Memories of the Binn Village

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On this page, families share their memories of the Binn Village.

Mary Hood and the Binnend Village

Please click here for Lynda McLeod's story of her mother Mary Hood, the Hood family, and their time at Binnend - including seven old photographs.


The Gordon and Hood Families

Pictured above - two photos of the Gordon family at Binnend in the 1920s.

The photos came from Gordon Blackburn, who commented: "I find your site fascinating. As a toddler I vaguely recall going up the Binn with my Mother and visiting the Hoods. My Uncle was Alex Hood who lived in Edinburgh. My mother's family were the Gordons and appeared to spend a lot of time up the Binn in the 1920s and 1930s. Alex Hood died in the late sixties. I think he had just retired. I remember his mother about 1953-54. We called her Granny Hood. He is the Alex in the photo you show of a group of men with the ice cream cart. He is 5th from the left."


The McNab and Moir Families

Moir family

The photo on the left is from Alastair Moir. It shows his great grandmother, Emily McNab, and her family at Dreadnought, Princes Street, Binnend (High Binn), in 1910. Emily was the widow of Peter McNab, mason, and she lived in Dundee Terrace, Edinburgh. It is not clear if she rented the Binnend cottage as a short term holiday home or as a full time tenant.

The adults are (left to right): Emily McNab (née Menzies, 1842-1914), Mary Moir (née McNab, 1880-1943), Robert Moir (1880-1917). The young boy is George Moir (1905-88), and in the pram is Emily Moir (1909-1989). Respectively they are Alastair's great grandmother, grandmother, grandfather, father and aunt.

Alastair recalled: "My father took me to see the site in 1950 and it had clearly been a memorable part of his childhood. As usual, there are a lot of questions that I should have asked!"


The Christie Family

Please click here to view a superb collection of four old photos of the Binn Village, its people, and its shop. The photos are from the collection of the late Annie Christie.


The Brand Family

Faye Brand

Faye Lane (née Brand), who now lives in New Zealand, sent these three photographs of her parents. The family used to holiday at the Binn Village, and the photos were taken there around 1936. Winnie Brand, Faye's mother, is in the photo on the left, holding her daughter. The two photos below show Tom Brand, Faye's father. Tom later became a familiar face in Burntisland as a local fishmonger, selling fish from his van (see separate photo).

Tom Brand

Tom Brand


The Bennet Family

Raymond Kidd of Aberdeen emailed us in 2002 with some reminiscences from his mother, who lived at Binnend with her family after the First World War. His mother was then Bessie Bennet, aged about seven or eight when she went to Binnend. Bessie was 90 years of age in November 2002, and to mark the occasion Ray presented her with a framed copy of an old postcard of the High Binn like the one shown here:

The High Binn

Here are Bessie's memories, as related by Ray:

"My mother relates nostalgically how after the war (1914-18) some of the war widows were given houses up the Binn. They had been miners' houses and the war widows were taken up the hill with their families and told to 'just take whatever one you want'.

"[My mother remembers] the summer visitors from Glasgow taking the let and the family having to use the back window as entrance and exit to keep the one doorway clean for the guests' arrival!

"Then there was the man who brought the visitors up from the station on his horse and cart (Mr Taylor?). He would invariably stop half way up and disgorge passengers and luggage at the track side, complaining that the horse was too tired to go any further. The Binn children would earn a penny or two lugging the cases the rest of the way.

"Then there was Mr Kaye, who daily came with his cart to empty the 'slops' from the outdoor privies. The children called him the King of the midden. Mother recalls him living in a house with 'pillars'. This was probably one of the previous foremen's houses. She remembers visiting with the daughter of the house and hearing her play on the piano 'Melody d'amour' which still evokes that impressionable visit. Another vivid recollection was seeing four doors leading off the entrance hall, probably to rooms, but to a child from a room and kitchen cottage, a sight of great mystery.

"Another anecdote that came up ... was how the Binn people were looked down on by people in the more modern 'Cooncil hooses' beyond Low Binn.  She passed a similarly aged small girl swinging on a gate in these same 'Cooncil hooses'. 'I don't like Binn girls,' she sneered as my mother passed. Then when almost out of earshot, the still swinging girl sweetly added 'But I like Binn boys!' "


The Morrison Family

Finlay Morrison (died 2015, aged 101) had many happy memories of the High Binn, where he was brought up. His father Kenneth and mother Catherine moved there from Harris in the Western Isles around 1918 with their four children, and Kenneth started work at the British Aluminium plant. Finlay's older brother, Murdie, had a few problems at school in the early days, for he spoke only Gaelic when he arrived.

The Ice Cream Cart Visiting the High Binn

The photo shows the horse drawn ice cream cart visiting the High Binn in the early 1930s, gaining access via the track from the east. The cart belonged to Luciani's of Kinghorn, and the ice cream vendor is George Murdoch. The photo also shows that Finlay Morrison (third from the right excluding the ice cream vendor) had by then become the best dressed kid on the block. Fifth from the left (excluding the girls, who are probably visitors from West Lothian) is Jimmy Wilson of Kinghorn Road, who was good enough to lend us the photo. Jimmy remembers most of the names, and the full line up from left to right (excluding the girls and the vendor) is: Tommy Montgomerie, Charlie Patterson, Bert Murdoch, Alex Hood, Jimmy Wilson, Willie Cooper, David Blake, unknown, Finlay Morrison, Willie Hartshorne, unknown.

Finlay's niece, Rachael Cunningham of Ferguson Place, pointed out to us that not every house at the High Binn lacked piped water. Her father, Kenneth junior, succeeded in running a pipe from the well to the Morrison home! Rachael also treasures the family collie's identity disk, on which is inscribed the irresistible "My name is Calay. Please take me home to 117 High Binn."


The Alexander Family

Stuart Alexander writes: "Greetings from New Zealand. My name is Stuart Alexander. I was born in 1935 and grew up in Burntisland, living at 40 Dick Crescent. George Alexander, my father, was born up in Binnend village in 1905 and worked in the B.A. aluminium works until his death in 1957. My grandfather, David Alexander who lived at 155 Kinghorn Road, was Burntisland's oldest inhabitant when he died (in either late 1959 or early 1960) when he was in his 99th year. My great grandmother, Barbara Alexander (husband was Benjamin), at one stage ran the Binnend Village Store. I have not visited Britain since 1973, but I'm always pleased to hear news from Burntisland." (Contact Stuart via Iain Sommerville.)


The Paxton Family

The Paxtons

We received this photograph from Isobel Ferguson. She told us that the older couple on the right are her grandparents, Mary and John Paxton. On the left are her other grandparents, William and Agnes Tait, with their daughter Annie and her two children.

Isobel says that the Paxtons lived at the Binn village, and she believes that the photo was taken there on the occasion of a family reunion around 1930. John Paxton worked on the land and moved around quite a bit. He lived latterly in Dunfermline, where he died in 1940 at the age of 80.

Isobel would like confirmation that the photo was indeed taken at the Binn village. If anyone recognises the location, please contact us.


A Burntisland resident recalls life in the Binn Village around 1930
(Previously published in the Burgh Buzz, April 2000)

Coming down from a walk over the Binn it is rather sad to see the site of the drowned village. There are many pictures available of the rows of houses which were well-built, if lacking in size and amenities. The basic services were attended to and the stoves in the houses burned most rubbish. If the wells froze in winter a kettle of hot water fixed that.

Social activities for children centred on the large flat area which served as a football pitch. It was a busy scene with children riding their bikes round the edge, some practising putting and boys would be kicking a football about. At night, in the dark, with only the glow of the paraffin lamps from the houses lighting our way, we would play 'kick the can'. The building which had been meant for a school served as a dance hall. Very often an accordion player was hired and a dance held on Saturday nights. There was space for four eightsome reels sets. Another dance that was popular was the Lancers but we could only fit in two sets because of the nature of the dance - the girls were twirled round till their legs swung out! Ladies who didn't dance sat along the back row enjoying their night out. Usually someone rendered a song while the band had a rest.

The proximity of Burntisland Golf Course was a great asset to the village. All the teenage lads earned their pocket money as caddies and went on to become keen golfers. There was some indignation when two girls made an early bid for Women's Lib by becoming regular caddies for two elderly gentlemen. Perhaps the golfers found the girls were less liable to criticise their game.

Two coal lorries delivered weekly, as did butchers, bakers and vegetable vans. Balbie Farm delivered milk and a weekend treat was their scones and fresh butter. Of course there was Miss Murray's shop; she kept most things, all to hand, so that she never had to descend from her stool. We only visited Burntisland at weekends to do a bigger shopping. In those days it was a much livelier place and you could get everything you needed, from shoes and clothes to thread and ironmongery.

There were a mixed bunch of people living in the village. There was an acrobat who used to amuse the children by walking on his hands. He even perched his own children on top of a long pole balanced on his chin. There were English people, Irish people, reserved people from Edinburgh, people who drank too much. There was also a young man who had a most unusual hobby for those days, he used to knit the most beautiful jumpers and always showed us them when a new one was finished.

The annual trade weeks of Edinburgh and Glasgow were something to look forward to, unless Dad was on the night shift! The Willie Muir ferry brought gangs of happy people, dressed in holiday gear and carrying gramophones, melodeons, banjos and the latest tunes. Sleeping space was scarce but not essential as they meant to 'Dance All Night' anyway. Some of the houses were always let as holiday homes and used at weekends and holidays but some of the ordinary residents took advantage first of the Edinburgh trades fortnight, then of the Glasgow one, by vacating or moving into the back room of their house so that the front room could be let. Then it was in and out of the back window instead of the front door! The Glasgow holidaymakers were just the same, only the accent was different. Music and ice cream were in great supply.

Sunday school was held in the Low Binn, as was the 'Band of Hope', every full moon. The Burntisland funeral undertaker organised the events! On Sunday mornings the men sat along the dyke at the brae heid and discussed affairs, there being no cars to wash or lawns to mow. Women gave this gathering a wide berth.

On school days we used to go flying down the path jumping from stone to stone, a book clutched in one hand and a piece in the other. We had an hour for lunch and used to run back home - we must have been very fit. Occasionally the view over Pettycur Sands would prove too tempting for us and then the janitor, known as the Whippet, would come looking for us. It is not really true that villagers always know each other's business. The affairs of grown-ups would usually strike us as hilarious. If real trouble arose we knew the reliable folks would sort it out. As one wag used to say: 'Lenin and Borrowin was the wey tae dae it.' There was real kindness and help amongst the families and isolation must have been by personal choice.

Over the years a number of families emigrated to Canada or Australia. It was a strange feeling seeing our friends setting out for the other side of the world, but many of those families still visit Burntisland from time to time. By the start of the Second World War most of the remaining families had been relocated to the newly-built houses at Meadowfield and after the war the Binn houses were demolished by the army.

Maybe in the future Alcan will flatten it all down again, and sell it off for houses with a wonderful view.

Webpage by Iain Sommerville; Help on bookmarking this page.