House History Example
This is a Victorian property, one of seven in the row, situated in Kirkcaldy, Fife which used to be a thriving harbour town and famous for its floor covering trade.
This particular house was built on three floors with one large reception room (dining room), another smaller room (morning room/study) and kitchen etc. on the ground floor, one large reception room (drawing room) and two bedrooms on the middle floor and a nursery, maid's room, dark room and bedroom on the third.
SO WHO LIVED IN A HOUSE LIKE THIS
Research You traced records and found that the land on which the house was built was part of a parcel of land purchased by a wealthy Floor Cloth Manufacturer from the local landowner in 1872. He subsequently sold this land on to an Architect and Builder who erected this row of townhouses which was completed in 1875.
The first owner was WILLIAM WEIR, he purchased the property in 1875 from the architect and lived there with his wife Janet and their family for three years, during which time daughter Isabella was born on 11th February 1877. She is likely to have joined her older siblings Andrew aged about 10, Thomas aged about 8, William aged about 6 and Jessie aged about 1 in the nursery quarters on the third floor. Three other children were born after the family moved from this house, David, Alexander and Tomasina. William Weir was a Cork Cutter by trade, which in a harbour town such as this was a lucrative trade, so much so that William Weir subsequently became a wealthy ship owner. In his later years he moved to Glasgow where his son Andrew was making his mark as a Ship Owner. Andrew was raised to the peerage and became Baron Inverforth in recognition of his service during WW1 supplying stores and equipment to the army.
In 1878 THOMAS BAIN purchased the property. He was a 57 year old retired Spirit Merchant who had been in partnership with his brother William. Following William’s death and the death of his eldest brother James (also a Spirit Dealer) Thomas and his two spinster sisters, Margaret and Isabella, moved into the house together with ISABELLA STUART, a niece who had been widowed in 1874, Isabella subsequently re-married and her stepdaughter ROBINA MCCULLOCH moved in to care for the aging siblings. Margaret died in 1883, Thomas died in 1887 and Isabella died in 1892. Following Isabella’s death the house became the property of her younger brother DAVID BAIN, who lived in Leven, but the house lay empty for some years until sometime after 1895 when it was let to JOHN DANIEL SWANSTON.
JOHN DANIEL SWANSTON was an Architect who moved to Kirkcaldy in 1895 from Edinburgh. He set up business in the town, initially in partnership but latterly he practised alone. When John moved in to the house he was a bachelor, living with him was his mother and younger sister Rose. But sometime in 1898/1899 his married sister Elizabeth, known as Bessie, joined her family, and it was there that she gave birth to her daughter Marie on 26 November 1899. It is likely that it was at this time, after a 3 year period of inoccupation, that the bedroom on the third floor was redecorated to accommodate either Bessie or Rose. Wallpaper which was found intact, inside the cupboard of this room has been dated, by two independent sources, as being a pattern from the late 1890s. (see image 1) Whilst living in the house, John designed and built two substantial villas in the town, one for himself and his new wife, whom he married in 1903, and another for his mother, his sister Bessie and her child. Rose also lived there until she married in 1909. John was involved in designing many local landmarks including lodges for Beveridge Park, the local swimming pool and several theatres in the area. He also designed Bain Hall in Leven which was gifted to Leven Free Church by DAVID BAIN in 1896 (see above), that is therefore likely to be the reason that JOHN SWANSTON was occupying the house at this time. John and his family moved out of the house in 1902 following the death of DAVID BAIN whereupon it was sold.
The house was then purchased by JOHN SCOTT FOREMAN who moved in with his wife Ann and their 3 children Thomas aged about 14, Jessie aged about 12 and John aged about 9. Sometime between 1891 and 1895 John had changed his occupation from that of a Wood Carver to that of an Inspector of the Poor and Collector of Rates, it may have been when the government of the Poor Houses was transferred from the Parochial Boards to the Local Government Board in 1894. In 1902 this position paid a superannuation allowance of not more than 156 pounds per annum which at 2010 (the latest date of calculation) would have had an economic power income value of £119,400.00. By 1920 John was a man of substance owning not only this property but also 16 others. Coincidentally, John’s wife, ANN LAING, was the younger sister, by 16 years, of JANET LAING wife of WILLIAM WEIR the first owner/occupier of the property. The couple sold the house in 1922.
Between 1922 and 1928 WILLIAM ROSS and his wife LIZZIE PAUL INNES lived in the house. William came from a small village in Caithness where he had been brought up by his grandmother, but by the time he was 21 he had moved to Fife and was teaching at an Elementary School in Anstruther. He later became a School Master in Lochgelly and in 1917, when he was 37, he married the 28 year old Lizzie, a School Teacher from Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. William then moved to Kirkcaldy and became Headmaster of Pathhead Public School which had been built in 1913. The school no longer exists having been burnt and subsequently demolished. There does not appear to have been any children from the marriage.
Another School Head Master, WILLIAM PENMAN, and his family lived in the house between 1928 and 1937. It would appear that William bought the house following his retirement, as he is by this time aged 65, and it is likely that this is the first property that he has owned as the family had lived in School House accommodation firstly in Collessie, Cupar where William’s two daughters Helena and Alexandrina were born and where William became Head Teacher and then in Kennoway where they moved to between 1915 and 1920. Following the death of Mary, William’s wife, in 1937 he and his daughter Alexandrina moved to Essex to be close to his other daughter Helena who had since married.
ROBERT HASTIE then purchased the house. He was an insurance agent who had moved from Hawick. He and his wife ISABELLA KING MCLEAN had been married in 1918 in Berwick on Tweed. Previously Robert had worked as a Railway Guard with his father who was the Station Master. The couple moved to Kirkcaldy in 1937 from Berwick and lived in the house until 1946 with their two children Eva born 1921 and James born 1927, both of whom had been born in Berwick. In 1939 Eva married. Robert and Isabella then moved to Aberdeen. After Robert’s death Isabella returned to Kirkcaldy to be with her children.
In 1946 HAROLD ANDREW WOODWARD and his wife Mary Ann purchased the house and lived in it for two years. Harold was a Gentleman’s Outfitter from Kirkcaldy who married Mary Ann a shop’s manageress in 1940. It would seem that Harold worked in the family business as his father Percival is noted in the Trades Directories between 1928 and 1936 as being a clothier and draper in the town. Harold and Mary Ann did not have any children and died within a year of each other in 1985 in Kirkcaldy.
The next occupants of the house only lived in the house between March and November 1950. It is likely that REDVERS BARTON was born in about 1900 in England and married is wife GWENNIE (GWELLENTHIAN) HATTON 2nd Quarter of 1924 in Middlesborough (9d 1119) He is noted as being a Tobacconist with a business address in the High Street, Kirkcaldy and it is possible that in November he moved to residential quarters above the shop, as many did. He later moved back to England.
It was at this time that Bennochy Terrace was renamed Bennochy Road and incorporated into Kirkcaldy Burgh.
He sold the property on to another Tobacconist GEORGE WADE and his wife MARGARET YOUNG KENT. They are noted as living at Dunnikier Hotel prior to moving to the house, however it is not clear if they were working and living there. George married Margaret Young Kent in 1941 in Edinburgh when he was 34 and she was 32. George’s family came from Yorkshire and Margaret from Gordon.
It is at this point I feel it is inappropriate to continue with further detail out of respect to any potential living family members.
This is only a précised version of the families who lived at 2 Bennochy Terrace. A full version is available upon request.