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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 16:59 GMT
Oldest lino plant to be flattened
Kevin Keane
Fife reporter
BBC Scotland news website

Redundant Nairns building
The listed building has been empty since production moved in 1980
Scottish Enterprise has confirmed it wants to demolish the shell of the world's oldest linoleum factory.

The massive Nairns building in Kirkcaldy has been standing empty since it closed in 1980 and efforts to find a way of developing it have failed.

The agency, which bought the grade A listed building in 2000, has said all areas have been investigated and its only option is to apply for demolition.

Local people have said the factory has become an eyesore and should go.

It was once one of six factories in Kirkcaldy which made linoleum using linseed oil.

Forbo-Nairn still makes the product and claims to be the largest producer in the world, but the five other firms have disappeared from the landscape.

Production at the company moved to a new facility almost 30 years ago leaving the original site empty and redundant.

'Queer smell'

Since then, the former building, with its notably long windows, has been deteriorating.

The company's archivist, David Muncey, told the BBC Scotland news website: "It's always sad to see that sort of deterioration in a building, particularly as it is the oldest bit of linoleum architecture left in the world."

The factory was built in the 1880s and took over from floor cloth production which had been going on in Kirkcaldy since 1847.

Nairns in its hey-day
The grade A listed building was once surrounded by industry

The process of making the product created a strong "queer-like smell" which the area became famous for.

A poem by Mary Campbell Smith called The Boy In The Train made reference to the odour.

Former employee Harry Smith said: "It was very, very strong. In fact you knew anybody who worked in Nairns, or a linoleum factory at all, because of the smell because it clung to your clothes.

"You smelled it passing through on the train."

Scottish Enterprise now has to apply for a demolition order from Fife Council.

Historic Scotland has not indicated whether it would object but said: "It is a crucial part of Scotland's industrial heritage and is listed as category A in recognition of its national importance."

Local councillor David Torrance said: "It's a shame that the building's the oldest linoleum factory in the world and the only one left in Kirkcaldy but because of its condition and the elements taking its toll over the last 25 years, there's nothing more we can do with it."

How workers used to make linoleum in Kirkcaldy

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