kids encyclopedia robot

Kirkcaldy facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Kirkcaldy and its harbour - - 1143873.jpg
Aerial view of Kirkcaldy and its waterfront
Area 6.9 sq mi (18 km2)
Population 49,460 
• Density 1,669/sq mi (644/km2)
OS grid reference NT275915
• Edinburgh 11 miles (18 kilometres) S
• London 341 miles (549 kilometres) SSE
Civil parish
  • Kirkcaldy and Dysart
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district KY1, KY2
Dialling code 01592
Police Fife
Fire Fife
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
  • Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath
Scottish Parliament
  • Kirkcaldy
List of places
Coordinates: 56°06′39″N 3°10′03″W / 56.11073°N 3.16737°W / 56.11073; -3.16737

Kirkcaldy ( Scottish Gaelic: Cair Chaladain) is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It is about 11.6 miles (19 km) north of Edinburgh and 27.6 miles (44 km) south-southwest of Dundee. The town had a population of 49,460, which was recorded in 2011, making it Fife's second-largest settlement and the 11th most populous settlement in Scotland.

Kirkcaldy has long been nicknamed the Lang Toun (; Scots for "long town") in reference to the early town's 0.9-mile (1.4 km) main street, as indicated on maps of the 16th and 17th centuries. The street later reached a length of nearly 4 miles (6.4 km), connecting the burgh to the neighbouring settlements of Linktown, Pathhead, Sinclairtown and Gallatown, which became part of the town in 1876. The formerly separate burgh of Dysart was merged into Kirkcaldy in 1930.

The area around Kirkcaldy has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The first document to refer to the town was in 1075, when Malcolm III granted the settlement to the church of Dunfermline. David I later gave the burgh to Dunfermline Abbey, which had succeeded the church: a status which was officially recognised by Robert I in 1327. The town only gained its independence from Abbey rule when it was created a royal burgh by Charles I in 1644.

From the early 16th century, the establishment of a harbour at the East Burn confirmed the town's early role as an important trading port. The town also began to develop around the salt, coal mining and nail making industries. The production of linen which followed in 1672 was later instrumental in the introduction of floorcloth in 1847 by linen manufacturer, Michael Nairn. In 1877 this in turn contributed to linoleum, which became the town's most successful industry: Kirkcaldy was a world producer until well into the mid-1960s. The town expanded considerably in the 1950s and 1960s, though the decline of the linoleum industry and other manufacturing restricted its growth thereafter.

The town is a major service centre for the central Fife area. It has a swimming pool, theatre, museum and art gallery, three public parks and an ice rink. Kirkcaldy is also known as the birthplace of social philosopher and economist Adam Smith, who wrote his magnum opus The Wealth of Nations in the town. In the early 21st century, employment is dominated by the service sector: the biggest employer in the town is PayWizard, Formerly MGT plc. (a call centre). Other main employers include NHS Fife, Forbo-flooring (floor coverings), Fife College (formerly Adam Smith College) and R Hutchison Ltd (food).



The name Kirkcaldy means "place of the hard fort" or "place of Caled's fort". It is derived from the Pictish caer meaning "fort", caled, which is Pictish "hard" or a personal name, and -in, a suffix meaning "place of". Caled may describe the fort itself or be an epithet for a local "hard" ruler. An interpretation of the last element as din (again meaning "fort", but from Gaelic) rather than -n is incorrect. The Old Statistical Account gives a derivation from culdee, which has been repeated in later publications, but this is also incorrect.


The discovery of 11 Bronze Age cist burials which date from 2500 BC and 500 BC suggests that this is the most ancient funerary site in the area. What probably made this location ideal was its natural terraces stretching away from the sand bay, and the close proximity of the East Burn to the north and the West (Tiel) Burn to the south. Four Bronze Age burials dating from around 4000 BC have also been found around the site of the unmarked Bogely or Dysart Standing Stone to the east of the present A92 road. Although there are few Roman sites in Fife, a Roman camp was known to exist at Carberry Farm on the town's outskirts.

The Battle of Raith in AD 596 is believed to have taken place to the west of the town's site. The battle was fought between the Angles and an alliance, led by King Áedán mac Gabráin of Dál Riata, of Scots, Picts and Britons.


The first document to recognise the town was issued in 1075, when the King of Scots, Malcolm III (reigned 1058–93) granted the shire of Kirkcaladunt, among other gifts, to the church at Dunfermline. The residents were expected to pay dues and taxes for the church's general upkeep. Two charters, later confirmed by Malcolm's son David I in 1128 and 1130, refer to Kircalethin and Kirkcaladunit respectively, but do not indicate their locations.

In 1304, a weekly market and annual fair for Kirkcaldy was proposed by the Abbot of Dunfermline to King Edward I, during a period of English rule in Scotland from 1296 to 1306. The reason given for these discussions was that the town may have been referred to as "one of the most ancient of burghs". This status as a burgh dependent on Dunfermline Abbey was later confirmed in 1327 by Robert I, King of Scots (reigned 1306–29).

A charter granted in 1363 by David II, King of Scots (reigned 1329–71), awarded the burgh the right to trade across the regality of Dunfermline. This charter allowed the burgesses of Kirkcaldy to purchase and sell goods to the burgesses of the three other regality burghs—Queensferry, Dunfermline and Musselburgh—that belonged to the Abbey. By 1451, Kirkcaldy was awarded feu-ferme status. Under the status, responsibility would now lie with the bailies and council to deal with the routine administration of the town and its fiscal policies; conditional on an annual payment of two and a half marks (33s 4d or £1.67) to the Abbot of Dunfermline.

16th to 18th centuries

At the beginning of the 16th century, the town became an important trading port. The town took advantage of its east coast location, which facilitated trading contacts with the Low Countries, the Baltic region, England, and Northern France. The feu-ferme charter of 1451 between the Abbot of Dunfermline and the burgesses of Kirkcaldy mentioned a small but functioning harbour; it is not known when this harbour was established, or whether it was always located at the mouth of the East Burn. According to treasurers' accounts of the early 16th century, timber imported via the harbour—possibly from the Baltic countries—was used at Falkland Palace and Edinburgh Castle, as well as in shipbuilding. Raw materials such as hides, wool, skins, herring, salmon, coal and salt were exported from the town until well into the 17th century.

A charter issued by Charles I granting royal burgh status in 1644 led to the full independence of the town. As a gesture, the king gave 8.12 acres (3.29 ha) of common muir suitable for "bleaching of linen, drying of clothes, recreation and perpetuity" to the town. In 1638, under the reign of Charles I, the town subscribed to the National Covenant, which opposed the introduction of episocopacy and patronage in the Presbyterian church. Support for the Covenanting cause cost the town over 250 men at the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645. The continuing civil wars killed at least another 480 men and led to the loss of many of the harbour's trading vessels. By 1660, this left the town with only twelve registered ships, down from 100 it is claimed were recorded between 1640 and 1644.

Towards the end of the 17th century, the economy recovered, with growth in manufacturing. During this period, Daniel Defoe described Kirkcaldy as a "larger, more populous, and better built town than ... any on this coast". A shipbuilding revival produced 38 vessels between 1778 and 1793. In the mid-19th century, whaling became important to the town for a short time. In 1813, the first Kirkcaldy whaling ship, The Earl Percy, sailed north to the Davis Strait; the town's last whaler, The Brilliant, was sold in 1866 to Peterhead, bringing an end to the industry. Construction of a new turnpike from Pettycur to Newport-on-Tay via Cupar in 1790, while improving only one section of Fife's isolated road system, brought a huge increase in traffic along Kirkcaldy's High Street, and helped to strengthen the town's position.

Volunteers' Green, Kirkcaldy
Remains of the common muir now known as Volunteers' Green


For most of the 19th century, the main industries in the town were flax spinning and linen weaving. To cope with increasing imports of flax, timber and hemp, and exports of coal, salt and linen, between 1843 and 1846 a new wet dock and pier was built at the harbour. In 1847 a canvas manufacturer, Michael Nairn, took out a licence on Frederick Walton's patent for the production of floorcloth, and opened a factory in nearby Pathhead. When the patent expired in 1876, Nairn and other floorcloth manufacturers began the manufacture of linoleum. Production of both floorcloth and linoleum occupied seven factories in the town by 1883, employing 1,300. A further expansion of the harbour was completed between 1906 and 1908, for another increase in linoleum and coal.

The expansion of the town led in 1876 to the extension of the royal burgh's boundaries. The town absorbed its neighbouring settlements of Linktown, in the parish of Abbotshall; Invertiel in the parish of Kinghorn; and Pathhead, Sinclairtown and Gallatown in the parish of Dysart. These formerly separate settlements had once been forbidden by the old guild rights to sell their goods in Kirkcaldy. In 1922–1923 a seawall and esplanade were constructed, funded by the Unemployment Grants Commission and built by unemployed residents. In 1930, the town expanded to include the former royal burgh of Dysart.

During the 1950s and 1960s, new housing estates were built north-west of the town. This was followed by the redevelopment of the town centre in the 1960s and 1970s, which destroyed much of the old high street. There was speculation that the town's population could increase to around 55–60,000 by 1970. This did not happen: a decline in the linoleum industry in the mid-1960s led to a decrease in population, from a peak of 53,750 in 1961 to 47,962 in 1981.

In the 21st century, Kirkcaldy remains an important centre for the surrounding areas, with a Museum and Art Gallery, three public parks and shopping facilities. The town also hosts the annual Links Market, commonly known as Europe's longest street fair. The production of linoleum continues, though on a greatly reduced scale, under Swiss ownership (Forbo Holding AG). Kirkcaldy Harbour, which closed in 1992, re-opened in October 2011 to cargo ships. A project between Carr's Flour Mills, the parent of Hutchison's, Forth Ports (owners of the harbour) and Transport Scotland, will allow Carr's to bring in wheat via the harbour and remove a quarter of its lorries from the roads every year.


Kirkcaldy photomontage
View of Kirkcaldy Bay seen from the beach near Invertiel

Kirkcaldy curves around a sandy cove between the Tiel (West) Burn to the south and the East Burn to the north, on a bay facing southeast onto the Firth of Forth. The town lies 9.3 miles (15 km) south-southeast of Glenrothes, 11.8 miles (19 km) east-northeast of Dunfermline, 44.4 miles (71 km) west-southwest of Dundee and 18.6 miles (30 km) north-northeast of Edinburgh. The town adopted its nickname of the lang toun from the 0.9-mile (1.4 km) single street, recorded on early maps of the 16th and 17th centuries. The street eventually reached a length of nearly 4 miles (6.4 km), linking the burgh to its neighbouring suburbs of Linktown, Pathhead, Sinclairtown and Gallatown.

Historians are not sure where the medieval centre of Kirkcaldy was located, but it may have been at the corner of Kirk Wynd and the High Street. This would have been the site of the town's Mercat cross and focal point of the burgh. The linear market was important not only to the town itself but to the nearby hinterland. The main thoroughfare was either paved or cobbled, with flagstones covering small burns running down the hill towards the sea across the High Street. Running back from the High Street were burgage plots or "rigs" of the burgesses; these narrow strips of land were at the front and to the rear of the houses. On the sea side of the High Street, plots may have served as beaching grounds for individual tenements. The plots on the other side of the High Street rose steeply to the terracing of the Lomond foothills. A back lane running behind the plots from Kirk Wynd went to the west end of the High Street in a southerly direction. This lane would in time be developed as Hill Street. At the top of Kirk Wynd was the Parish Church of St Bryce, now known as the Old Kirk, overlooking the small settlement.

The small burns that are tributaries to the East Burn contributed to the draining of the lands of Dunnikier Estate. The burn emerges from a deep-set culvert to flow under the Victoria Viaduct, down a deep gorge, through the site of Hutchison's Flour Mills before running parallel to the harbour wall and into the sea. From the mid-19th century, the Hutchison's buildings became a significant landmark adjacent to the burn. The flour millers chose this area for its railway connection which linked the main station to the harbour, rather than for the need to use the burn to power the mills. The West (or Tiel) Burn, was also important, providing power for textile mills. This burn flowed out of the Raith Estate lands where scenically and recreationally it was used to create Raith Lake (with its tributary, the Dronachy Burn). The mill owners in Linktown also made use of the burn.


Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a detailed assessment on the size of the townscape was carried out. The first estimate of the parish population in 1639 was between 3,000 and 3,200 and around 3,400 by 1691. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the population declined. A census by Webster's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland in 1755, recorded an estimate of 2,296 in the parish. By the time of the first national census in 1801, the population had risen to 3,248. The population of the burgh was recorded as 4,785 in the 1841 census, and had risen to 34,079 by 1901. By the time of the 1951 census, the figure stood at 49,050.

Kirkcaldy compared according to UK Census 2011
Kirkcaldy Fife Scotland
Total population 49,709 365,198 5,295,403
Percentage Scottish identity only 66.6% 63.8% 62.4%
Over 75 years old 8.8% 7.9% 7.7%
Unemployed 6.4% 4% 4.8%

According to the Census in 2001, the census locality of Kirkcaldy has a total resident population of 46,912 representing 13.4% of Fife's total population. It hosts 21,365 households. 14.8% were married couples living together, 16.4%were one-person households, 18.8% were co-habiting couples and 7.9% were lone parents. A 2010 assessment estimated that the town had a population of 49,560. This had increased to 49,709 in the Census in 2011. The median age of males and females living in Kirkcaldy was 37 and 41 years respectively, compared to 37 and 39 years for the whole of Scotland. The age group from 30 to 44 forms the largest portion of the population (22%).

The place of birth of the town's residents was 96.52% United Kingdom (including 87.15% from Scotland), 0.28% Republic of Ireland, 1.18% from other European Union countries, and 1.86% from elsewhere in the world. The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 40.13% in full-time employment, 12.17% in part-time employment, 4.79% self-employed, 5.68% unemployed, 2.57% students with jobs, 3.06% students without jobs, 15.70% retired, 5.51% looking after home or family, 6.68% permanently sick or disabled, and 3.71% economically inactive for other reasons. Compared with the average demography of Scotland, Kirkcaldy has low proportions of immigrants, and has higher proportions for people over 75 years old.

In 2010 more than 7,000 people claimed benefits in the Kirkcaldy area; around 90 fewer than in 2009 but 500 more than the pre-recession average for 2008. A study undertaken by Heriot-Watt University in 2004 estimated that the average gross weekly household income in Kirkcaldy in 2004 was £421, which was 7.5% lower than the £455 Fife average. The below-average income in the area may reflect more workless households, and relatively fewer households holding down well-paid jobs. Recent Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) figures indicate that the most deprived datazone in Fife is Gallatown and Sinclairtown which has a rank of 82, meaning that it is amongst the 5% most deprived areas in Scotland. Linktown, Seafield, Hayfield, Smeaton and Templehall East areas in Kirkcaldy fall within the 5–10% banding of most deprived communities in Scotland.

Nairn's smeaton factory
Nairn's Linoleum Works


KMAG (Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery)
Kirkcaldy Galleries

Kirkcaldy Galleries is home to the town's museum and art gallery and central library. The building opened in 1925 under its former name of Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery and was extended to provide a main library in 1928. In 2011, the building was closed to allow a £2.4 million renovation which was completed in June 2013. The work resulted in the integration of the facilities within the building through a single entrance and reception desk. The building also adopted its present name.

The Adam Smith Theatre, the town's main auditorium, plays host to theatrical and musical productions as well as showing a selection of arthouse and commercial films. Originally known as the Adam Smith Halls, the theatre adopted its present name in 1973 after a renovation of the building in time for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Adam Smith.

The Links Market originated as a farmers market on Links Street, before moving to its present site in 1903 on The Promenade (then known as Sands Road). The market visits the town every April and celebrated its 700th anniversary in 2004. Kirkcaldy has had a twin-town link with Ingolstadt in Germany since September 1962. There are plans for a joint celebration to recognise the 50th anniversary of the town's twinning with Ingolstadt in 2012.

There are three main public parks in Kirkcaldy.

Beveridge Park, to the west of the town is a 104 acres (420,000 m2) park created from the existing Robbie's Park, and land purchased from the Raith Estate. This was part of a £50,000 bequest from linen manufacturer and provost Michael Beveridge, who died in 1890. On 24 September 1892 a crowd of over 10,000 came to see the park's opening hosted by his widow, the provost, magistrates, and the town council of the royal burgh. The park includes a boating lake, a formal garden with fountain, a skateboard park, rugby ground, football pitches and woodland walks. The park was awarded a green flag award in both 2010 and 2011.
Ravenscraig Park, to the east of the town was formed from the estate of Dysart House. The grounds were bequeathed to the town by the linoleum manufacturer Sir Michael Nairn in 1929. It is adjacent to Ravenscraig Castle
Dunnikier Park, to the north of the town, purchased by the town council in 1945, consists of an area around Dunnikier House and is home to numerous woodland walkways.

Sport and leisure

San Starko
Stark's Park, home ground of Raith Rovers

Raith Rovers F.C. is the town's senior association football team. They play in the Scottish Championship, the second tier of Scottish football at their ground, Stark's Park. Founded in 1883, the club were elected to the Scottish Football League in 1902. They reached their highest league position in the 1921–22 season, when they were placed third in the Scottish Football League. They achieved a British scoring record of 142 goals in 34 matches in the 1937–38 season. Under manager Jimmy Nicholl, the team were promoted to the Scottish Premier Division as Division One champions in the 1994–95 season. In 1994 the club won their first national trophy, when they defeated Celtic 6–5 on penalties after finishing the game 2–2, to win the League Cup. This gained them qualification to the UEFA Cup in the following season, where they reached the second round before losing to Bayern Munich.

The junior football team, Kirkcaldy YM, play at Denfield Park in the East Region Premier League. Kirkcaldy RFC are the senior rugby team and play at Beveridge Park in BT National League Division 2, the third tier of Scottish club rugby. Fife Flyers, established in 1938, are the oldest ice hockey team in the United Kingdom. The team, who play at the Fife Ice Arena, have been members of the Elite League since the 2011/2012 season. A cricket club plays at Dunnikier Park and a flag football club at Beveridge Park. The town has a range of leisure facilities such as a swimming pool, an ice rink, and two golf courses (Kirkcaldy and Dunnikier).

Fife Ice Rink
Fife ice arena

A new £15 million leisure centre on the town's Esplanade opened its doors in September 2013. This has replaced the old Kirkcaldy Swimming Pool from the 1970s. The decision to build a new leisure centre on this site was controversial, as it resulted in the loss of a public car park. A petition organised by the campaign group Save The Car Park collected over 7,000 signatures in favour of keeping the car park open. The group said that the closure of the car park would discourage shoppers from coming to the High Street and raised issues over the loss of shopowners' right of access to the car park. This decision was severely criticised in an internal audit report.


(Square Norman Tower of) Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy
Square Norman (west) tower of the Old Kirk

The oldest church in Kirkcaldy is the Old Kirk, the old parish church, on Kirk Wynd. The earliest mention of the Old Kirk is the record of its consecration in 1244 to St Brisse and St Patrick by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews. The building's deterioration in the late eighteenth century was addressed by major renovations to the main body of the church between 1807 and 1808. Only the square western tower, which dates from around 1500, was retained and is now the oldest building to have survived within the old burgh. In 2000 the Old Kirk was amalgamated with St Brycedale Church and was closed for public worship in 2008. It has since been re-opened by the Old Kirk Trust and is used for musical and dramatic performances. Other significant churches in the town include St Bryce Kirk built between 1877 and 1881 by James Matthews at the corner of St Brycedale Avenue and Kirk Wynd; Abbotshall Parish Church on Abbotshall Road, the current building completed in 1788 and Linktown Church built in 1830-1 by George Hay on Bethlefield Place.

Kirkcaldy Town House on Wemyssfield is the centrepiece of the town's civic square. It was designed in the 1930s by David Carr and William Howard of Edinburgh. World War II stopped work on the building until 1950. Construction was split into two phases: the west wing, which was completed in 1953, and the east wing, completed in 1956.

Kirkcaldy War Memorial in War Memorial Gardens unveiled in 1923 was gifted to the town by John Nairn, linoleum manufacturer and grandson of Michael Nairn. This was dedicated to Ian Nairn, the son of John Nairn who died in the First World War. A Second World War memorial, designed by Thomas Hubbard, was later added and unveiled in 1958. The memorial commemorates the lives of 1,012 people from the First World War and 452 from the Second World War. Forming a centre piece to these gardens is Kirkcaldy Galleries, formerly known as Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery, which was also donated by Nairn.

Sailors' Walk, Kirkcaldy, Fife
Sailors' Walk

In the north-east are two homes of early wealthy merchants and shipowners connected with Kirkcaldy's harbour. The Merchant’s House or Law’s Close at 339–343 High Street; once owned by the Law family, is one of the best surviving examples of a sixteenth-century town house in Scotland. Sailors' Walk, at 443–449 High Street; consists of two seventeenth-century houses, resting on foundations dating back to around 1460. These two houses were once divided into four dwellings; three of which were owned by the Oliphant family and the fourth by James Ferguson of Raith.

North of the harbour area, on The Path, are two examples of distinctive architectural styles. Hutchison's House was designed by George Spears, the owner of the nearby East Bridge distillery, in 1793. Path House, originally known as Dunnikier House, is a three-storey L-plan tower house designed by John Watson in 1692 for his bride, Euphan Orrock. In 1703 Watson sold the house to the Oswald family, who had important links with the town.

Ravenscraig Castle 01
Ravenscraig Castle, showing the large D-plan west tower and the ruined east tower

Two large stately homes also exist within the town. To the north of Kirkcaldy is Dunnikier House, built in the late eighteenth century as a seat for the Oswald family, replacing their previous residence at Path House. To the south-west of Kirkcaldy is Raith House, built in the late seventeenth century by Sir Alexander Raith, 4th Earl of Raith and Melville, for his bride, Barbara Dundas. The house remains a private residence of the Munro-Ferguson family.

To the east of the town are the ruins of Ravenscraig Castle on a rocky spit of land extending into the Firth of Forth. King James II began construction of the castle in 1460 for his queen, Mary of Gueldres. It was also a means of defending the upper reaches of the Forth, including the port of Dysart. To a lesser extent it protected the harbour of Kirkcaldy against piracy and English rivalry. Ravenscraig is one of the earliest British castles designed to defend against and use artillery, an innovation demonstrated by the massive walls, the regularly placed shot holes, and the deep rock-cut ditch. Following the death of the King at the siege of Roxburgh Castle (1460), work continued on Ravenscraig, and it became a home for Mary of Gueldres until her death in 1463. In 1470 King James III granted the castle and lands to William Sinclair, Earl of Orkney and Caithness, in exchange for the castle in Kirkwall and the right to the Earldom of Orkney.


Kirkcaldy railway station
Main Entrance (South Platform), Kirkcaldy Railway Station

The A92, which connects Dunfermline to the west with Glenrothes and Dundee to the north, passes immediately north of Kirkcaldy. The A910 road connects it to the western and central parts of the town. At Redhouse Roundabout the A921 connects the A92 to the eastern side of Kirkcaldy. It continues via St Clair Street and The Esplanade on to Kinghorn, Burntisland, and Aberdour to the south-west. The main route through the north of the town, the B981, runs roughly parallel to and one kilometre to the south of the A92. This road also connects to the A910 and the A921, from Chapel Junction via Chapel Level and Dunnikier Way to Gallatown. From here the A915, known locally as the Standing Stane Road, connects the town to St Andrews and Leven to the north-east. The A955 runs along the coast from Dysart to East Wemyss and Buckhaven to the north-east.

The main bus station, adjacent to the Postings Shopping Centre, is between Hill Place and Hunter Street. The Kirkcaldy railway station is to the north-west of the town centre and is on the route for the Fife Circle Line and the East Coast Main Line. Other services run to locations such as Aberdeen, and Inverness to the north and London King's Cross to the south. Nearby stations such as Burntisland and Kinghorn are to the south and west of the town. The nearest international airport is Edinburgh Airport, 26 miles (42 km) away.

Images for kids

kids search engine
Kirkcaldy Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.