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Report - Nairns Lino works, Kircaldy



dweeb

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#1
The Nairn's lino works is a very striking stone built works. With most of the factory long since demolished, the looming stone building almost looks out of place rising up from the overgrown field of rubble behind it. It would seem at some point the whole mill has been gutted of it's floors and then been re-built in concrete. This means the windows are not at their correct height with the floor, meaning you can see the new levels through the now broken glass. I'm not sure if the huge long windows were originally one floor, but if they were that mush have been one hell of a room!

Inside the building was in an advanced state of dereliction, but once again the detail and history was there if one took the time to look.

From what I have read the building's future is the same old story once again. Granted listed status in the 1990's, sat there for 10 years and now the council want to de-list and demolish. I'm shocked by this, as Nairns was a world famous company, and a huge part of Kircaldy's history, but also because the well proportioned building would make cracking flats, whit amazing views over the town and dock...

Some history...
KIRKCALDY was famous throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries for its linoleum manufacturing works. It was home to the first floorcloth manufacturer in the country, founded by Michael Nairn in 1847.

Nairn, who was born into a family of weavers, borrowed money from the bank to build a factory on Pathhead sands in 1847, making floorcloth.

The floorcloth was dried in the south-facing windows. But Nairn battled to promote the cloth before his death and died in 1858 aged 54, unaware of the legacy he would leave behind.

After his death, technological advances allowed the company to expand and demand increased.

Linoleum was introduced to the town in 1877, and eventually there were five other linoleum works in the town which rapidly became the main producer of the material worldwide.

Nairn's remained the biggest company and later competitors included Hendry, White & Strachan and Shepherd & Beveridge.

The railway arrived in Kirkcaldy, and at its harbour, in 1847. With the simultaneous development of Fife's coalfields, Kirkcaldy became a very busy port. The harbour was improved again in the early 1900s to service the linoleum industry with its raw materials, and to ship out the end product as well as coal.

Many civic buildings were donated by the trusts of these companies, including, Kirkcaldy High School – attended by Prime Minister Gordon Brown – and the museum and library.

Although linoleum production has declined drastically since the 1960s, Nairn's, now known as Forbo-Nairn still exists in the town. It remains one of the largest producers of linoleum in the world, having introduced CushionFloor and Marmoleum.

Interior designers say the UK is undergoing a "lino revival", appealing to the fad for "thirties revival" decoration which rejects the "student bedsit vibe".

Selling points are that linoleum will not crack or curl and surfaces can be left in its natural matte state or polished up for easy cleaning.

A few years ago the Kirkcaldy Renaissance Action Plan included proposals to redevelop "the lino works" into a museum and library.

The poem The Boy in the Train, by Mary Campbell Smith, is about a young boy travelling by train to visit his relatives in Kirkcaldy and becoming more excited during the journey as he notices the "queer-like smell" from Nairn's linoleum works.

The poem includes the final lines:

I'll sune be ringin' ma Gran'ma's bell,

She'll cry, "Come ben, my laddie",

For I ken mysel' by the queer-like smell,

That the next stop's Kirkcaddy!"
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