Kirkcaldy is the town that I live in. For all my life I lived in the large village next to Kirkcaldy, which is called Kinghorn, perhaps if Dooyoo adds Kinghorn then I can then write about there.
It's always hard I think to write about the place that you stay, as you don't really see it as a tourist, you tend to focus on the bad parts or the not much to do parts. I will do my best though.
So, anything famous or special about Kirkcaldy? This is the home town of Gordon Brown. In fact he was in my mother in laws class at school. This town was very famous in the past for Linolium. I got told that the town stank of the stench of it, but those days are long gone. A famous thing is the travelling fun fair that comes every April. Opens on a wednesday in the middle of April, and packs up the following Monday. This is situated on the Prom, which is a mile long road, which is near the sea front. It is probably the main road through Kirkcaldy, so when the fair is here, then the road is obviously shut. This means that you have to drive along the road parallel, which is called Links Street. This street is not the best, as most of the dole kids are housed here and it is known as a hard to let area. I haven't had any trouble on here though.
So how big is Kirkcaldy? Well i'm not the best person to know about these things. I would say the town is about 6 miles wide and probably 6 miles deep. There is a new large houseing estate being built up the top of the town, so that will probably add another 2 miles onto it. The next small town next to Kirkcaldy is called Dysart and this often gets counted as part of Kirkcaldy, but I never count it as that, because if it was then it wouldn't have a different name, would it?
What is there to do here? Not too much. I don't think much of the high street that's for sure. There is a shopping centre called The Mercat. This is all enclosed and has all the usual mainstream shops such as Argos, HMV, New Look, Evans, River Island, Claire's, Boots and so on. Not the largest shopping area, It would probably take you 4 minutes to walk from start to finish, but the shops are right next to each other, and packed in the area. There is also a main street that runs either side of the Mercat, but there is a lot of shut down shops and not that exciting shops. I think we need shops like Starbucks, The Body Shop, Lush and so on. Unfortunately Kirkcaldy is lacking the main shops like these.
Nightlife there is 2 nightclubs - Ocean, which used to be notorious for under agers, This is when it went under a different name, so not sure if it is any better now. The other club is called The Candle Rooms, and this used to be more over 25's that went here. Next door to this is a bar called Harlem, which often has live bands playing, and often has the big sports matches on. A chilled out bar. Kitty's is the Irish pub, which also had live bands playing, but often it is £8 to get in here and the drinks aren't cheap either. There is a small bar called The 80's bar, which as the name suggests plays 80's music. Although I was born in 1980, and don't have an idea of growing up in the 80's I like the music. The town has just been approved for a 3am drinking licence, before it was 2am, so the town is happy, but i'm not much into going out anymore.
Kirkcaldy is the home of Fife Flyers, the Ice Hocky team and it has an Ice Rink up the top of the town.
Eating wise there is 6-7 restarants, which are 3 indian and the rest just mainstream dining establishments. We have the usual chippies and takeaways and of course the trusty McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC. We really need a Burger King, as the closest is 12 miles away and I love a Whopper!
Leisure activities. There is 1 swimming pool, which went out in the dark ages. Just a boring, plain pool. Rectangular shaped with no flumes or fun things. There is a gym and sauna in the place as well. 2 other gyms are in the town. There is no cinema, as it shut down about 5 years ago, and the closest 1 is about 10 miles away. This town was the birth place of Adam Smith, and there is a theater named after him.
There is a retail park, which has 10 shops at it, which is a 15 minute walk from my house and they are currently expanding it to have a few superstores. Rumoured ones are Toys R Us, PC World and B&Q.
Not the most exciting place to be. The shops are pretty rubbish and it is lacking decent amenities for the modern life, but it's where I call home - for now!
Kirkcaldy, know as 'the lang toun' is a large town in central Fife. The town is very old and has a rich history being built up around the once busy harbour. In later years, the town was a hive of industry and at one point produced most of the world's linoleum in it's many factories. The town suffered decline as these factories began to close their doors (although some lino is still made in here) but is still a very busy and popular town. Kirkcaldy is also the birthplace of the famous 18th century economist, Adam Smith.
The town these days has a lot to offer both residents and visitors alike. Kirkcaldy boasts two shopping centres and a bustling high street, museum, the Adam Smith Theatre, football ground (Raith Rovers), Beveridge Park (which has many facilities in summer months e.g. boating pond, bouncy castle), Ravenscraig Castle, and many other attractions.
The town is a little rundown in parts and you can see many derelict factories but in the main, Kirkcaldy is a pleasant town and has many new housing developments, offices, etc. There are many good schools, a sports centre, and two hospitals (one maternity). There are various hotels, B&B's and guesthouses for visitors and also a large caravan park. A visit to the Tourist Information Centre will be helpful in booking accommodation and they can also provide you with other information to help you get the most out of your visit!
this review isnt actually about kirkcaldy in general but rather about europes longest travelling fair which sets up once a year along kirkcaldys prom!
Although many of you will never have heard of it this travelling fair is world famous for many reasons not least the fact that it is still to this day the Europes longest travelling fairground. The giant Lorries carrying these fairground rides roll into Kirkcaldy at the same time every year and they have been since it started as a weekly market for traders, farmers, craftsmen and the like. In 1305. The market opens each year on the closest Wednesday to the 14th of April and stays open till the following Monday attracting more than half a million visitors over the six days.
Way back in 1304 a traders market began and a year later as Kirkcaldy was one of Scotlands oldest burghs it was granted permission to carry on with this market on a yearly basis. This type of market is said to have carried on right up until 1850 at which point the traders were granted access to Kirkcaldys promenade instead of being confined to Links Street. As there was now so much more space for the traders they soon started to look for new ways to make money and introduced stalls where tickets could be bought to try to win prizes and also the first coconut shys were believed to have been introduced.
In 1903 tramways were introduced to links street and the traders were forced out of there altogether and there for took up even more of Kirkcaldys long promenade which is where the market still sets up to this day. By this time steam had began to be used to harness power and the first rides were being introduced to the market, a few carousels and a hand turned swing ride were said to be the first to appear. Along with these there were now tents with performers eager to entertain the public in exchange for their hard earned pennies.
By the mid 1900`s the rides were taking over the market, the sellers and entertainers had all but gone to make way for the men who could make real money by thrilling the crowds with their rides. This period saw the arrival of the hobby horses a ride which still comes to Kirkcaldy every year along with its giant organ built into the side of a trunk which pumps out organ music from opening time till closing. Along with the hobby horses came the speedway and the first Walters and each and every year since the rides have got bigger and faster.
As a local I have been visiting this market for as long as I can remember and before. Although it has always been a fairground during my years of coming it has still changed an awful lot, with new rides coming most years and even the way it is run changing noticeably. Gone are the days where the showmen used to run round collecting the fairs of people as the ride was starting and having to hunt them down at the end of the ride for your change. Its all pay booths and tokens and tickets these days which does take away some of the atmosphere of the old days where it was just a mad rush to find a seat first. These days due to health and safety its all cues and first come first serve.
The type of rides is what fascinates me most; many things have evolved but actually changed very little! Some rides however are of brand new concept and tend to draw the biggest crowds, each year there will usually be one new ride and that is the one you will have to cue to get on and pay the most to ride. For the last few years there has been one favourite which stands at the very front of the market called the bomber. Its similar in style to the old dive bombers but much higher. It is basically one arm with a carriage on each end which spins round at your lowest point you are only a few feet of the ground but at your highest you are more than 50 metres of the ground. The ride turns so quickly that at night when the lights are on it leaves speed trails in the sky.
Gone are a lot of the old rides many of which were favourites of mine such as the speedway, whip and octopus they have all been replaced with more modern styles of being scared to death. As well as all the fast and tall rides which now come to the links market there has been for a few years now a full size twin tracked spinning roller coaster which has of course become a firm favourite with visitors.
The rides which attend this famous market are not only from all over Britain but are from all around Europe, the afore mentioned roller coaster travels each year from Holland and there are a few other rides from Belgium and France which appear at the links market from time to time. For one millennium market in 2000 the worlds largest big wheels were present having travelled from America to be at the links market. They were quite a spectacle standing side by side at a massive 95 metres high. This record has now been eclipsed and some wheels stand much taller but at the time they were the worlds largest.
Many different types of entertainment has passed through this market in the years I have been visiting it including a strip tent where adults could pay to go and watch strippers and us kids could go round the back and stick our heads under and watch for free (not that I ever did of course) ha-ha. There was also for a long time a tent which I remember well it housed the worlds tallest man and smallest lady.
This would of course be seen as cruel and rightly so, the giant man used to talk to the kids and I think he actually enjoyed meeting all the people but what a sad life it must have been for the two of them. Both are dead now and rumour has it the lady killed herself but I cant say if its true or not. I will never forget shaking hands with the giant man, aged 11 I was somewhat scared at first but his kind words made me instantly calm down. He shook my hand and said he was very pleased I had come to see him and what a handsome young man I was, patted me on the head told me to enjoy my time at the fair and moved on to the next child eager to see him. A memory I will never lose!
In more recent times there have been so called freak shows such as the house of oddities in which you could see such things as a rabbit with two heads and the skeleton of a man who stood only nine inches tall. These oddities were fakes as clear as the nose on your face but still people flocked to part with their money and look at this nonsense. Thankfully this no longer comes and this sort of robbery has been stamped out.
The actual location of the fair nowadays is half the length of Kirkcaldys promenade, the actual length of the fair is almost a mile exactly but there is also a part at the end which is much wider than the rest of the fair so if stretched straight out would actually measure over a mile in length. To see the prom transformed from an old boring stretch of road into a wonderland of excitement was something I used to look forward to as a child and still somewhat do to this day especially now as I have a son of my own who cant wait for the fairground to come and I can relive my memories through him.
Many people have different opinions on the fairground however claiming that it is grossly over priced and a total rip off. Yes it is expensive but you have to expect that to a certain extent, these showman have to travel miles to be here, spend days setting up, pay for their plots, pay the car garage and the cafe on the prom to close for the period they are here, pay the council the rent for the blocks of flats on the prom who get their rent free when the market is here because of the noise and pay for the policing of the event. The rides there for are hardly likely to be cheap. I have to admit some do try it on as they bump their prices up at the weekend because they know it will be busy but on average the prices for kiddies rides will be £1.50 and the adult rides will be £2.00 although the roller coaster is £2.50 or £3.00 at the weekends. The one ride which does charge through the nose is the afore mentioned bomber. It is usually £5 per person but can be seen as high as £10 per person at the weekends they claim this is because unlike other rides where many people ride at a time the bomber can only seat 16 people at the one time there for has to charge much more to make its money. Unfortunately as it is such a popular ride even at £10 per person they still have people lining up ready to ride so they get away with their prices.
There have been many rumours circulating for a long time that the market will eventually stop coming because of the charges placed on them for their time there and due to the closure of the prom driving big lorries and busses along links street, the health and safety issues are becoming more stringent too and there is also the factor of the trouble that can sometimes arise on a Friday and Saturday night. I for one would be very sad to see the end of this attraction it has been part of my growing up in Kirkcaldy and has already become part of my sons too. With that and the history that surrounds this fairground it would be very sad to see it end. I like many others have years of memories of this place and would love to have years more. I can still remember the E.T ride which came to the links market shortly after the release of the film and another called the ghost buster, all great rides which are now just memories as many of the present rides will be soon too no doubt.
A giant travelling fair and a giant piece of Scottish history which I hope will not be allowed to end!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my trip down memory lane as much as I have enjoyed writing it!
Despite what you may believe from reading some of the reviews in the Fife section, St Andrews isn’t the biggest town here. No, it’s not even the best! That honour is reserved for Kirkcaldy. Pronounced Kirk-Coddy (NOT Kirk-Cal-Day, please!!) Kirkcaldy is the largest town in Fife (although that is very heavily disputed by anyone from Dunfermline, Glenrothes, St Andrews, Leven, Lundin Links, Aberdour, Methil…!) and is, as you may have guessed, my home. Although I was born in Glasgow (please don’t tell anyone!) I was brought here as a toddler and I consider myself to be a Fifer. Known as the Lang Toun, for it’s long shape on the east coast of Fife and mile long High Street, Kirkcaldy was the birthplace for that king among floor coverings, Linoleum. Famous sons include the world-renowned economist Adam Smith – for whom the town’s theatre is named – and Architect Robert Adam. The actor Ewan MacGregor learned his craft in Kirkcaldy Tech (which has now been renamed Fife College for reasons best known to the Government!) and our art gallery regularly holds exhibitions of sought-after paintings by local artist Jack Vettriano. Current Chancellor Gordon Brown was also brought up and educated here (though that’s maybe not a fact that will entice many people to come up and visit!) Every spring, the Links Market rolls into town. Situated on the Esplanade, it is the longest street fair in Europe and has been a fixture in the town for hundreds of years. It is responsible for some of my best – and worst – memories of the town! It is a fantastic time in Kirkcaldy: people are noticeably cheerier and music fills the nearby High Street. Unfortunately for me, every year I forget that I cannot cope with rides that go upside down and end up… well, I’ll leave that to your imagination, but it’s not pretty!! Our local football team, Raith Rovers, play in the Scottish First d
ivision and have had what can only be described as a rough time of it lately. From the glory days of 1994 when they beat (nay, hammered!) Celtic on penalties to take the Coca-Cola cup and play in Europe for the first time, they are now on the brink of bankruptcy, reduced to begging people to attend home games. Their ground, Starks Park, is rarely anywhere near full and the local paper, The Fife Free Press, now swaps advertising spaces on a special page for a £100 donation to keeping the club alive. Other sports teams include the Fife Flyers; our ice hockey team who I believe are doing pretty well for themselves (though I don’t follow them myself, sorry) and Kirkcaldy Rugby Club, currently beating the big boys in the Scottish Premiership. And yes, as much as I love Kirkcaldy, it could be described as being a little in the doldrums. Only last week our cinema (a lowly three screen affair with fungi growing on the walls of the toilets – really!) was forced to shut down after being unable to cope with the competition of a new multi-plex in nearby Dunfermline. However, the town is trying to pick itself up, with the aid of a new town centre management team and the local mascot (or so we’re told!) KirkCatty – a cat that looks an awful lot like a fox!! Trying to find something else to do to pass the time now the cinema has gone, though, is extremely difficult. We have lots of well tended parks, but these have very little entertainment other that crazy golf, rowing and hanging around the dark bits, getting drunk (or so I’m told!) There is a good museum, although the exhibits are getting rather dusty seeing as they’ve been there for decades! You could try the pantomime, and you don’t even need to worry about who’s starring – it’s the cast of Take the High Road every year! And if all else fails you could do what I do when I’m able – take a trip to the train station and get on the next tra
in to Edinburgh! Like any town it has problems with crime, and it is impossible to go anywhere at night without catching sight of drunk teenagers – and adults, come to that – but there is usually a noticeable police presence in the town and if do you happen to call the police out they will be with you fairly quickly and, as a rule, will be friendly and polite. The High Street is also packed to bursting with traffic wardens looking out for those parked on the pedestrian zone, so watch out! Our hospital, the Victoria, is large and well equipped, and – if you must stay in hospital – it’s not a bad place to be. The food, though…! Ugh! And don’t think you can avoid it by not eating, because what you don’t eat for your dinner you’ll get for your tea! Kirkcaldy does suffer from many problems – including some crime and deprivation - but you will find all of these problems repeated over and over again in every town and city in the UK. Overall, Kirkcaldy is a good place to live, with friendly people and a variety of shops and businesses and if you are considering a trip as a tourist I recommend you do as there are many places in the town that are worth a visit (and, hey, you might even meet me!) And if you do decide to ignore my recommendations and go to St Andrews instead, then why not spare an afternoon to travel down and pay us a visit – you may well be glad you did. If you want to find out more about the town, here are a couple of good sites that you could visit (none of which, I should state, have anything to do with me): www.fife.gov.uk/kirkcaldy/ has a good historical background on the town, but is short and doesn’t carry much detail about the town today, www.fifefreepress.co.uk/ is the site of our local paper, The Fife Free Press, and carries a good selection of local news for those of you who can’t get your hands on the real thing. www.
madasafish.com/~kirkcaldy/ has a good page of links to sites related to Kirkcaldy, including Raith Rovers, Fife Flyers and also Fife Tourist Board.