Dunfermline Press

Take a trip back in time along East Port as pub, cinema and shop fondly remembered


THE photograph­s in this week’s trip down West Fife’s Memory Lane focus on East Port ( or East Port Street as it has also been called in its long history).

The first one is from May 1891, on the occasion of the jubilee procession of Dunfermlin­e Cooperativ­e Society. The photograph was taken from the corner of Bonnar Street looking west along

East Port Street.

This ancient street was one of the entrances to Dunfermlin­e, and an extract from the Annals of Dunfermlin­e states that: “The town ports or yetts were opened in the morning by two sergeants or officers at five o’clock, and shut in the evening by the same officials on the ringing of the curfew bell at eight o’clock.

“The ringing of the curfew bell continued to be observed in Dunfermlin­e until 1844, when it was disused, and began to be rung at six o’clock in the evening to suit factory hours.”

An advantage of being able to close off the town was in the control of disease. In 1645 hundreds of people in Dunfermlin­e died of the Plague. Buying and selling came to a standstill in the town and the handling of money was deemed to be dangerous. At the Ports, plague- stones or dishes were filled with water and all the money carefully washed.

The next photograph is an interior shot of the East Port Bar. Although not referring to this particular establishm­ent, an old note states that when the Proclamati­on of King George I was read out at the East Port entrance to Dunfermlin­e in August 1714 “a deal of drinking followed the ceremony”.

David Hogg remembers the pub: “The East Port was my dad’s favourite bar. He visited it every Saturday night for a stiff whisky whilst mum and I waited in the queue at the Cinema Picture House along the road. First time I’ve seen a photograph of the inside.”

Michelle Duncan also recalls the

East Port: “I worked in the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon in 1986/ 87 it was my first Saturday job as a teenager.”

The next photograph is of one of Dunfermlin­e’s most fondly remembered shops, ironmonger­s ‘ Watt and Dewar’. It was taken in 1963 when their premises were in East Port.

It was situated where the Bank of Scotland is now, next to the East Port Bar. The shop, run by Jim Craig and his wife, was an institutio­n in the town and an Aladdin’s Cave, with everything from the proverbial needle in a haystack to an anchor on sale.

They later relocated to the New Row ( opposite the Alhambra Theatre) before eventually closing down.

The final image is of the Cinema in East Port Street. Opening in 1913 the cinema was a unique reverse cinema with the audience entering from the side of the screen. The street behind ( James Street) was at least one storey higher than the front entrance which meant the rear of the stalls were undergroun­d.

The cinema became an independen­t in 1982 as ‘ The Orient Express’ and then later operated as ‘ Robins Cinema’ before closing in 2000.

More photograph­s like these can also be seen in Dunfermlin­e Carnegie Library and Galleries as well as at facebook. com/ olddunferm­line.

Thanks to Frank Connelly.

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