Today is an exciting day for me.  In this era of sat nav and the internet, it is now so easy to find the street where you once lived up until the age of four and maybe, with any luck, find the place where you were actually born.

So we are off to Dunfermline – about an hour’s drive from Perth where we are staying.  We are planning first of all to find Gorrie Street, although I have doubts that the house is still there.  My father was doing his war service working at Rosyth Dockyard as a coppersmith during WW2 and he and my mother had rented out their house in Gillingham (Dad was normally working at Chatham Dockyard in those days) and lived in a rented Dockyard house in Gorrie Street, Dunfermline – no.19 to be precise.  I had no real recollection of the house myself but had a small black and white photograph, showing a gathering of mums and children standing outside their houses.  I am the child (about two and a half I should imagine) being held by a seated older girl.  My mother is the second lady from the left.

Dunfermline photo

Finding Gorrie Street with the sat nav was, of course, easy.  We realised, with amazement, that the houses had not been pulled down after all and were probably just as they were in 1945.  Most had had replacement windows of course and some were in serious need of doing up but – there was no.19 looking freshly painted and well kept!


We tried to imagine whereabouts the 1940s photo had been taken and drove up and down the street trying to work it out, using what little information regarding windows and drainpipes showing in the photo.

As we drove back up the street, there was a lady mowing the front lawn in the house next door and, on impulse, Peter stopped Bessie and explained our story to the lady.  She had lived there for thirty odd years and was interested in what we had to say.  It turned out that her son lived in no.19!  She took us around the back and told us that a hedge had existed, dividing the back gardens from the houses behind.  This must have been where the photo had been taken!  We knew that Gorrie Street had been built in 1940 (to quite a Modernist design) and she confirmed that the Dockyard had owned all the houses at the time, presumably to house all the workers who had come up from the south to work at Rosyth.  The Dockyard then sold them off after the war and eventually they were bought privately.  We bade goodbye to Janice, for such was this kind lady’s name, and her grandson, Alan, and I posed for the inevitable photo outside my old home.

DSC_6180Our next mission was to find 20 Buchanan Street, Dunfermline which had been a private nursing home called “Garthdee” and had been the place where my Mother had gone to give birth.  The National Health service was still a pipe dream at this time and, unless you had your baby at home, there wasn’t a lot of choice.  Again, this was relatively easy and the house proved to be a handsome 19th century stone semi-detached property, now privately owned.  And the name “Garthdee” was etched into the glass above the door.



Having been so successful in our house hunting mission, the next step was to go to the Carnegie Library in Dunfermline to do some research.  Andrew Carnegie, of course, was the famous local boy made good, coming from an extremely humble background in the mid 19th century and going to America to make his fortune.  He never forgot his roots, however, and was a great benefactor to Dunfermline.  The park, known to everyone as The Glen – something I did remember – has a statue of the great man and his initials in gold on the railings.  Everywhere you look there are buildings and institutions honouring his name.





The library was a 19th century building near the Abbey and there we found a most helpful lady in the Local History department, who found lots of books for us to look at.  There was nothing much about Gorrie and Buchanan streets that we didn’t already know but there was lots on the dockyard at Rosyth.  My cousin had emailed a photo of his parents’ wedding and we were able to make a good stab at the location.  The history of the area was fascinating and something I would like to delve into when I have the time.  We also found the announcement of my birth in the newspaper which was on microfilm and had that printed out for me.  Brilliant.


Some cake and coffee in a nearby café, after all this excitement, made the day complete and, after a brief look around the town, we took a drive over the Forth Road Bridge to the Edinburgh side and then drove back again!

I attempted some photos of the famous Forth Rail Bridge which lies alongside but these were only partially successful.  Iconic bridges both of them and we will be able to have a better look tomorrow when we cross the road bridge on our way to Northumberland.



The Dockyard is no longer operational (like Chatham) but I took some photos across the Forth towards it.



It has been an emotional day for me, one way and another, but I am really glad that we took the trouble to flesh out a significant time in my life at last.

The Fife countryside around is gently rolling green hills – quite different from the Scotland we have been experiencing these past seven weeks or so, but still equally beautiful.