Online Encyclopedia

KIRKCALDY (locally pronounced Kerkawdi)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 830 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
KIRKCALDY (locally pronounced Kerkawdi), a royal, municipal and police burgh and seaport of Fifeshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901), 34,099. It lies on the Firth of Forth, 26 m. N. of Edinburgh by the North British railway, via the Forth Bridge. Although Columba is said to have planted a church here, the authoritative history of the town does not begin for several centuries after the era of the saint. In 1240 the church was bestowed by David, bishop of'St Andrews, on Dunfermline Abbey, and in 1334 the town with its harbour was granted by David II. to the same abbey, by which it was conveyed to the bailies and council in 1450, when Kirkcaldy was created a royal burgh. In the course of another century it had become an important commercial centre, the salt trade of the district being then the largest in Scotland. In 1644, when Charles I. raised it to a free port, it owned a hundred vessels, and six years later it was assessed as the sixth town in the kingdom. After the Union its shipping fell off, Jacobite troubles and the American War of Independence accelerating the decline. But its linen manufactures, begun early in the 18th century, gradually restored prosperity; and when other industries had taken root its fortunes advanced by leaps and bounds, and there is now no more flourishing community in Scotland. The chief topographical feature of the burgh is its length, from which it is called the " lang toun." Formerly it consisted of little besides High Street, with closes and wynds branching off from it; but now that it has absorbed Invertiel, Linktown and Abbotshall on the west, and Pathhead, Sinclairtown and Gallatown on the east, it has reached a length of nearly 4 M. Its public buildings include the parish church, in the Gothic style, St Brycedale United Free church, with a spire 200 ft. high, a town-hall, corn exchange, public libraries, assembly rooms, fever hospital, sheriff court buildings, people's club and institute, high school (1894)—on the site of the ancient burgh school (1582)—the Beveridge hall and free library, and the Adam Smith memorial hall. To the west lies Beveridge Park of fro acres, including a large sheet of water, which was presented to the town in 1892. The harbour has an inner and outer division, with wet dock and wharves. Plans for its extension were approved in 1903. They include the extension of the east pier, the construction of a south pier 800 ft. in length, and of a tidal harbour 5 acres in area and a dock of 4 acres. Besides the manufacture of sheeting, towelling, ticks, dowlas and sail-cloth, the principal industries include flax-spinning, net-making, bleaching, dyeing, tanning, brewing, brass and iron founding, and there are potteries, flour-mills, engineering works, fisheries, and factories for the making of oil-cloth and linoleum. In 1847 Michael Nairn conceived the notion of utilizing the fibre of cork and oil-paint in such a way as to produce a floor-covering more lasting than carpet and yet capable of taking a pattern. The result of his experiments was oil-cloth, in the manufacture of which 'Kirkcaldy has kept the predominance to which Nairn's enterprise entitled it. Indeed, this and the kindred linoleum business (also due to Nairn, who in 1877 built the first linoleum factory in Scotland) were for many years the monopoly of Kirkcaldy. There is a large direct export trade with the United States. Among well-known natives of the town were Adam Smith, Henry Balnaves of Halhill, the Scottish reformer and lord of session in the time of Queen Mary; George Gillespie, the theologian and a leading member of the Westminster Assembly, and his younger brother Patrick (1617-1675), a friend of Cromwell and principal of Glasgow University; John Ritchie (1778-1870), one of the founders of the Scotsman; General Sir John Oswald (1771-1840), who had a command at San Sebastian and Vittoria: Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie castle, about 11 m. W. of the town, was sent with Sir David Wemyss to bring the Maid of Norway to Scotland in 1290; Sir Walter Scott was therefore in error in adopting the tradition that identified him with the wizard of the same name, who died in 1234. Carlyle and Edward Irving were teachers in the town, where Irving spent seven years, and where he made the acquaintance of the lady he afterwards married. Kirkcaldy combines with Dysart, Kinghorn and Burntisland to return one member to parliament.
End of Article: KIRKCALDY (locally pronounced Kerkawdi)
[back]
JOHN KIRKBY (d. 1290)
[next]
SIR WILLIAM KIRKCALDY OF GRANGE (c. 1520-1573)1

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.