A town in S Fife, situated near the mouth of the River Leven on the Firth of Forth between Buckhaven and Leven. Once associated with salt pans and coal-mining, the former had declined by the middle of the 19th century but mining continued on a significant scale until the 1950s.
The town forms the core of the industrial communities of Leven, Innerleven, Kirkland, Aberhill, Methilhill, Denbeath, Muiredge and Buckhaven and owes its modern development to the docks which were established in the 1870s for the export of Fife coal. From the 1970s the town became a centre for the construction and maintenance of offshore oil platforms for the North Sea.
The oldest part of the town is Lower Methil, close to the docks, while Upper Methil was developed behind on a raised beach from the late 19th century. Lower Methil was redeveloped from the 1970s and, located there, Methil Heritage Centre (1995) features a changing programme of exhibitions focusing on the town's local industrial history. Notable buildings include Methil Parish Church (1925), a public library (1935, extended 1970) and the Tower Bar (1906) with a distinctive tower modelled on the 18th-century tollbooth in West Wemyss.
In addition to its three docks, Methil is the site of a coal-slurry power station and an industrial estate with industries producing machinery, clothing, bricks, plastic piping, animal feed and fertilisers. A branch railway which served the docks and power station was last used in the 1990s but remains extant although now in poor condition. Opened in 2008, on the site of a former oil-rig construction yard, Fife Energy Park manufactures wind turbines. A new stadium for East Fife Football Club, together with modern industrial units have been developed on part of the harbour.