On November 18th, 1785, David Wilkie was born in Cults Manse. He was the third son of the Minister’s third wife. His birthplace was not the present Kirkton House but the former Manse, built on the same site at least 150 years earlier. This was the home of his boyhood and youth. It was there that he painted Pitlessie Fair, The Village Recruit and the early sketches for The Village Politicians. For an easel he had a chest of drawers with the middle drawer pulled out to rest his canvas on. Though lacking the ”tools of his trade” he had no scarcity of subjects. He found them in Pitlessie village and school, the neighbouring cottages and in the manse itself. His father’s Kirk was also a source of models, much to the indignation of those he sketched, and others, who thought that the Minister’s son should be better employed on the Lord’s Day! His Bible, with 21 tiny drawings, can be seen in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. The National Galleries have large collections of his oils, water-colours and drawings. To celebrate his bicentenary, a Flower Festival with the theme of Wilkie paintings was held in the Kirk. A ”Pitlessie Fair” was held in the village with traditional stalls and games. Villagers dressed as shown in the original painting, including Reverend Iain Forbes who preached a sermon from a cart.
SIR RALPH COCHRANE
As a young man Sir Ralph Cochrane flew airships until it was recommended that he learn to fly aeroplanes. He soon mastered this and went on to assist in the creation of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1936, becoming its Chief of Staff in 1937.
Sir Ralph promoted the skill of precision bombing during World War I and is specially remembered for his involvement in training pilots for the famous Dam Buster raid in May 1943. After the War he continued in the RAF with Transport Command and saved pilots lives through specialised training needed for the Berlin Airlift 1948 - 49