Leven, Fife

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Grid reference: NO384007
Location: 56°11’42"N, 2°59’39"W
Population: 8,850  (2008 est.)
Post town: Leven
Postcode: KY8
Dialling code: 01333
Local Government
Council: Fife

Leven is a seaside town in Fife, on the coast of the Firth of Forth at the mouth of the River Leven, 8 miles northeast of Kirkcaldy and 6½ miles east of Glenrothes.

According to an estimate taken in 2008, Leven has a population of 8,850. The town forms part of the Levenmouth conurbation which has a total population of 31,450.


The name "Leven" comes from the Pictish word for "flood". The nearby Loch Leven, being the flood lake, was the name given to both the river and town.[1]

A settlement is believed to have formed at the mouth of the River Leven very close to the area around Scoonie Brae with the discovery of the parish church of "scoyne".[1][2] During the mid-11th century, Bishop Tuadal of St Andrews gifted the church of "scoyne" to the Culdees of Loch Leven. By the end of the 11th century, the village along with the church were acquired by Bishop Robert of St Andrews following the decline of culdeen faith.[1][2]

The first mention of the current town was made in the middle of the 15th century, according to two separate records referring to the town's name as levynnis-mouth. This contained information about the urgent need for repair work at the town's monastery and Georgie Durie, a local estate owner, becoming the keeper at the harbour.[1][2]

In 1854 the Leven Railway opened, linking the town with Thornton Junction on the Edinburgh - Aberdeen main line. This helped it to become a tourist resort popular with visitors, particularly from Glasgow. Later in the 19th century the Leven Railway became part of a loop line of the North British Railway linking Thornton Junction and Leuchars Junction by way of St Andrews. The railway between Leven and St. Andrews closed in 1965. The railway between Leven and Thornton Junction closed to freight in 1966 and passengers in 1969. A project into the reopening of the line is under consideration, dubbed the Leven rail link. Until then, the nearest station is Markinch railway station.

Leisure & Tourism

Tourism is a major economic activity in and around Leven. There are several large caravan parks in and around the town, as well as a number of hotels and guest houses. The neighbouring villages of Lundin Links and Lower Largo have over 50 high quality self-catering properties available for visitors.

The coast and the long sandy beaches are the main visitor draw. Leven has an attractive beach promenade with playparks and other facilities including an indoor Kids Action Zone. The promenade is part of the Fife Coastal Path that stretches for over 150 miles from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay. There are also popular family facilities and walks in the large parks at Letham Glen and Silverburn. The former includes a crafts centre and woodland walks, while the latter has attractive gardens and coastal views.

Golf is also a major draw with two courses at Scoonie and Leven Links and another within easy walking distance at Lundin Links. Leven Links has been used as a qualifying course for the Open Championship when it is held at St Andrews, the "home of golf" only 15 miles to the north. There are also a good number of bowls clubs in and around the town for those who prefer to play with bigger balls over shorter distances.

Levenmouth Leisure Centre at the start of the promenade is an all-weather attraction with a large, modern indoor swimming pool and sports facilities. The town also has a popular 374-seat, community-run cinema, The Regent, which has programmes of new release feature films and hosts regular events such as concerts and live wrestling. History enthusiasts can find out about the area's past at the Heritage Centre in neighbouring Methil, which is only a 15-minute walk from Leven town centre.

The town centre is the main shopping centre for a wide area with a number of national chain supermarkets and retailers as well as award winning independent local retailers. It also has a large number of restaurants and cafes.

Economic Activity

Pfaudler Balfour's yard at Leven

Levenmouth suffers from poor connections to the rail and main road network, particularly since the closure of the last railway link in 1969, which came at the same time as the collapse of coal mining. The knock-on effect virtually sealed the fate of Methil as a major port on this part of the coast.

Very little remains in the way of major employment since the closure of the coal mining industry. The major employer now is the drinks manufacturer Diageo which has its main bottling plant in the town, and one of the largest distilleries in the world at Cameron Bridge, near Windygates. There is hopefully some light on the horizon in the proposed Fife Energy Park (this is operating now 2008, they produce wind turbines) which is to utilise the former oil-rig building yard in Methil which was itself built on the former Wellesley Colliery. On the North side of the Forth, there is talk of starting a ferry service to Edinburgh, and this may help to revitalise the area and increase house prices which at the moment are among the lowest in the land.

Outside links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Pearson, John M. (1993). Around Kirkcaldy, 1st edition. Levenmouth Printers. ISBN 0-9519134-3-3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Eunson, Eric (1991). Bygone Leven. Stenlake Publishing. ISBN 1-872074-07-3.