Howff is a Scots word meaning enclosed space, a favourite haunt or a shelter. A very appropriate name for a folk club started in a basement!
The basement was previously used as an air-raid shelter in the Second World War and there used to be a chemist shop above.
It became a gathering place for ‘The Dunfermline Howff Folksong Club’, which started here on 16th October 1961, led by John Beck and John Watt (1933-2011). The Club regularly met here until 1969, when their growing popularity meant they needed more space, and as the sign says “…due to fire safety regulations.”
Early performers included Jimmy MacBeath, The Humblebums, Josh MacRae and Jeannie Robertson. Other significant folk performers, like Barbara Dickson and The Stewarts, also played after the Club moved to the Brucefield Hotel.
You can hear some on the Spotify playlist below or watch John Watt and Davey Stewart from 2010, singing the classic ‘Kelty Clippie’ on YouTube.