East Wemyss


A village of Fife, East Wemyss lies on the Firth of Forth, 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Kirkcaldy. Formerly known as Castleton, it stands close to the ruins of 16th-century Macduff's Castle which was the home of the Wemyss family before they built Wemyss Castle. The village takes its name from the 'weems' or caves in the sandstone cliffs which contain Pictish and early Christian symbols. Between 1898 and 1967 the majority of the people in East Wemyss relied on the nearby Michael Coal Pit for employment. This was Wemyss Coal Company's showpiece colliery, built to exploit coal seams beneath the Firth of Forth. It was the largest pit in Scotland at nationalisation in 1946, which employed more than 3300 men in 1957. However, it was closed after an undersea fire caused the deaths of nine miners, highlighting a number of safety issues and destroying an amount of the remaining coal reserves. The site was completely cleared in 2001, leaving only a pair of concrete plinths indicating the location of the two shafts which once descended 549m (1800 feet). East Wemyss was the birthplace in 1908 of the accordionist and band leader Jimmy Shand.

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