The decision has been made to close all remaining pay-to-use facilities at Craigtoun Country Park, a recreational facility lying roughly 2 miles South West of St. Andrews. After much discussion over low income throughout the year, demanding costs and a decrease in visitor numbers, all of the expensive facilities such as boating and the railway train that were in place over summer have been scrapped.
Problems were first noticed in February this year; when the park switched to free entry. Despite this, alongside a cafe being open from the 25th of June to the 28th of August and also MRW railways LTD, from Yorkshire, opening a miniature railway train costing £1.50 per train journey, Fife Council have stated that there was no distinctive change in visiting numbers. Consequently, moving towards colder weather during the autumn and winter months, all pay-to-use facilities such as crazy golf, putting, trampolines, bouncy castle and rowing around the Dutch village are all gone now.
To many local residents, the gradual reduction of amenities within the park has been viewed with some sadness. Many stated that they would often take their children or grandchildren there on days out. Furthermore, it is also unfortunate considering Craigtoun is a historic part of Fife. Originally part of the Mount Melville house built in 1902 by the Younger brewing family, it was only in 1947 that Craigtoun was bought by Fife County Council and classified as a Country Park in 1976.
Nonetheless, it is not a great surprise that most students draw a blank when they hear the name ‘Craigtoun Country Park’. Surely that is an eight thousand strong market they are potentially missing out on; especially considering St. Andrews’ limited green space. Obviously there is the beach which provides an excellent outdoor space, however, apart from that, St. Andrews Botanic Garden and Kinburn Park, there is definitely nothing to rival Craigtouns’ fortyseven acres. Furthermore, one local resident told me that the University, many years ago, actually held balls and events in the park. No doubt this boosted income and visiting numbers.
It seems more likely that the main reason has been, like elsewhere in the country, monetary restraints placed on Fife Council. The cuts have definitely been felt nationwide. Unfortunately, parks and cultural spaces such as Craigtoun have suffered as a result. Interestingly, St. Andrews’ Tourist Board noticed a decline in visiting numbers this year but did not see such substantial funding cuts in other local tourist attractions.
For anyone interested in visiting Craigtoun Country Park, do not be put off by the lack of boating, railway and cafe facilities. There is still a Dutch village, floral gardens, summer displays, glasshouses, picnic areas, a summerhouse, playground equipment and pond to be enjoyed on one of St Andrews’ surprisingly warm autumn days. To get there, leave St. Andrews on the B939 and follow the signs for around 5 minutes.