Cellardyke Phone Boxes

Red Telephone Boxes – a link

See the Message in a Bottle video and update here

Saving of the Phone Boxes and acquisition

In 2017 Sydney Clare Checkland discovered that the out of commission phone boxes in Cellardyke were likely to be removed. With knowledge of other community run phone boxes she made an approach to the Cellardyke Residents Association. The hope was that the organisation could save and preserve the phone boxes to become assets for the community. The CRA agreed she could invesigate the potential purchase on their behalf. Following some further research she discovered that BT would only transfer boxes to charitable organisations.

Harbour Telephone Box

The CRA set up a working group whose task was to develop the idea of a Trust to run the Sea Queen Festival and other projects. This was also seen as the ideal body to take on ownership of the boxes and to maintain and develop projects round them. Subsequently a constitution was developed and Trust status applied for with OSCR the Scottish Charity Regulator. Even though this was in progress and there was regular communication with BT regarding the setting up of the Cellardyke Trust, BT scheduled the removal and placed notices on the boxes.

The East Neuk Centre Trust kindly stepped in as the interim charitable body providing the required leagal entity to save the condemned boxes. Once Charitable status was granted by OSCR the ownership of the John Street and Harbour phone boxes transferred over to The Cellardyke Trust in March 2020.

What is the plan and the future for the boxes?

The John Street phone box is already much loved in the community and by visitors alike. Gill Fraser has been tireless in her dedication and turned it into a childrens library and art space. In addition to the books there are some toys, an occasional school uniform swap, seedlings and other exciting discoveries . It would have been a tragedy for this to have been removed. Ongoing ownership of the boxes by the Trust ensures their long term future.

The Harbour phone box- The plan right from Sydney Clare’s first approach three years ago was to develop a “Message in a Bottle” idea. This pilot project would help to put Cellardyke Harbour on the map again. The idea is to send bottle shaped wooden messages out to the world and tracing where they reappear. (See below the community involvement in this project 2019/2020)

We hope this will also inspire future projects to come from the community.

The intention is also restore the box back to it’s former glory, replacing damaged perspex etc

Harbour Telephone Box

In lockdown, a few residents round the Cellardyke Harbour area decided to improve the area. They planted flowers in the empty beds and freshened up the paintwork of the phone box. A great improvement to the area. During that time the phone box began to be used for a book swap too. As we move forward we will need to look at how to work the long running Message in a Bottle project, upgrading the box, future projects and the needs of the book swappers.

Message in A Bottle – Who has already been involved?

Leading up to the 2019 Sea Queen Festival we felt it important to remember those still living and working on the sea. We are particularly proud of our schools and East Neuk communities who actively contributed to make this project happen.

All eight primary schools that send their pupils to The Waid took part. They each decorated a sail for a model boat to carry a message in a bottle from the pupils. The pupils composed the messages to be sent out. Catriona Macpherson made the sails and Jake Brown wrote the name of each school on them. The boats, sails and messages were on exhibition at Pittenweem harbour during opening night of Pitenweem Festival.

The themes for their sails were:-

  • The Royal Navy – Crail Primary School – as HMS Jackdaw had been a Navy base at Crail.
  • The Lifeboat service – Anstruther Primary School – Anstruther home of our lifeboat Service
  • The Fishing fleet – Pittenweem Primary School – PIttenweem home of the largest part of the East Neuk Fleet.
  • The Boatbuilders – St Monans Primary School – St Monans home of the last of the large commercial boat builders in the East Neuk
  • Yachting – Elie Primary School – Elie home to many yachts
  • Other Water Sports – Kirkton of Largo – Watersports enjoyed by all even if you do not live on tha coast
  • Merchant Navy – Colinsburgh – Merchant Sailors have belonged to all our communities
  • Oil / gas Workers – Lundin Mill – Our of shore workers live throughout the East Neuk.

Community Organisations built our boats.

Each Community constructed simple boats designed by Pittenweem artist David Behrens to represent their town. The design of the 3ft boats stipulated reclaimed pallet wood and slate.

Time-served boatbuilder, Mike Griffin constructed Crail’s boat. Anstruther – Sean Graham, Scottish Fisheries Museum Trainee. Pittenweem – David Thomson of the West Braes Project. St Monans – Billy Morris and the the St Monans Sea Queen Committee, Elie – members of the Elie Fayre Day Committee. The the final three builds were by members of the East Neuk Men’s Shed.

Launching the boats on 4th August 2019

Seven modern fishing boats and the RNLI rib each took a model boat to sea. This fleet left Anstruther harbour after the Sea Queen’s crowning. Half a mile off Cellardyke Harbour they met the 5 historic boats and 5 skiffs for the wreath laying ceremony. In line they sailed round a buoy off the Cellardyke Pool. About 1000 people watched as the fishing boats placed the model boats and messages in the water.

Messages in the Bottles

Each of the Primary schools wrote a message from the pupils to place in the reclaimed bottles which were then seal with a corks and wax. The model boats had a small hold area carved out of the deck to lay the bottles in. The hold was deep enough to protect the bottle in the boat but should the boat sink the bottle would float away and continue its journey.

All in all over 100 people of all ages contributed by, making, painting, writing and launching our messages in bottles. Watched by over 1000 people. By August 2020 no messages have been found. Several of the boats haev been recovered and recyled.

2020 Sea Queen – Message in a Bottle

The postponement of the 2020 Sea Queen Festival due to the Covid 19 pandemic was a disappointment for our community.

In response to this our Sea Queens, Katie Morris (2018) Ellie Deas (2019) and Jessie Barnett( 2020 elect) decided to send a message from our community to the world.

David Simpson of the East Neuk Men’s Shed turned a wooden bottle from recycled pallets for this purpose.

On the day of our cancelled festivial, after socially a distanced walk through the town, the wreath, a bunch of flowers and the bottle were handed to the Fruitful’s skipper. Once out of the harbour, along with our wreath and flowers, the bottle containing their message was placed in the sea.

Lto R Jennie Brown, Jessie Barnett, Ellie Deas, Katie Morris, On board the Fruitful. Richard Wemyss and Dave Crowther

Message on a Bottle Update – link