The 1960s was a decade of immense change for Kirkcaldy. Change – and not just the smell of linseed oil – was in the air. Linoleum manufacturers were innovating, creating new products and fashionable designs for new and exciting times. 

However, the decade also saw the beginnings of sharp decline of linoleum production in Britain. The future of the Fife industry – and the thousands of people who depended on it for work – began to look increasingly bleak.  

We’ve just installed a new temporary display in our Moments In Time gallery (on display until 27 October 2022), exploring some of these changes using objects and photographs from our collections.  

While creating the display, we’ve been thinking about what it would have been like to live in Kirkcaldy during this uncertain time. As the fortunes of the linoleum industry began to shift, what did people feel, what did they see – and what music did they listen to? 

Why music? Have you ever been going about your life, and heard a song – in a shop, on the TV, on the radio – and been instantly transported to another time when you heard, sang or danced to that song? Last week I was in a pub where a Red Hot Chili Peppers song was playing, and immediately remembered driving in the car with my dad, singing to the same song and holding my hand out of the open window. Something like this has probably happened to you too. 

With music from times and places which we didn’t experience, music can have a slightly different effect. It’s easy to forget that people in the past – whether it’s the 1960s or the 1560s – were essentially the same as we are now. They had the same thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes. Listening to music from those times, regardless of whether we know the songs, help us to remember that, and to better understand our history. 


Newspaper cutting from the Local Studies collection at Kirkcaldy Galleries.

So, we created this playlist as a bit of an experiment: to help those of you who were in Kirkcaldy during the 1960s remember the time more clearly, and to help those of us who weren’t to imagine what it might have been like. If you have a Spotify account, you can listen here. If not, click here to listen on Youtube. Without further ado, here it is:

1. (If I Say I Love You) Do You Mind? – Anthony Newley  

2. Walking Back to Happiness – Helen Schapiro 

3. Moon River – Danny Williams 

The first three songs on the playlist were all hits in the UK between January 1960 and December 1961 – we picked them to correspond to the three samples of linoleum in the display. These songs don’t mirror the psychedelic influences in the linoleum designs, but they do represent a world on the cusp of a huge change. The new genres and styles of music which would become popular in the next few years – namely rock and roll – would come to dominate more traditional pop music.  

4. Lovesick Blues – Frank Ifield 

But, before we embrace change wholeheartedly, let’s indulge in a little yodelling. This song – made famous by Hank Williams in 1952 (and then again by Mason Ramsey AKA ‘the yodelling kid’ in 2018) was a hit in 1962, when customers from Kirkcaldy to Kings Lynn were covering their floors with designs from this pattern book. While it’s still a quite traditional ditty, we liked the imagining happy lino owners square dancing on their newly laid kitchen floors (and thought you might like to imagine it too). 

5. Foot Tapper – The Shadows 

This song was playing across the UK in 1963, and was at its most popular at the time the news of the Barry’s redundancies was announced in the Fife Free Press in April. It’s a very upbeat tune, and we were sort of hoping for something more in-keeping with the sadness many people in Kirkcaldy would have felt. Ultimately though, we decided to keep it in – it’s important to remember that the rest of the world doesn’t automatically follow suit during dark times.  

6. From Me To You – The Beatles  

Finally, the Beatles. This playlist would have been empty without them, as the band have quite a few connections to Kirkcaldy, and to our linoleum collection. This song would have been heard across Kirkcaldy the day of the Barry’s march in May 1963, and the band would play a show at the Carlton Cinema on Park Road just months later 

7. She’s Not You – Elvis Presley 

Though we tended towards British artists when making our selections, we’d have been remiss if we didn’t include a bit of Elvis. As one of the most iconic voices of the decade, we were sure that people in Kirkcaldy must have been singing this song as events unfolded. This song was a hit when Nairn’s announced that they would be merging with rival firm Williamson’s in September 1962, a move which was finalised in the winter of 1963. 

Like other Kirkcaldy firms, Nairn’s was forced to downsize, diversify and consolidate its business during the 1960s. The decision to merge with Williamson’s, however, may have been what saved it from a full closure; unlike Barry’s, its Kirkcaldy production survived the decade. 

Newspaper cutting from the Local Studies collection at Kirkcaldy Galleries.

8. Where Do You Go To – Peter Sarstedt 

From 1969, linoleum factories began to disappear from Kirkcaldy en-masse. The Barry’s factory complex, which had been mainly concentrated around the train station – was demolished in 1969. This completely changed the shape of the town; the queer like smell that had announced the town to visitors arriving on the rails for a hundred years was beginning to fade as the buildings were levelled. The area today is unrecognisable. 

Not long after, the Nairn’s Pathhead complex suffered the same fate. This included the original ‘Nairn’s Folly’ building – a relic of the beginning of the floorcovering industry in Kirkcaldy. For residents of the town, this must have seemed a particularly bad omen. 

This song was a hit earlier in the year, but we felt its melancholy, nostalgic tone seemed to fit well with the way the demolition of the Kirkcaldy linoleum factories made us feel – and perhaps made those in the town at the time feel, too.

This the first time we’ve used music to supplement our displays, and we’d love to know what you think. If this has prompted any thoughts or memories, or if you have any feedback you would like to share, you can e-mail Lily (Flooring The World Engagement Curator) at 



This blog was written by Lily Barnes, curator working on the linoleum project Flooring the World (2022-2024). Flooring the World is a two-year project exploring the history of the Fife linoleum industry. It is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, which is run by the Museums Association, funding projects that develop collections to achieve social impact.