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Leven


Fife

A town on the Firth of Forth lying to the north of the mouth of the River Leven in Fife, Leven forms part of an extensive urban area with Methil, Buckhaven and Windygates.

It is the only town in the parish of Scoonie whose church was gifted in the 11th Century to the Celtic Culdees of Loch Leven at the source of the River Leven. By the 16th century a harbour and village had emerged close to the church, the settlement being elevated to the status of a burgh of barony. During the next 300 years its industries expanded to include weaving, bleaching, spinning, coal mining, salt extraction, fishing and the manufacture of rope. During the 19th century its port activity declined with the silting up of its harbour and the building of the Methil Dock to the south of the River Leven, but with the arrival of the railway the town began to develop as a holiday centre. However, the railway line closed to passengers in 1969 and is now abandoned.

The town has a swimming pool and sports complex, several bowling greens, playing fields and two 18-hole golf courses (Scoonie and Leven Links). In addition to beach front recreation and caravan facilities there are recreation facilities in the Letham Glen park. There is also a library (Greig Institute) and an annexe to Fife College.

Industry, which is mainly located in the Banbeath Industrial Estate, Hawkshaw Trading Estate, Burnmill Industrial Estate and Levenmouth Business Centre, includes sawmilling, iron founding, printing, boat building, engineering, industrial plant fabrication, computer supplies and the manufacture of knitwear and plastics. The multi-national drinks conglomerate Diageo operates an immense alcohol bottling and packaging plant here (opened in 1973), in association with the nearby Cameronbridge Distillery. Brands such as Smirnoff vodka and Gordon's gin are bottled here, while the 60.7 ha (150-acre) site is also responsible for the entire world output of Pimms and Gordon's Sloe Gin and is the only site in Britain making Archers and Malibu.

Leven is linked to Innerleven on the other side of the River Leven by the Bawbee Brig. Built in 1957 to replace the original bridge of 1840 it replaced a ferry crossing that cost the traveller a halfpenny or 'bawbee'.

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