Before the Bus Station
By Sue Mowat
“I remember when all this was all fields”. So many Dunfermline people must have said that, as the town expanded throughout the centuries after King David I granted his tiny burgh to the Abbey in 1124, shortly after he came to the throne. The full story of that expansion remains to be told, but this is how it began. The earliest houses in the new burgh lay on the north side of what became the High Street, between the streets we now know as Bruce Street and Cross Wynd. Behind the houses long narrow yards called burgage plots stretched back to a lane known as Rotten Row, named after the row of ‘rattan’ or rough-timbered barns that lined its northern side. Behind those barns lay fields where the burgesses grew oats and barley, and it is over some of those former fields that, after eight centuries, the Dunfermline Bus Station was built. Our part of the story of the development of those fields begins in the late 18th century, with a map and the lives of a remarkable woman and her three daughters, who married three brothers.
The map (available online at Scotland’s Places) was made in 1771 to define an alteration in the border between the Pittencrieff and Urquhart lands. It covers the whole of the Pittencrieff estate, which extended from beyond the Carnock Road on the north down to Limekilns on the south and in itself it is fascinating. Bt the interesting section of the map, for anyone who wants to know what the town was like at the time, is a very accurate sketch plan of Dunfermline itself – the earliest known detailed plan of the town. There is an earlier one, but it shows only the street plan. Below is the section of that plan that covers the area north of Rotten Row and here is an explanation of the significant features.
‘Jon Black’s Park’ was a large enclosed field belonging to John Black of Chamberfield, the Town Clerk, who we will meet later. The ‘Burger Meeting’ at the bottom right-hand corner was the forerunner of the building we now know as the Erskine Church. The back lane at the foot of the gardens of the houses in Rotten Row is still a right of way, running along the north boundary of the Bus Station.
Some additions have been made to the map that will help to make sense of places mentioned in the documents that follow. A marks the foot of the huge mill dam, where the Tesco supermarket now stands. B is the site of the Slaughter House that was built in 1787, on a site belonging to ‘Bailie Black’, and C is the site of Gillespie Church. The red dotted line marks the route of a street that was called ‘the street between the Slaughter House and the Dam’ before it was named Knabbie Street.
Christian Hutton and her Daughters
Now to introduce the ‘extraordinary woman’. Her name was Christian Hutton, youngest daughter of John Hutton, a tenant in the Kirkstyle of Dollar, and in 1749 she married James Alexander of Balrudry, who was the last heir to the Earldom of Stirling but never assumed the title. He practiced as a writer (solicitor) in Dunfermline and at one time was the Sheriff Substitute for West Fife. Their four known children, were John, born in 1755 who seems to have died young, Janet born in about 1759, Susan whose date of birth is unknown and Grizel (also called Grace) the youngest, born on 20 September 1771, and all were born at Dunfermline. The ‘extraordinary’ thing about Christian Hutton was that she ran a successful linen weaving business while her husband was still alive, something almost unheard of in those days. The preamble to the will she made in 1804 states this quite clearly.
I Christian Hutton, otherwise Alexander, Relict of the deceased James Alexander writer in Dunfermline. Considering that for a great number of years I have carried on the manufacture of Diapers &c in which my late Husband did not interfere and that by the profits made by me in the course of this business I was of very Considerable benefit to my Family, beside adding to my Stock and that at the decease of my said husband my Goods and Stock in Trade were valued and delivered over to me, it being understood That my Executors at my death were to be accountable for the sum at which my Goods and Stock in Trade were valued and which was to be divided equally betwixt my surviving daughters and the Heirs of my deceast Daughter. And further as I am determined to take what I consider the best method of carrying the foresaid division into Execution and to settle my whole Affairs, I have thought proper to make the following Trust Deed and Settlement.
Christian Hutton’s estate at her death in 1805 was worth £7,572 2/1½d, of which £6,142 13/7½d was the value of bleached and unbleached ‘diapers’ in her warehouse. (Diapers were damask table linens woven with simple patterns.) Christian’s profits had definitely been ‘of very Considerable benefit’ to her family and it was probably a combination of those profits and her husband’s lineage that helped her three daughters to make good marriages to sons of the merchant and bailie William Hunt and his wife, Helen Young.
Janet, the eldest, was married at the Dunfermline Associate Session (Erskine Church) to William Hunt jnr in 1779. Their children were William (1781), Christian (1782), James (1785), Ralph (1786) and Helen (1788). Janet had died by the time her mother made her will in 1804. Her husband William had bought the Pittencrieff estate in 1800 and when he died in 1807 his eldest son, William jnr, inherited it. He died in 1812 and was succeeded by his brother James – the laird of Pittencrieff who later chased the young Andrew Carnegie out of his grounds.
Susan married William Hunt’s brother Charles, manager of the Dunfermline branch of the Bank of Scotland, at the same church in 1794. Their children were James, Christian, William, Janet, Alexander and Helen.
Grizel did not marry until after her mother’s death in 1805, when she was aged 34 and her husband, James Hunt aged 44. As the youngest daughter she had probably been expected to look after her mother in her old age and could not marry until she was free of that responsibility. The couple lived in a house that James had built in 1798 on the north side of Rotten Row on land that had belonged to John Black of Chamberfield, owner of the large park on the 1771 map. Black had become bankrupt in 1791 and all his property had been put into trust for his creditors in 1796. After his death in 1797 the trustees sold all his lands, including the park and the Rotten Row properties and one of the Rotten Row plots was bought by James Hunt, who built a three-storey house on it.
By the time Wood’s plan of Dunfermline (above) was published in 1823 James Hunt had died and Grizel had sold their house to a grocer named James Husband and built herself a new one, marked ‘Mr Hunt’ on the plan. (The building number 10 on the plan is the Gillespie Church, with the lane along its south boundary. Number 11 is the old Grammar School, with the Erskine Church manse immediately to the west of it.)
Grizel seems to have been in financial difficulties by 1837, because in that year she mortgaged her property for £110 to her nephew James Hunt of Pittencrieff and his son Andrew, who according to the agreement would inherit it if after her death if the loan had not been repaid. The disposition by which Grizel transferred the property to the Hunts describes her house as having a stable and byre adjoined to it and a yard at the rear whose northern boundary was a hedge between her yard and another yard that she had sold to James Landale. It also mentions the lane along the southern boundary of the Gillespie church, which led to a barn and barn yard belonging to her and to the rest of her land, which extended north to ‘the road leading from the Slaughter House to the Dam’ (Knabbie Street). Grizel signed her name at the foot of page 2 of the document.
Grizel Alexander/Hunt died on 3 February 1841. She did not leave a will so the court appointed her last surviving sister, Susan Alexander/Hunt as her executor. The inventory of her goods was brief: there was £3 in cash in the house and the auction of her furniture held on 21 April realised £73 1/10d, which was a goodly sum for the time, when a house’s contents could be worth as little as £20 or less. The mortgage to the Hunts had not been paid off so they kept the property and it was not sold until 1863, when Grizel’s great-nephew James Alexander Hunt had succeeded to the Pittencrieff estate. From the advertisement of the sale in the Dunfermline Press it seems that Grizel’s house had been demolished and two houses built in its place.
Now we leave Grizel Alexander for a while to consider the other Queen Anne Street property owners whose names are marked on the 1823 plan.
Working from left to right we start with another remarkable woman – Mrs Campbell. This was Janet Moodie, widow of Dr William Campbell, who owned the lands of Headwell and much other farmland to the north of Dunfermline. As a laird’s wife Janet had been known by the honorary title of ‘Lady’ and after William’s death she was often still called ‘Lady Campbell’. Campbell Street was built on her land and a lane to the north of it is called ‘Lady Campbell’s Walk’. Janet died in 1848 but twelve years after her death she was remembered in an article in the Dunfermline Saturday Press as:
….a lady of masculine mould and habits who not only in her widowhood superintended personally all the out-door operations on her farm, but sold her grain in public market at the Cross and went to church on Sundays gorgeously attired in yellow silk velvet.
Her house in Queen Anne Street was rented by Henry Bardner, a local writer, for £27 a year and these excerpts from the description of the property in her will mention the mutual boundaries with those of James Hunt and Grizel Alexander.
A yard or garden with houses and others now built on it, on the north side of the back street now called Queen Anne Street. With the piece of ground on the south thereof, as far east as the west pillar of the gate entering to Mr Black’s garden, afterwards belonging to James Hunt.
And the Plot of ground adjoining to it, with a dwelling house, stable and others built on it and the yard now enclosed. Part of that (park) on the north side of Dunfermline once of John Black jnr writer Dunfermline and feued by him to William Bisset carter (probably one of his bankruptcy trustees).
The dyke built by James Hunt (now deceased) on the march between part of said feu sold him by the said William Bisset, and a piece of ground of John Wilson snr manufacturer Dunfermline on the East.
The garden dyke formerly of Laurence Gulland, now belonging to ‘me’ and ‘my half of the gable’ on the South
The road or entry (ie the lane on the south boundary of Gillespie church) leading to the barn formerly of said John Black then to said James Hunt on the North
North Chapel Street on the West.
With privilege of an entry to and from the said east march dyke by the road leading by the north end of said dwelling houses (ie the lane on the south boundary of Gillespie church) and thereby to enter to any part of the subject last above disponed.
Immediately east of Mrs Campbell lived James Husband, who had bought Grizel Alexander’s house from her. He was the son of the Rev James Husband, a minister at the Associate Session (Erskine Church) who died in 1821. James Husband was a grocer who also sold wines and spirits and he is mentioned in an article in an 1860 issue of the Dunfermline Press which looked back at how some parts of Dunfermline had been in the past. Speaking about Queen Anne Street it said:
On the site now occupied by the house tenanted by Mr Andrew Beveridge used to be a small building, one storied, approached by a flight of stone steps, with cellarage beneath, occupied by the late Mr James Husband, who afterwards bought the house of James Hunt adjoining and converted it into a shop, as now occupied by Mr Bruce, the merits of whose pickles and porter, hams and herrings, tea and tongues are altogether undeniable.
According to the 1855 Valuation Roll ‘The house tenanted by Mr Andrew Beveridge’ was immediately to the east of the house and shop of the late James Husband and belonged to ‘the representatives of the late Mrs James Hunt’ so the small one-storied building mentioned in the article must have been demolished when Grizel built her new house, having sold the old one to James Husband.
James Husband died in 1833 and in the will he had made in the previous year he included details of his property in Queen Anne Street, much of which is familiar from Mrs Campbell’s will:
The dwelling house in Queen Anne Street built by the now deceased James Hunt, with the piece of ground at the end thereof, to the centre of the west gable of the house lately erected by Mrs Grizel Alexander or Hunt, widow of the said James Hunt. And also the Garden ground immediately behind the said dwelling house and ground. Measuring fifty five feet in front or thereby, and bounded as follows:
By the house and garden which belonged to the late Mr William Campbell of Headwell on the West
By the road or entry leading from North Chapel Street to a stable, byre and other subjects on the North
By the property of the said Mrs Grizel Alexander or Hunt on the East
And by Queen Anne Street on the South
And declaring that the road or entry from North Chapel Street …. shall be a mutual road or entry to my (executors) and to the said Mrs Grizel Hunt.
James Husband also owned houses and a yard on the south side of East Port Street, on part of which the Commercial School was built, and a third of the lands of North Fod. His eldest son, Alexander Husband, was only 12 when his father died but when he was old enough he took over the running of the grocery business (which must have been kept going by his father’s executors) until his death in 1846, at the age of 27. He was helped by James Bruce, who had been apprenticed to his father and who carried on the business after Alexander’s death under the name of James Husband and Co. In 1850 Bruce transferred the business to his own name, commencing a long and successful career as a grocer at the Queen Anne Street shop and founding the firm of Bruce and Glen in 1870.
At the sale of Grizel Alexander’s property in 1863, the two houses that had been built on the site of her house were bought by Henry Bardner, a writer (solicitor) who lived in Mrs Campbell’s former property at the corner of Queen Anne Street and North Chapel Street. The sale advertisement in 1863 had described the eastern house as a single let, occupied by Janet Turnbull, the western house having three tenants, Mr Tod, writer, on the ground floor, Mr Sanders on the first floor and Miss Bell on the second floor. According to the 1865 Valuation Roll, the ground floor of the western house was currently unlet but James Sanders, clerk, and Helen Bell still lived on the first and second floors. The eastern house was occupied by Henry Bardner himself, although he still retained his house on the corner of North Chapel Street. The garden ground was leased to Mrs James Smealls and the stable to the draper (and future provost) Robert Robertson. Henry Bardner remained the owner of the property until his death in 1884.
The house and garden immediately to the east of Grizel Hunt’s, belonged to a Glasgow timber merchant and shipbuilder called David Swan. This property had originally belonged to the Dunfermline brothers John and William Swan who were linen manufacturers. They both died childless and their heir was a Glasgow shipbuilder named William Swan, from whom David Swan presumably inherited the house and garden. In 1865 the tenant was Mrs James Smealls, lessee of Henry Bardner’s garden.
The Manse and the School
Next to Mrs Smealls was the Erskine Church manse and next to that the Grammar School and schoolhouse, on the corner of Queen Anne Street and the street then called Schoolend Street.
Here is the list of the owners and tenants of the properties on the 1865 Valuation Roll, marked on the 1854 Ordnance Survey plan of Dunfermline, with the relevant numbers of the bus station stances.
A Owner and occupier Henry Bardner (previously Mrs Campbell) (Stances 11 – 14)
Tenant George Robertson, grocer
B Owner Husband’s trustees, tenant James Bruce, grocer (Stances 9 & 10)
C Owner Henry Bardner who occupied the ground floor. (Stances 7 & 8)
Tenants James Sanders clerk, Helen Bell
D Owner Henry Bardner, currently unlet (Stance 6)
E Owner David Swan, Glasgow, tenant Mrs James Smealls (Stance 5)
The Manse (Stances 3 & 4)
One building to note on the 1854 plan is the church that had recently been built in the gap site on the west side of Schoolend Street and which truncated the old right of way from North Chapel Street.
The Next Century
The rest of the story is best told through maps of the area made in the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. By 1897 (right) the Post Office had been built on the corner of Queen Anne Street and Bath Street. The old Burgh School was being used as a mission hall, a new High School having been recently opened on the south side of the town. Bath Street was the former Schoolend Street. It had been renamed when a swimming pool and public baths, paid for by Andrew Carnegie, were built on the site of the old Slaughter House in the 1880s.
By 1925 the manse and the old school had disappeared and a cinema (the Palace Kinema, opened in 1915) had been built behind the church. The Queen Anne Street houses, however, had retained their back gardens. Moving on to 1963, not much had changed.
The Kinema was closed as a cinema in 1967 and the building was used as a bingo hall for some years. Both it and the Congregational Church were demolished in 1987, to make way for a car park for a new Co-op store that was built at the west end of the future Bus Station site. This store was never opened. The photograph below shows the church, with the Kinema demolition beginning behind it. The disappearance of the cinema and the church reopened the centuries-old right of way, which once again runs past the south side of the Gillespie Church and connects North Chapel Street with Pilmuir Street.
The Story Up To Date
‘Lady Campbell’s and James Husband’s properties are now beneath the Bus Station waiting room building. There are still two houses on the site of Grizel Alexander’s house. The ‘First Class’ stationer’s shop occupies the site of David Swan’s property and the Manse and its garden is now a gap site. The Post Office has now closed and the building is empty. A doorway and two windows from the demolished church have been built into the wall on the northern boundary of the Bus Station.
Once This Was All Fields
The inspiration for this article was the discovery in a deed box by one of the Local Studies Library volunteers, of a nineteenth century document containing a description of Grizel Alexander’s property in Queen Anne Street. The research around that document and properties of her neighbours used a combination of squirreled-away personal research, online resources and information available in the Dunfermline Local Studies department, to tell the story of the development of one small area of the town from early medieval fields to a twenty-first century facility that the original owners of those fields could never even have imagined. What other stories lie buried beneath our streets and buildings?