West Wemyss

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West Wemyss
West Wemyss - geograph.org.uk - 101255.jpg
West Wemyss
Grid reference: NT327947
Location: 56°8’27"N, 3°5’3"W
Post town: Kirkcaldy
Postcode: KY1
Local Government
Council: Fife

West Wemyss is a village standing on the north shore of the Firth of Forth, in Fife.[1] A 2007 estimate gave the village a population of 237.

The village was granted burgh of barony status in 1511, bearing the name from the Wemyss family who lived in Wemyss Castle.


The village of West Wemyss began as a settlement around the site of Wemyss Castle which developed into a centre for the salt industry in the area.[1][2] An epidemic of plague arrived in Scotland in July 1584, brought on a ship that docked in West Wemyss.[3][4]

A harbour was later built in 1621 by the Wemyss family for the use of coal exportation from the pits on the lands of their estate. The harbour would become a major export point for coal by the late 17th century. The ships brought back imports of wood, iron and flax from the Baltic Countries. A wet dock was added for the increased demand of the coal in the 1870s.

West Wemyss

Towards the latter stages of the 19th century, the village found itself surrounded by several mines - such as the Michael Pit in nearby East Wemyss.[5] Industry and trade grew, with coal shipped even to The Low Countries, but it started to struggle once the new docks were opened in Methil further along the Fife coast. Gradually, the demand for the harbour began to fall and it went into decline. The harbour has since been filled in and part of the old village restored, becoming a conservation area with several attractive buildings.

The manse in the village was rebuilt in 1894 to a design by Robert Lorimer.[6]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Lamont-Brown Fife in History and Legend pp.151–152.
  2. Omand,Donald The Fife Book p.195.
  3. David Masson, Register of the Privy Council of Scotland: 1578-1585, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1880), pp. 679, 690, 695.
  4. Shrewsbury, J. F. D. (10 November 2005). A History of Bubonic Plague in the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521022477. https://books.google.com/books?id=ATOlhaEvN3wC&q=plague+1584+wemyss&pg=PA256. 
  5. Pearson, John M., Around Kirkcaldy p.31.
  6. Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Robert Lorimer