A Day out at the RICOH Women’s British Golf Open and the loss of HMS Success

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As a Fife Ambassador, I was fortunate to be invited to a hospitality day at the golf courtesy of Fife Golf Partnership and the Fife Tourism Partnership. Kingsbarns is a wonderful golf course with breathtaking coastal views of St Andrews bay and Kingsbarns beach.

I walked down to the 1st hole and watched golfers from Thailand, Wales, Spain, USA, Korea, Germany, Iceland, Germany and China to name but a few tee off. I witnessed some great golf and found a friendly atmosphere. There were some dramatic skies with the building up of rain clouds but as it is Scotland the spectators and golfers alike were prepared.

I went up to the Champion’s Club at the hospitality area and had breakfast and met up with some fellow Fife Ambassadors and members of Fife Tourism Partnership, Tourism St Andrews and BID St Andrews. After a hearty breakfast, I went down to see Scotland’s Sally Watson tee off and follow her for a few holes.

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A significant moment for me was looking out from Kingsbarns beach I saw the St Andrews fishing boat “Brothers In Arms” shooting creels off Kingsbarns harbour. My 12-year old son, Harris was out on the boat learning to be a commercial lobster/crab fisherman.

Time for lunch, and a chance to chat and a wonderful lunch washed down with a few Darnley’s gin and tonics. Sadly, the golf succumbed to heavy rain showers so I watched the play from the shelter of the pavilion balcony.

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Kingsbarns beach. HMS Success wrecked  just to the right of the right hand rocks in the picture

 

Kingsbarns golf course is a wonderful course. Looking east along the beach from the harbour at the second tee it was hard to imagine the events that took place here on the early hours of the 27th December 1914 when a strong north-easterly gale was blowing in St Andrews bay.

The 210-foot long Royal Navy “B” Class torpedo boat destroyer HMS Success on her way back to Port Edgar in the Firth of Forth from a patrol of Heligoland (German coast). Her route home took her in the direction of Aberdeen, down past the Bell Rock Lighthouse round Fife Ness and then up the Forth. It was a dark night in the strong gale and heavy sleet showers. In order to avoid the full force of the gale HMS Success kept close to the land. As it was wartime, shore lights and beacons were extinguished and it was impossible to judge the exact proximity of the land. The water is deep at Kingsbarns close up to the rocks and nothing in the vessel’s course suggested that danger was so near at hand. At 04:00 in the morning HMS Success ran aground with a crash on the Cambo Briggs rocks just 300M from the shore at Kingsbarns beach.

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HMS Success

 

The firing of the vessel’s guns first boomed out he news of the disaster to the shore and a wireless message for help was sent to other known naval vessels in the area. Tow torpedo boat destroyers and two minesweepers appeared on the scene in response to the call for help. The Coastguards at Fife Ness were alerted and the Crail and St Andrews Lifeboats called out. HMS Success lay with her bows completely underwater with the crew clinging to the chains and standards on the stern. Attempts to use the rocket apparatus failed due to the weather so the lifeboats bravely rowed their way through the rough seas and after many dangerous trips managed to get all the 67 crew safely to the shore.

After a brief rest, the crew returned to the shore to secure their ship. The ship was badly holed and water had flooded the engine room. By the next day the sea had worked the bows of the ship round and she lay with her stern pointing towards the shore. Salvage work commenced and her two torpedoes were laid on the shore and steamers were alongside to receive her guns and other moveable gear. It was found that it would not be possible to refloat her, so she was stripped of fittings and from the beach, traction engines removed most of the hull. What could be used again was taken back to the naval dockyards at Rosyth. At certain low tides and when the sands have shifted, remains of the lower hull of the ship can be seen.

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Remains of  HMS Success

I highly recommend a visit to Kingbarns Golf Course, Kingsbarns beach and of course the British Women’s Open.

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Dysart Harbour

Dysart Harbour WM

The other day I visited Dysart harbour. Having not been there for many years it was great to see a vibrant busy harbour. The majority of motor boats and yachts all out and on the piers getting their overhauls and maintenance done.

The earliest records date the town of Dysart to the 13th century, but the local legend of St Serf dates the area to 500 AD. The harbour dates to 1450 with trade with the Low Countries. Exports of local salt and coal and in the 16th and 17th centuries trade expanded to the Baltic Countries. Dysart earned the nicknames of “Salt Burgh” and from the Dutch influence in Dysart’s buildings inspired by the shipowners who went there “Little Holland”. The early 19th century saw extensive improvements to the harbour . Sadly the demise of the uneconomic Lady Blanche Pit in 1929 saw the end of the coal trade from the harbour.

Originally known as the Shore House where cargo from visiting ships was stored during the building, which dates to the 17th century and in 1840 became the three-storey Harbourmaster’s House. Today, the house is home to the headquarters of the Fife Countryside and Coast Trust. It also has a great bistro with a good selection of wholesome food and hot and cold beverages. It is well worth a visit.

Last year Dysart Harbour played host as a film set to the very popular TV series Outlander. The Harbourmaster’s House and the west part of the harbour were turned into the French port of Le Havre. You will have to wait until the second series screened next year to see the results.

The Kingdom of Fife has a rich and varied maritime heritage and you don’t need to travel far in Fife to find it. Get out in your car, on your bike or on foot and explore!