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Fifty Years Ago Today …..

…. five boys from the town nearest to where I live went off to watch a football match.

And never came back.

They were caught up in the crush on Stairway 13 at Ibrox Park – as it was then known – in which 66 people died.

No one in Markinch knew their fate until the last buses and trains through the town that night had come – and gone. And then they feared the worst.

The incident is still a sore memory in Markinch, it is almost as resonant, perhaps even equal to, Remembrance Day in importance.

The loss struck the town hard. Many of the present inhabitants were at school at the same time, if not the same year group, as the five, whom they remember vividly.

In the years after, one of the mothers would run down the street from her work every lunch time to be beside her boy.

The last big anniversary – the fortieth – saw a refurbishment of the town’s memorial, which till then had been a plaque lying on the grass overlooked by both the streets in which the boys had lived. An appeal to raise funds for refurbishment was inundated within days with contributions coming in from all over the world. So much so that the memorial was added to and made into a pair of stones one atop the other.

I posted a photograph of the upgraded memorial here.

There was a programme about the disaster on BBC Scotland on Monday 28th December, available on iPlayer for 11 months.

The disaster was also the subject of a piece in the Guardian earlier in December, mentioning previous crushes on the same stairway (ten years earlier one of these had resulted in two deaths) which ought to have brought about remedial action.

Sadly, it took the 66 deaths fifty years ago for Rangers FC to start upgrading the stadium.

As well as the memorial stone in Markinch there is a bench in the grounds of the local Kirk, St Drostan’s. Since St Drostan’s is on a hill the bench overlooks the town.

Ibrox Disaster Memorial Bench, Markinch

Names of the five boys:-

Nameplate, Ibrox Disaster Memorial Bench, Markinch

Cockenzie House

Cockenzie House is a mansion House in the town of Cockenzie and Port Seton, East Lothian, which we visited in September last year as they were hosting a small antique Fair in Cockenzie House.

Cockenzie House

In its grounds there is an unusual memorial – to Cockenzie Power Station – which stood in the town and whose twin towers could be seen for miles around and were even prominent from Fife across the Firth of Forth. It was built in 1968 and demolished in 2015.

Cockenzie Power Station Memorial:-

Cockenzie Power Station Memorial

Strathmiglo War Memorial

Strathmiglo’s War Memorial is in the churchyard and takes the form of a wooden cross. Unusually, the names of the dead are inscribed on copper strips attached to the cross. There are also three VC symbols attached.

Strathmiglo War Memorial

The plaque below the cross is inscribed, “Nihil melius patria quam pro mori” (there is nothing better to die for rather then the country) and, “In honoured memory of fallen heroes.”

War Memorial Dedication, Strathmiglo

In the graveyard I also found two war dedications.

David John Campbell Ireland, 2nd Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. Killed in action on the Somme in France, 31/10/1916, aged 36 years:-

War Inscription, Strathmiglo Graveyard

William Syme, Royal Scots, who died of wounds in France, 10/4/1917, aged 20 years:-

War Inscription, Strathmiglo Graveyard

Strathmiglo

Strathmiglo is a village in Fife, in which comedian Ronnie Corbett once had a home. We pass it on a regular basis. The road on which we do that, though, bypasses the main street but the way we come in passes a road named Cash Fues as the land there once belonged to the ancestors of country singer Johnny Cash.

One day last year we took the time to stop for a look round the village itself.

This is the tolbooth, built in 1734:-

Strathmiglo Tolbooth, Fife, Scotland

View towards East Lomond – the second highest hill in Fife. (The highest is the West Lomond.)

View of Street, East Lomond

There is a wonderful monkey puzzle tree (araucaria) just off the main street – with the kirk beyond:-

Monkey puzzle and Strathmiglo  Kirk

By the entrance to the kirk is a Pictish stone:-

Pictish Stone, Strathmiglo

A plaque on the wall beside it has a description:-

Strathmiglo, Pictish Stone Plaque

War Graves and War Death Commemorations, Upper Largo, Fife

The kirkyard in Upper Largo (Largo and Newburn Parish Church, see previous post,) has two War Graves and two war commemorations.

To left. In memory of John Patrick Oliphant Russell, Captain, Royal Artillery, died of wounds in Italy, 7/9/1944. Buried at Gradara, Italy:-

War Death Commemoration Upper Largo Kirkyard 1>

Ralph Frederick Baxter, 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Sussex Regiment, killed in action, France, 25/9/1915, aged 18 and John Edward Baxter, 2nd Lieutenant, Scots Guards, killed in action in Italy, 16/10/1944, aged 19:-

War Deaths Commemoration Upper Largo Kirkyard

Serjeant T Simpson, Pioneer Coprs, formerly Royal Artillery, 10/8/1946, aged 46:-

War Grave, Upper Largo Kirkyard

Lower Inscription. In loving memory of Thomas Simpson, died 10th August, 1946:-

Lower Inscription War Grave Upper Largo Kirkyard

Lieutenant W A Freeborn, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS Victory, 31/7/1944:-

Upper Largo Kirkyard War Grave

We took a diffeent way home from normal and had this unusual view of East and West Lomond, Fife’s highest hills from the Star (Star of Markinch) road:-

Two Lomonds in Fife

Upper Largo, Fife

We’ve passed through Upper Largo in Fife countless times over the years on our way to and from St Andrews but had never stopped to have a look at the church or churchyard until June last year.

The church’s full name is Largo and Newburn Parish Church. Its oldest part has been there since 1623.

Largo and Newburn Parish Church

Largo and Newburn Parish  Kirk 1

Upper Largo Kirk, Fife

Spire and Part of Upper Largo Kirk

An ancient Pictish stone in the church’s grounds is kept behind bars (presumably for protection). The cross inscribed on it may have been added after Pictish times.

Old Stone, Upper Largo Kirk 2

Old Stone, Upper Largo Kirk

The design on the reverse is definitely Pictish:-

Pictish designs

Upper Largo is, as its name suggests, at a higher elevation than Lower Largo (which is right by the side of Firth of Forth, see posts passim.) From the church there are great views over the village and of the Firth:-

sea from Upper Largo church,

aUpper Largo and sea from Kirkyard

Piping at Markinch Highland Games

(Click on each photo to play video.)

At last year’s Markinch Highland Games it seemed there were pipe bands everywhere.

Either practicing:-

Pipe Band Practice, Markinch Highland Games

More Pipe Band Practice, Markinch Highland Games

Markinch Highland Games, PIpe Band Practicing3

PIpe Band Practicing, Markinch Highland Games

Or getting ready to compete:-

Pipe Band Competition, Markinch Highland Gamess

Everything is judged, from the clothing to the marching up, the start, the marching, the piping, the drumming. Isuppos even the drummers’ stick twirling.

Approaching Start Point:-

Markinch Highland Games, Pipe Band Competition Approaching Start Point

Here we go:-

Pipe Band Competition Start, Markinch Highland Games

Markinch Highland Games 2019

Our nearest town, Markinch, is on the Highland Games circuit.

Like many other things this year’s event sadly had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Last year, however, we made our first visit to Markinch Games as part of our contribution to the community. The Community Council provided filled rolls and coffee, tea etc at the Pavilion in John Dixon Park and we were helping there. We both managed to get around for a wander though.

(It wasn’t our first Highland Games. Many years ago we had attended one in Ceres.)

It’s not just athletics, there’s a Pipe Band competition – you can’t get away from the sound of the pipes – and a fun fair.

Video of fun fair:-

Fairground, Markinch Highland Games 2019

Athletics field:-

Markinch Highland Games Athletics Field 2019

Throwing the weight over a bar:-

Weight tossing

Not always successfully:-

Weight tossing

There was caber tossing too (you could see the cabers on the ground) but it wasn’t on at the time either of us had the stroll.

The athletics is taken very seriously. They had testers for illegal use of performance enhancing drugs in a separate room at the Pavilion.

This is a video of the finish of the 1600m handicap race:-

Finish, 1600 m Handicap, Markinch Highland Games 2019

Markinch Ibrox Disaster Memorial

This memorial to the five boys from Markinch who died in the Ibrox Disaster on 2/1/1971 lies directly opposite the entrance to Balbirnie Park.

Markinch Ibrox Disaster Memorial

Star War Memorial

Star, or Star of Markinch, is a village in Fife, lying between Markinch and Kennoway, and a few miles from Son of the Rock Acres.

Its War Memorial is a plaque on the wall of the Primary School.

Star War Memorial

Surrounded by Celtic knot work the inscription is “1914” (as a monogram) “Pro Patria” plus a monogrammed “1918” then, “To the glory of god and in memory of the men of Star who fell in the Great War, followed by their names and, “They overcame and they loved not their lives unto the death.

War Memorial, Star

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