Men have gone to sea since time immemorial to harvest the ‘silver darlings’ and other types of fish for our tables.
The time spent ashore was not wasted, in that the fishermen continued to pursue their interest in fishing and boats by making and sailing models of their working craft. It must be remembered this was a time when times were hard and there was not much money to spare. The hobby began of making boat hulls from blocks of wood, hewn by hand and thereafter refined into sleek hulled vessels. Lead for ballast was scavenged from the beach and when the boats were complete the men and boys came together to sail them in rivers and on the foreshore.
In the Fife area the boat design was based mainly on the Fifie (examples of which can be seen in parts of the Museum).
Model Sailing Club at Cellardyke in the 1930s
In 1932 an open air swimming pool was built at the east end of Cellardyke which gave the hobby of boat building and sailing a great boost. A club was formed, known as ‘The East Fife Model Sailing Club’ which attracted many local members. At one time there were more than 116 members.
After much building and refining of hull shape and sail rig the first big race was held on the 2nd January, 1933 when two cups were sailed for. The Wilson Cup and the Sheriff Cup. Later a further cup, the Mitchell Cup was also donated, showing the interest and support shown by local business persons.
Shortly thereafter a pool was also built in St Monans, three miles west of Anstruther which gave rise to rivalry and competition between the two towns.
These clubs eventually joined the Scottish Federation of Model Boat Clubs which gave scope for races with clubs in Dundee and Perth. The local East Neuk clubs gave a good account of themselves with the Fifies. However, as usual, there were developments in hull and sail design. The Dundee and Perth clubs went in for the larger 6 metre yachts which left the Fifie models trailing.
After the war the men and boys in Cellardyke and St Monans began building and sailing the larger 6 metre yachts also and soon began giving a good account of themselves in the inter club races.
It is interesting to note that during the war years the model boat club stored their models within a wooden clubhouse at Cellardyke with no damage coming to them from fire, flood or vandals.
After the war there was a decline in the interest for this type of hobby with other more interesting toys and hobbies to attract men and boys. Sadly the club was disbanded in 1959 with the cups being handed over to the local swimming club. Two of the cups are retained within Cellardyke Town Hall with the third back in the hands of the family who originally donated it.