Just a Couple of Quick Questions

1. Why St Mary’s?

St Marys Lane
St Mary’s Lane

St Mary’s Lane (home of the Rio Community Centre – or Cinema, depending on your vintage) runs from Cupar Road to William Street.

St Marys 2009
St Mary’s Cottage, 2009

This house called St Mary’s Cottage is 13 Robert Street. But why St Mary’s?

They both predate St Mary’s church at the foot of the High Street by several decades, so there is no connection there.

But there is a link between lane and cottage. James Smith. He was a wright who, in 1857, feued the land on William Street where the Rio now is and built on the plot.1 He sold the plot and buildings in 1864 and then bought the property on Robert Street. From then on the cottage is known as St Mary’s Cottage.2

Street names, particularly small street names, in Newport are notoriously fickle: even the Town Council Minutes frequently get them wrong – their earliest mention of St Mary’s Lane is 1904-5.3 The only other appearance was in 1871 when it was referred to as Smith’s Lane4 – a good example of the persistence of names as James Smith had moved away 7 years previously.

So – why St Mary’s? Maybe he just thought his wife5 was very special.

2. Who was Cuthbert?

Cuthbert’s Brae and Cuthbert’s Road both run south from West Road to join Wellgate Street.

Cuthberts Brae

Cuthbert’s Brae runs up the side of the former Independent Church (35 & 37 West Road), built about 1820.

Cuthbert’s Road runs south off the West Road between 43 and 47 West Road. It was originally a farm road serving Just’s farm buildings and joining the main road between 2 cottages.6

Cuthberts Road

The Brae and the Road were only joined in the 1860s when the other houses between them were built. Cuthbert’s Brae is given as an address from the early 1920s. At one time some houses in Wellgate Street used Cuthbert’s Brae as their address.7 There are earlier references in the Town Council minutes for 1901-2.8

But there is no record, so far, of anyone named Cuthbert living in the area or owning or farming land here. So –

Who was Cuthbert?


  1. Sasine Abridgements, Fife, originals at National Records of Scotland
  2. 13 Robert Street
  3. Extracts from Newport Town Council Minutes 1904-05
  4. Fifeshire Journal, 8 Jun 1871, p1 – notice to move the location of Newport toll by 19 feet (all newspapers available at British Newspaper Archive)
  5. Marriages (OPR), Creich, Fife, 10 Apr 1837, James Smith and Mary Peat, 418/20 80. at ScotlandsPeople
  6. Ordnance Survey 6″ Fife, 1854, copy at National Library of Scotland, Map Images. Weaver’s cottage, cottage and Broadhaugh steading.
  7. Local directories for example: Brown, Miss, Ivybank, Cuthbert’s brae. West Newport in 1922-23 Dundee Directory
  8. Extracts from Newport Town Council Minutes, 1901-02


  • St Mary’s Lane: Google StreetView, 56.4400925,-2.9406921, May 2023
  • 13 Robert Street: Google StreetView, 56.4420313,-2.9397284, May 2009
  • Cuthberts Brae: personal collection, taken early 1990s; Google StreetView, 56.4341511,-2.951519 is similar
  • Cuthbert’s Road: Google StreetView, 56.4337743,-2.9528573, May 2023

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