— #16 Newhaven Closes
Westmost Close used to be a narrow lane with fishermen’s cottages on one side and two tenement blocks on the other. In about 1932, the firm of Thomas H Scales & Sons, a trawler company, built a three storey office block and stores next to St Andrew’s Church and at the northern end of Westmost Close to the detriment of those living in the tenement next to it.
Quoting from Jim Park’s memoir of his childhood in “Newhaven on Forth, My story of the living village”, “It was a great place until a man called Thomas Scales had a brick marine store built to almost the height of our tenement, blocking the view we enjoyed [of the harbour], as well as the light, and making it so that we had to burn the solitary gas light all the time someone was at home.”
Jim Park’s opinion that it was “a great place” was based on the fact the living conditions of his family home was the norm for him and for many others although today modern families would balk at the total lack of amenities.
Young Jim and his family of seven brothers and sisters and his mother and father lived in a single end (one room) on the ground floor of 2 Westmost Close. Even an imaginative estate agent would be hard pressed to call it basic —a single window for fresh air and light, a sink without running water, an open range for cooking and for heat and a solitary gas wall light for artificial illumination. There was an outside water tap that was shared with the family across the way, as was the outside toilet. This toilet was one of a row used by the whole stair. The single room that they lived in had three beds, one for the parents, one for the three sisters and one for the five boys. But for all that, it was a warm. safe and happy home that was immaculately clean with everyone well fed and with fish frequently on the menu.