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


In the 1820s Marytown* (the area between William Street and James Street, Tay street and Queen Street) was created on a green field site. A steam ferry to Dundee had recently been introduced and the area was seen as being ripe for development. Of the first 10 feuars, 5 were in the building trade1 and one of the first was John Murray, a mason from Sutherland (although when he took on the ground he described himself as a mere labourer).2

Murray feued a block of 5 lots of ground between Union Street and King Street, and extending from James Street three-quarters of the way to Robert Street – that was a large piece of land. But its shape allowed part of it to be used as a quarry – ideal for a mason. The quarry face is still there, behind 50 Union Street. Murray built 5 houses along the King Street boundary, opened up the quarry, and established a walled garden for fruit and vegetables. He called the houses ‘Murray Place’.3

Fife Herald 1837
Fife Herald 21 Sep 1837

Advertising the property to let in 1837, the houses take pride of place – one is suitable for a genteel family, then the garden, and last the quarry. In another advert in 1842 the houses were ‘well adapted for summer lodgings’.4

Business must have had its ups and downs. Murray was able to rent out the quarry, and the houses would have easily found tenants. But in 1846 he defaulted on a loan secured over the property5, which meant he lost it all.

Fife Herald 1846
Fife Herald, 10 Dec 1846

Notice this time the ground and garden are placed first, the houses second and the quarry last. The land could be feued off to provide ‘marine villas’. Property adverts need to be taken with a pinch of salt – the railway line was only a proposed line; and the comparatively new houses were at least 15 years old.

Eventually the whole site was acquired by Alexander Rhind, corn merchant and tenant of Woodhaven Farm.6 About the same time, Rhind feued the site at the other end of King Street on the corner with Gowrie Street. On the Gowrie Street site he built a bakehouse and shop, while on the Seacraig site he built Seacraig House.7 Rhind moved into Seacraig House himself and Murray rented one of his original houses.8

1854 Ordnance Survey map
1854 Ordnance Survey map

Over time, Seacraig House was home to Harry Walker, Dundee jute merchant (Dura Works & Caldrum Works), who lived here before Westwood (now St Serfs) was built; then retired sea captain Robert Brown.9 Eventually it was turned into flats about 1914, and demolished in 1956.10 It is now the site of Seacraig Court.

Seacraig 1943
Seacraig in 1943. Seacraig Garage – the large building above the K in King St.; Seacraig House – above St. in King St.; Seacraig Cottages – between King St. & James St.

The Murray Place houses were later called Seacraig Cottages. They too made way for Seacraig Court. (The whole site between King Street and Union Street had actually been identified as a possible site for housing by Newport Town Council in 1919.)11

The productive walled garden in 1869 became the first home of Newport Bowling Club. They moved to Scott Street in 1877 and the green here was then used by the Maryton Bowling Club. From 1925 it was the site of Seacraig Garage, and now of the houses 31-37 King Street.12

The quarry had stores and stables on it and the bungalow was built in the 1920s.13

Seacraig Court was opened for new residents in 1958.14

StreetView 2009
Seacraig Court seen from King Street in 2009 over the last remaining piece of the surrounding wall – even that has gone now.

* Marytown in Newport is frequently spelled Maryton, and is not to be confused with Maryton, a parish near Montrose, which is sometimes spelled Marytown. Searches for either must include both spellings.


(Look on this as an example of what can be gained from documentary sources; links to the Archive pages have further reference details there):

  1. Sasine Abridgements, Fife, originals at National Records of Scotland
  2. Sasine Abridgements, Fife 1826 03206; Census 1841 Forgan parish, Fife, District 1, p 12; Census 1851, Forgan parish, Fife, District 1, p 13, originals at ScotlandsPeople
  3. Registers of Voters, Fife, 1832
  4. Fife Herald, 28 Apr 1842, p1
  5. Fife Herald, 10 Dec 1846, p1; Sasine Abridgements, Fife, Marytown, plot of 5 pieces of ground
  6. Sasine Abridgements; Fifeshire Journal, 19 Feb 1846, p1
  7. Dundee Courier, 21 Nov 1911, p6 – obituary of H S Rhind
  8. Census 1851, Forgan parish, Fife, District 1, p 13
  9. Directory and Valuation Roll entries for Seacraig House
  10. Minutes of Newport Town Council, 1956
  11. Minutes of Newport Town Council, 1919
  12. Directory and Valuation Roll entries for Marytown Bowling Green; and Seacraig Garage
  13. Valuation Roll entries for quarry site
  14. Fife, Scotland, Electoral Registers, 1914-1966, available on ancestry.co.uk