Flying the flag for Cupar …

As the Tartan Army gathered in force for the Euros ’24, one of the most enduring images has been of the many Saltire flags draped on barriers and across stands in grounds across Germany. On a recent visit to Cupar Museum & Heritage Centre, we were told of a former flag factory that was on a site opposite the museum’s home. Trustee, Ian Copland, tells us more …

A recent enquiry at Cupar Museum from Scottish Hockey reminded us that Cupar once boasted a factory that made flags to order.       

D.M Stenhouse, located at the Stratheden Linen Works on Station Road was a long-established linen manufacturer that decided to diversify and meet the challenges of a downturn in the linen trade in the 1950s.

The firm was started in 1865, located on a site that is now largely occupied by the Lidl Supermarket.

George Hardie, the managing director of D.M. Stenhouse supervised the initial flag making venture from 1955. The other products that emerged from the factory included towels, sheets, table-cloths and pillowcases.

Initially the first flags that left the flag room – employing a staff of twelve – were code flags for signalling purposes. National flags and civic flag orders soon followed including a Fife County Council flag unfurled at the County Buildings during the visit of the Queen.

The emerging nations in Africa were another source of business and the staff built up a considerable knowledge about the flags of the world.

As a going concern, the range of orders for ceremonial events included many for local authorities needing a supply of Union Jacks and Saltires.

The Royal Weddings in the 1980s saw a significant demand for larger flags that they specialised in.

Top of the pole …

In 1986, when the Commonwealth Games took place in Edinburgh, the Cupar firm made all the official flags for the 62 participating nations.

The 1996 Euro Finals which were hosted in England found Cupar’s expertise called upon once again when flags had to be supplied. Flags had to be produced for each of the 16 nations measuring 60 feet by 30 feet from a machine room that was smaller than the actual flags.

At the opening ceremony on the 8th June, each of the flags was carried into Wembley Stadium by teams of 20 children!

So, the flags made in Cupar and paraded and flown around the country were seen by a worldwide audience of billions. 

However, the story ends on a sad note: the firm closed down a year later.

Tell us more …

Did you work at D.M Stenhouse – or know someone who did?

Perhaps you own a flag made by them?

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