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Wm Gibson & Co Ltd Golf Club Works

Photograph of the men at the works - date unknown.

Thank you to Alec Cook for the copy.

Click for full size

Click photograph for full size.

A separate photograph was taken of the ladies.


Introduction by Jim Allison


Image may be subject to copyright

William Gibson, born in Kirkcaldy in 1868, was a blacksmith to trade and started to do wrought iron work in Kirkcaldy. He became interested in making "cleeks" (as early metal headed golf clubs were called) while working for Anderson of Anstruther, a noted club maker. He entered into partnership with Mr Stirling from Edinburgh. On his partner's death, Mr Gibson moved to Kinghorn. He applied to Kinghorn Town Council on 13th September 1902, for permission to build suitable premises at Bowbutts  for manufacturing golf clubs. The industry was estimated to employ about eighty men and, after an initial "hiccup" (a heavy gale) the work expanded. Work on the hickory shafts was transferred to other premises near the Cuinzie Neuk area of Kinghorn. The iron heads were also produced for other golf club factories, and the hickory shafts are unique in that they were produced from hickory wood sourced from America.

In 1911, the company proclaimed that they were "The Largest Makers of Hand Forged Golfing Irons in the World". The company was re-capitalised in 1913, with the two sites being centralised to the High Street in Kinghorn, opposite the present church hall.

Work ceased on the Declaration of War in 1914, as there were other uses for steel. It took time for business to re-develop after the War, as Gibsons' monopoly had been destroyed by America's late entry to the War and club factories having been set up there in the interim.

Business expanded however and Gibsons were the prestige name for golf irons and clubs until the 1930's, when hickory shafts were brought into disrepute professionally.

The Second World War claimed many of Gibsons' staff, but the "Astra" line of clubs ensured Gibsons' post-war success - along with the "Kinghorn (Tacky) Grip".

Sir John Barbirolli wrote a letter of thanks for 72 batons produced for the Halle Orchestra.

The company went into voluntary liquidation on 1st July 1955.  The Town Council bought the premises in 1986 for £2,500. The site is now occupied by the new Primary School. 

Click to enlarge at 3rd March 2010