February 22nd, 2021 | Cults Lime and Brick Works
Speaker: Brian Murray
Cupar Heritage is pleased to be continuing its activities, albeit largely limited to on-line events at present. On 22 February, we hosted the second of our monthly talks on ZOOM. The speaker was one of our own Trustees, Brian Murray, who gave a splendid talk on the “Cults Lime and Brick Works”. There was a good on-line attendance of 27.
Brian explained that Cults Lime was a large mining operation along the top of Cults Hill, south of Cupar. Lime production stretched back to Medieval times, with the lime being used for agricultural and building purposes, e.g. in St Andrews. New lime kilns led to rapid expansion in Victorian times and in 1876, a branch railway was built up the hill from Springfield station, to serve the Works.
In 1960, the Cochrane family set up Cults Brick Ltd on the site, producing millions of bricks for the Scottish market. At its peak, the company employed around 90 people, making it a significant employer in the Cupar area. However, major changes in the economy reduced the demand for lime and bricks and the whole operation was closed in 2004.
There was a lively discussion after the talk. John McManus drew on his extensive knowledge of the local limestone geology. John Gilbert mentioned small local canals built in in the area to move the substantial tonnages of lime and coal, before the railway. There is still much of this history to see at Cults Hill, but the area is now overgrown and old mines make it dangerous to explore.