records as requiring repair to accommodate a royal passage to Falkland. The heritors would be stented to pay for repairs there and also at West Bowhill Bridge in 1617.When James vi returned to call a parliament in Edinburgh, the kirk was responsible for collecting the cash for repair to both bridges at a cost of over £30 for deals and irons. Alas! not all the heritors had paid up and the minutes record a deficit of £7. The farmer at Brig hills early on was the Grandfather of Gordon Brown, M. P. and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The road started to rise again and he passed the farm road to Pitcairn, once the estate of the Kinninmonth family whose lands passed, by the marriage of a daughter, Agnes Murray Kinninmonth, to the Minto family.
Beyond the farm, by Torres Loan lay the Harelaw, a Bronze Age tumulus, which the young minister along with other amateur archaeologists was to explore in a few years. (Cist burials were also found at Powguild Farm by the Gelly loch. ) On the right side of the road, just coming into view was a house called Annfield and it is associated with a young doctor who came to the parish in 1894 and whose name is remembered not only in Cardenden but throughout Scotland as the author of "The Lum Hat Wantin' a Crown" and "The Pawky Duke" and many other poetic and literary pieces. He was David Rorie who for a time was the colliery doctor as well as general practitioner. His close contact with the miners and their families was to provide an ample source of material for his writing....much of which was published in the local journals of the time, the Fifeshire Advertiser and the People's Friend. There is no reference to him in the Parish History written by the Rev. Archibald McNeil Houston in 1924 although Dr. Rorie practised in the parish for about ten years. A story there perhaps!

The Berry Hills lay on the left, now part of Auchterderran Golf Course (founded in 1904) and the Jamphlars. There is not much romantic about Cardenden but that word "Jamphlars" conjured up pictures of Mary, queen of Scots riding by admiring the flowers. "Champs Fleurs!" she said ..and that is the story we were told at school. In the old records there was a farm or small estate of Jamphire or Jamfleer there. In 1885 there was a smiddy a few cottages, one of which housed a private school. . . . Colinton School which was started by Mrs. Royds of Balgreggie around 1856 and which was still functioning when the 1872 Education Act came into force. Twenty six pupils of Colinton, aged 5-11, were enrolled at Auchterderran Public School in that year, including eight girls. One of these girls became a pupil teacher there, another was well known and well respected as the village midwife and one of the boys was a Science graduate who died young. Adjoining the site where Bowhill Colliery was to be developed in ten years' time was a small white washed farm. The manse and the kirk were in sight. We'll leave the minister to compose himself before he enters the kirk. He tells us that there was no vestry where he could prepare himself.

Before us lies Balgreggie Road,once the site of the Bowbutts and Kirkshotts farm where King Alexander iii kept his boarhounds for hunting in Carden forest (The earliest reference to Carden forest was in a charter of William the Lion,dated around 1170, which also mentioned Tough and Bogie.) Balgreggie Mansion house was at one time the dower house of the Aytouns of Inchdairnie. Half of the house built in 1856 still remains as part of the present farm house. The date on the lintel above the stable block is 1737 but there has been a house on the site of the farm for as long as there has been a kirk in Auchterderran and we know that the kirk was there in 1059....according to St.Fothad's Charter when he gifted it to the monks of Loch Leven. A very old road continues beyond Balgreggie Farm which takes you to the Kinglassie road but we'll walk back to the kirk. Today Balgreggie Park, built just after the 1921 Housing Act, all semi-detached bungalows and villas is a tribute to its architects, far advanced for their time.

Back at the junction of Balgreggie and Woodend roads, we see the manse on the opposite side of the road from the kirk. Today it is a modern house built by Bett the 1970's and paid for by the congregation. It was built on the site of the previous manse greatly renovated in 1890 from the original manse of 1789. Before that the manse stood on the site of the present church.
Auchterderran church has a long history. Auchterderran was not the original name. That was Hurkyndorath. Both words have the same meaning, though of different derivation. Hurkyn means" pig" and" dorath" is a grove and it refers to the high ridge just beyond the church. A traveller in ancient times on seeing the crags..Craigderran or the Craigs as they are commonly named...might have exclaimed "Ah!the pig-shaped hill of the oaks." (Celtic). Auchterderran, though of later derivation, is composed of parts of similar meaning. The Gaelic Uachdar meaning "high land" and "doirean" an oak copse. Hence Auchterderran is also the high land of the oaks.
Hurkyndorath was the second cell or church of the Culdees of Loch Leven after Portmoak.Sometime, perhaps in the 5th or 6th century, the Culdee monks making their way to the coast by the safest and shortest route through the abundant oak forest and avoiding the bogs which covered most of the land, would pass through Hurkyndorath where the fords were known and where the saddle tracks led to Pettycur by the ancient way of Gleniston and Auchtertool and decided to start a cell there. References are made to the monk's cell in the kirkyard being a cave there and the land definitely drops to the Kirk Burn. The old Monk's well lies buried about 20 yards below the east dyke of the kirk yard. The internal overflow was, in the late l9th century, made into a well in the dyke leading along the common walk adjoining Kirkshotts Garden. It is about 20 yards from the Kirk Burn. It was used as the manse well for several hundred years until in 1845 the minister had a new well sunk in the manse grounds. It went dry one day as a consequence of the mineral workings of Bowhill Colliery.

We know that one of the monks associated with Hurkyndorath was named Fothad. Both could have lived there but it is Fothad II whom we believe ministered there and in 1059 when he became the last Bishop of Alban (1059-1093) by St. Fothad's Charter. .De Ecclesia de Hurkyndorath...he gifted the church to the monks of Loch Leven. Fothad II performed the marriage of Malcolm Canmore and Margaret at Dunfermline in 1070 and tradition has it that she provided a hostel for travellers on the site of the present church. The building that stands in Auchterderran kirkyard today which became the mausoleum of the Kinninmonth family was the chancel or choir of the 1059 church and is known as St.Fothad's Chancel. Its Norman window frame was transferred to the present church in 1931 and now contains two fine stained glass windows. We do not know if the church was destroyed at the Reformation ...the manse was....but a new church is mentioned in 1676 and a new manse in 1634. The first Post-Reformation parson, George Boswell,...The Boswells of Balmuto were patrons of the parish, said be the last R.C.priest lived on his farm at Easter Bowhill; the small farm next to it is still called Parson's Mill.

Beside the kirk stands the Old Schoolhouse built sometime between 1730 and 1783...the records are lost...the upper floor being the schoolmaster's home and the lower floor the school. It was probably built nearer the end of that period for the old kirk was being demolished and the stones incorporated in the new building where the manse had stood. The school lay in the kirkyard between the l7th century church and where the new building was to be. The first school was built in 1668 as an act of charity from the departing minister who had intended to use the building material to repair his manse. He also persuaded the Kirk Session to provide some money and to allow the schoolmaster to cut as much timber as he required from the surrounding "yirds". Imagine building a school out of a salary of £6.13/4d (or £6.67p) It was described as a thatched building for 30 pupils.

Auchterderran had a schoolmaster from 1641 and both his house and the church appear to have served as a school. The school was now a permanence; the same could not be said for the schoolmasters. In a mortification of 1660 of Mr. David Scrimgeour, a feu had been gifted on which to build a house for the schoolmaster. It was situated on the Kirkhill. After the new school was built that house was used by the beadle. Beyond the manse to the north when the Rev .A.M. Houston arrived in the parish there was only Craigderran,a lovely big house surrounded by trees, the property of the Goodall family, coal masters. It was built before 1856 by Thomas Goodall, the son of Alex Goodall who was the manager of Ferguson of Raith's coalfield at Cluny in 1821. It seems to have been let on a number of occasions for Dr. Rorie lived there also. Later it became the home of the Agent of the Fife Coal Co. and now it is divided into flats. Next to it was the coachman's house. Then the smiddy and four houses. Auchterderran Public School which dominates the scene today was built in 1904. It closed in 1987 and is now a Teachers' Centre. This district north of the kirk is Woodend and since 1900 has been a pleasant residential area, a mixture of private, rented and Council houses. On the Kirk Feu leased for housing in 1924, the first house, Balderran, built by the publican of the Auld Hoose, became the schoolhouse in 1936. Next door lived the dentist and then one of the doctors.Across the road stands the War Memorial (sculptor,Murdoch, Kirkcaldy) .It is unusual for one of the three figures on it depicts an airman.

The Auld hoose was there in 1885 and there had been an inn or ale house there long before that. A few houses lay round about the area known as Smiddyhill. It really was very peaceful round about the manse but that peace was soon to be shattered.

On the 28th of January 1885 the first sod of Bowhill Colliery was cut by Miss Josephine Haig,daughter of H.V. Haig of Ramornie, brother of Field-Marshall Haig and, in her honour, the pit was named the Josephine. Concurrently with the sinking of the pit, houses for their employees were built by Bowhill Coal Co. There were 19 rows of houses, named First Street, Second Street and so until Nineteenth all 532 houses, mainly two apartment with scullery and outside toilet. Although they could scarcely conform to the modern conception of good housing, at the time, they were an advance on conditions elsewhere in the Scottish coalfield.

The houses were adjacent to the pit and their drabness was aggravated by smoke from the pit chimneys, especially on washing days. Speculative private builders also began to erect houses, often in a row of six, the first house usually a three apartment was intended for the builder and his family, next door to that was a single-end then four two apartment houses all for renting. They were more attractive because they had gardens. Most of these were built by 1910 then there was a lull till after the 1914-18 war when the County Council started building at Balgreggie and Dundonald. It was 1945 when a big development scheme was begun at Cardenden. The time was coming, the mid 1950'when the Streets or the "Raws", as they were called, would be demolished. There were some who were sad to leave the "raws" because they were caring communities. There,they had brought up big families, sometimes ten or more children, lived through lock-outs ,strikes and long periods of unemployment. There was a great deal of sharing out of resources in hard times.

Right from the start there was a wide variety of shops opened in the village....butchers, confectioners, clothiers, grocers and spirit dealers. The miners considered that the prices charged in the latter were too high so they adopted the Gothenburgh system and the village had three Goths. Later becoming Public House Societies two of these are still operating. You were always aware of the pit in the village....the pit horn blew at regular times all day, the clang and clatter of shunting engines and the rhythm of machinery, the hard noise of the pit boots as the miners went off to work and the more scuffling steps as they walked home again. Above it all was the column of smoke from the pit chimney. Empty waggons were strung along the line from the pit ,over the bridge on the main road through between the houses of l0th and llth streets and out into the Daisy Park of Balgreggie Farm. I loved to watch the waggons for each one had a place name on it ....strange names from England and unpronouncable ones from Wales. But it wasn't all a world of work.

The miners all liked to be out in the fresh air. Many of them just hung around the Bowhill shops, leaning against the walls or sitting on their hunkers; others walked for exercise or gardened; many were pigeon fanciers and spent hours in their lofts; greyhounds and whippets were popular and required a great deal of exercise if they were to be successful at the dog racing; and, of course, all the mining villages were renowned for their football teams. Many professional players first played in these local teams, John Thomson included ...who now remembers Gammie Rangers, Bowhill Rovers,Bowhill Wednesday or Bowhill West End? And there was bowling,tennis and golf. When I was very young I remember quoits being played and outdoor draughts. Billiards was played at the miners' Institutes. And,if you could afford it, you could go to the pictures every night of the week for there were two picture houses, the Cinema which is still standing on Derran Drive but stopped showing films when the Rex opened about 1940 and the Picturedrome, better known as the Goth. Each had three changes of programme weekly. There were also the gambling schools where they played Pitch and Toss.

The younger members of the family had a great choice of organisations to join, many of them attached to the churches Scouts and Cubs,Guides and Brownies, Boys' Brigade and Life Boys, Girls' Guildry. The churches played a greater part in the lives of the young people than they do today. Auchterderran Church hall was used every evening, often twice. There were Pipe Bands and Brass or Silver Bands supported by pennies collected from the miners'paypackets. Dramatic Groups played a large part in the life of Bowhill. Joe Corrie whose name is now commemorated in the Corrie Community Centre was only two years of age when his family came from Slammanan in 1896. His father had been a grocer there but he worked as a miner at Dundonald pit. The Family settled at Denside,a group of miners' houses just north of Dundonald and lived there until 1928 when they moved to 99,Dundonald Park. Joe was a pupil at Cardenden and Auchterderran Schools and in an article written in 1958 and entitled "Fifty Years Ago" he recalled his schooling at both with gratitude for the high standard of education he received there. He left school in 1908 and found work at Dundonald pit. Like many' miners, he continued his education through his own reading. He did go underground for a short time but by 1920 he was again on the pithead. He had already started writing plays about life in a mining community but he didn't talk about that part of his life. His plays all had political undertones. Conditions in the pits around Cardenden were reputed to be among the worst in Scotland in the early part of the century and the miners the most politically active. Many saw in Communism a means of improving the conditions of the working classes. Joe Corrie had always been interested in Drama, and Bowhill was a regular centre for the Penny Geggies.. plays put on by travelling actors in a portable tent or local hall. Herbert Thomas first set up his tent on Bowhil Farm in 1910 and from then on, Cardenden was his base. The family finally settled in Bowhill and when they formed a dramatic group there Corrie helped behind the scenes. Another dramatic club had been formed in 1920, Auchterderran Dramatic Club, and he was invited to join. At that time they were producing his plays and he enjoyed acting in them but when the producer said they had to cater for all tastes Joe decided to form the Bowhill Players, later known as the Fife Miner Players and travelled around the country with his own plays. Joe left Cardenden to seek his fortune in London in 1929 but his writing was too "kitchen sink" for the days of Noel Coward and disillusioned he returned to Scotland and spent a number of years in Ayrshire where his family seemed to have moved but he retained contacts with Cardenden. He came back to his roots in 1958 when he and his wife moved into a new house in Glenrothes at 2l, Warout Road. He continued his writing even when his eyesight was failing. To a new friend in Glenrothes he showed boxes and boxes of unpublished writing. It was sad really. He died in Edinburgh in 1964. In 1986, the Cardenden Nursery became a Community Centre and was named in his honour. It wasn't until the years after the Second World War that miners' sons on leaving school sought work elsewhere than the pits. And that was fortunate. By 1964 Bowhill pit had closed and those who wished to remain in mining went south to the midlands.

The miners had suffered hard times before and won through to fight again...Could the village survive the loss of the pits? At first it seemed unlikely. There had never been any other large employer in the village. Even those employed in shops found themselves out of work as the shops were forced to close. One by one the shutters went up and it was so depressing to walk through the centre of Bowhill.Now it was the unemployed who hung about the streets where once the miners had sought their breath of fresh air. There was plenty of that. In many homes it was the women who became the breadwinners for they had always had to seek employment in Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and Leslie. Now Glenrothes became a workplace also. It was hard on the older people too. They had been looking forward to better times, spending their last years comfortably in their new houses in Cardenden.

Bowhill Colliery was dismantled till only the washery remained but the bing loomed over the village for a few more years. In 1986 when the Cardenden Local History Group was formed Cardenden was classed as a "deprived area" and the class was provided free as there was nothing educational for the older residents of the village.

The land reclamation of the colliery areas at Bowhill and Dundonald began about 1990 and now playing fields and pathways cover the pit bings and pithead areas. To the north of the parish in the district of Woodend the contour of the land has been greatly altered by the spreading of the rock and soil removed from the Westfield opencast. Westfield Row emptied in the 1950's and Westfield Farm are under it. The lovely old road from Woodend to Loch Leven...a favourite picnic place for the miners' families when holidays meant "a day here and there" also closed. There are gains and losses. Much of the history has gone under the bing. As a history group we are sorry about that and we have tried to write about the village and that part of Auchterderran parish which surrounds it, as we remember it in the Twenties and Thirties when it was the largest village in Scotland which never asked for Burgh status.

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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