Kinross

The Jail, Poorhouse and Witches Dub

... Continued from Transylvania - The Count may be closer than you think!

Poorhouse
Jail, Poorhouse and Fever Hospital

Wandering a bit further to the North we can find some darker features of Dunfermline's history. Just over the railway line from our area of interest is the town jail, the poorhouse (or workhouse) and a "Fever Hospital".  It's possibly not a complete coincidence that the jail and poorhouse are adjacent as although many people might find themselves in the poorhouse through simple misfortune, some would also have been found guilty of petty criminality.  What is probably more unsettling is the proximity of the "Dead House" to the Fever Hospital, suggesting that the latter was rather frequently just a stepping stone to the former.

In mentioning the railway, I'll meander again for a moment. The section of railway line shown is where Leys Park Road car park is now and the original Dunfermline railway station was just to West, in the Carnegie Retail Park where B&Q and Matalan are now. When a second station was built just off St Margaret's Drive, they were commonly referred to as the "Upper" (old) and "Lower" (new) stations and trains heading towards Inverkething junction would leave the Upper station and follow a sweeping loop round to the East of Dunfermline and back round to the Lower station.  My dad used to say that if you missed the train at the upper station it was possible to run down the hill and catch it at the Lower station.

Witchery
The Witch Dub and Knowle

Back to the maps.  The Witch Pool, apparently in the garden of Viewbank Cottage is not the "Witches Dub" where those accused of sorcery were trialled - that was much further up the modern day Townhill Road.  The Witch Dub would have been about 30 yards in diameter and 6 to 10 feet deep and was in use between 1580 and 1690.  In 1791 it was largely filled in, so there was likely nothing particularly visible of it when the map was drawn up.  The Witch Know (or Knowle) was towards the top of the Witch Loan (Townhill Road).  Suspected witches were cast into the Dub and if they drowned were deemed to have been "judged".  On the other hand, if they floated then there was "something no canny aboot them" and they were then taken to the Knowe and burned.  A case of heads I win, tails you lose.

Staying with the 6 inch maps for now, simply because of the finer detail level, I moved on the 2nd Edition, published in 1897.  The sheet numbering got all funky with this set and this particular sheet is XXXIX.NW - I couldn't fathom the numbering sequence and had to consult a graphical index to find this one.  I've included an excerpt of a much larger area for this, simply so I could reference more things from one image, and you all know what I'm looking for now.

2nd Edition, Sheet XXXIX.NW
OS 6 inch, 2nd Edition, Sheet XXXIX.NW (NLS)

The Iron Works has gone, as we'd expect, and the area where the smithy was described has become Transy Cottages; given that there's a Transy Cottage (singular) nearby, I'll guess that the postman might have gotten confused from time to time. Right down at the bottom, Transylvania has become Transylaw. Is it coincidence that "Dracula" was published in the same year?  Was our night flying friend attempting to avoid being exposed?  He even seems to be able to exert influence over modern technology including the giant that is Google: By some means, the evidence of the access road has been censored on Street View, as can be seen in the snapshot below.

Street View
Google Street View - Transy Law

The jail is no longer indicated, nor is the "Fever Hospital", although the buildings are still shown so presumably neither was still serving the original purpose.  There's no "Dead House" but a large cemetery has been created.  On the previous maps, it had been difficult to locate cemetaries around the town (I found one small "New Burial Ground" at one point), but I guess the number of the Counts victims was mounting up. 

The Public Park is now the Sinclair Gardens Park although it is bisected by St Margaret's Drive today.  The rightmost section of the straight, tree lined avenue is still visible, while the large building top left of the park is roughly where the Carnegie Hall is now.

Departing from the maps for a while, I eventually unearthed the source of the name change for Transylvania; surprisingly I found it in Fife Council's "Dunfermline Conservation Area Appraisal and Conservation Area Management Plan" of 2014 which comments on the history of the area: "A sasine of 1812 states that the area was to be known as Transy from that date" which means that all the maps we've looked at that showed "Transylvania" were technically incorrect as the name had been legally changed well before the maps were prepared. 

Garvock House
Garvock House Hotel

This document throws up another couple of interesting snippets.  "There are 10 individual Tree Preservation Orders within the conservation area, a variety of mature oak, beech, ash, lime, birch, cedar of Lebanon, yew, cypress and holly, all in relation to the grounds of Transylaw House and the former approach to Garvock (Transy) House."  So the Count has managed to persuade the council to decree that no-one should be able to obtain stake making materials near his house.

The building that was originally shown as "Transylvania" is now Garvock House Hotel.  The Conservation Area Management Plan has this say about it: "The Category B listed Garvock House Hotel appears on 1856 Ordnance Survey map as ‘Transylvania’ with a pair of small wings ..."  Wings? OK not those kind of wings, but it's amusing when you're exploring with my mindset.

St Leonards Factory

St Leonard's Works
St Leonard's Works

A number of the maps I'd looked at showed a "St Leonard's Factory" (or "St Leonard's Works", as in the map excerpt here from the 3rd Edition map) beside St Leonard's Street in the location that is now the ASDA Superstore (or "wee ASDA" as my wife and I call it, to differentiate from the larger one in the Halbeath Retail Park).  It was also mentioned in a number of contemporary records I found but they didn't actually say what the factory produced. It appears to comprise a vast footprint, comparable to the old Iron Works, so had to be very significant in terms of industry and employment.  The Annals of Dunfermline give a clue, if not a direct statement, in recording that when Lajos Kossuth, former Regent-President of Hungary, visited Dunfermline by invitiation, his wife was given a gift by the workers: "After the oration, a set of damask table linen was presented to Madame Kossuth by the workers of St. Leonard’s Factory, through Mr. Dobbie, the manager."  So, we're back to the linen industry, bleachfileds, etc.  It's all tying up nicely.

Talking of going back, let's return to the railway where this journey started. The annals give another little insight on that railway line.  Apart from the original purpose of moving coal to the lime kilns it was obviously used as a passenger line too, with a station at Nethertown Broad Street and a great technological advancement is recorded thus "In February, 1852, a locomotive engine was applied for the first time to the passenger train running between the Nethertown and Charlestown, instead of the horse formerly used.  The distance from the Nethertown to Charlestown, 3¼ miles, is now done in about 10 minutes."

One advancement that may not have delighted the resident of Garvock House (or Transylaw or Transylvania) was the new Powder Magazine on nearby Garvock Hill: "The Powder Magazine on Garvock Hill, built at the expense of the Burgh, was finished in June, this year (1852), and all those who dealt in powder were ordered to store it in the new Magazine, they being allowed to retain a few pounds’ weight on their premises for sale."

The Modern Era

I've already mentioned the 3rd Edition map, so for comparison I've extracted below much the same area as I showed from the 2nd Edition.  This map is dated 1913 so we're getting to the point where many features will be recognisable to anyone familiar with Dunfermline today or comparing against a modern map of the area.  We're getting to the end of this story now.

OS 3rd Edition
OS 6 inch 3rd Edition (NLS)

The Curling Pond has gone and the Dunfermline Athletic football ground has appeared (the "Dunfermline Association Foot-Ball Club" was formed in 1874), although it seems that a terracing was still to come (later maps show contouring that is absent here).  Many streets are taking a more recognisable form and more housing is apparent, with Transy Place now on the map and, although not labelled, the characteristic circular shape of Transy Grove is shown, just below Appin Crescent.

The cemetary has been extended (those vampires are insatiable) and the Poorhouse has expanded considerably.  When originally constructed in 1843 this served only the Dunfermline parish but expanded to give poor relief to other parishes and, as the Combination Poorhouse, by 1909 covered eleven parishes in the area, including Culross, Saline, Ballingry and Aberdour. Men and women would have been accommodated in separate wings of the building and the workrooms would likely have been bakehouses for the men and a laundry for the women.

Dunfermline Poorhouse
The Poorhouse (© Copyright Paul McIlroy - CC By-SA 2.0)

census from 1881 shows 140 inmates of the Poorhouse, that is, not including the 11 resident staff and their families. There is a brief history on the workhouses.org website, but strangely it seems to be unsure of the purpose of the building identified on 1st Edition map as "Fever Hospital" and tentatively, but correctly, suggest it may have been "used as an isolation hospital".

In due course this would become the Dunfermline Combination Home and Hospital and then the Northern Hospital.  Today it is the "Leys Park Care Centre".

Journey's end

And that is really the end of this little rummage through Dunfermline's history, or at least a part of it's history - and it's taken me a lot longer to write up than it took to do! 

If you feel inclined to browse some of the later maps or other scales then this NLS Index is a good place to start: Find by place. I did look through these, but after the 1913 map the changes are far less radical and while they still have interesting elements there's probably not much I could write about, and by this point I'd lost interest in chasing vampires anyway.

Thanks for staying with me on the trip!