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Kinross Steeple

Tour Kinross and Loch Leven

In 1741 the Presbytery of Kinross came to the conclu-
sion that the old Church (built in 1240) in the graveyard
at the side of the Loch was no longer adequate. They
therefore asked the Heritors to erect a new Church in our
High Street. The plans of the new Church, however,
did not include a tower or spire and the inhabitants,
considering this necessary, called a public meeting, which
met in March, 1742, under the chairmanship of Rev.
Robert Stark, and formed a Steeple Committee.

This Committee raised the money required by public sub-
scription and, after overcoming many difficulties, the
Steeple was completed in 1761. Sir John Bruce of Kinross presented a clock for the Steeple, which did service
till 1875, when a new clock was purchased by the then
Burgh Commissioners and installed in the Steeple.

The old clock was purchased by a local manufacturer
and installed at his spinning mill in the town. I believe
it still does duty there. This old clock was made by a
noted Kinross clockmaker named Blair Flight. A number
of grandfather clocks made by that maker can still be seen doing duty in our local dwellings.

At a public meeting, held in 1751, it was decided that
the steeple bell should be “rung henceforth at 5 o’clock
in the morning and at 8 and 10 in the evening.” On
Sundays, it was rung at 8, 9 and 10 in the forenoon, also
it was decided that the last bell for divine service should
continue ringing for a quarter of an hour. This ringing
of the hell was continued regularly till a few years ago,
when our Town Council restricted it very much.

In 1831, when the present Parish Church was erected
on part of the glebe, the Steeple was not removed along
with the old Church and the property was sold to Kinross
Market Coy., who built the present Town Hall on the site.
This Company, which still exists, owns the Town Hall,
Post Office and Steeple, also the ground adjoining, including that on which the fountain now stands.

The Steeple Committee functioned for many years after
they had carried out the object for which they were first
appointed. There was no Town Council in these clays
and the Committee appears to have performed many of
the duties naturally falling to a Council, such as street
lighting, scavenging, etc. The Steeple Committee raised
the funds required for these purposes by subscriptions got from the inhabitants and by means of concerts, lectures, and in other ways. The streets were first lighted in 1793 by what are described as “Cruisey Oil Lamps.” These continued to function until after the Kinross Gas Co. was formed in 1835, when Gas Lamps were substituted. It may he of interest to note that the cost of installing these Gas Lamps was defrayed out of the proceeds of a “Musical Festival” held in the Picture Gallery of Kinross House The music was provided by a party from Dunfermlinle, Messrs. Tweedie and Henderson from Kinross and the Kinross Instrumental Band. Over 700 persons are said to have been present.

It was not till 1864 that the inhabitants made applica-
tion to the Sheriff, and Kinross was declared to be a
“populous place” under the General Police and Improve-
ment Act, 1862, and the affairs of our Burgh were there-
after administered by Commissioners elected and the
necessary funds were provided by amounts levied under
the powers given by that Act.

On Tuesday, 7th February, 1865, a public meeting was
held in the Town Hall, attended by 136 of the subscribers
to the Steeple Committee, when it was unanimously agreed to hand over the town’s lamps and fire engine to the newly elected Commissioners under the Police Act. From a report which appeared in the Kinross-shire A dvertiser, we learn that this meeting, differing from some previous meetings, which are reported to have been conducted with a good deal of wrangling, “was conducted with great good humour and at times of amusement and formed a graceful denouement as the last of the Steeple Committee whose association during the past hundred years will have a lasting tie on this
older portion of the community-”

It is interesting to note that the fire engine handef
over was a very old one, bought by the Grahams of Kinros Estate in 1774, and was purchased by the Steeple Committee at the sale when Kinross House was displenished about 1820. We were always much interested in on fire engine, christened by us “Beishazzar,” which for on one hundred years was the only fire engine in the County.

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