Largely built in the 1860s to provide homes for Wemyss Coal Company’s workers and their families, Coaltown of Wemyss is now a conservation area where it’s only too easy to imagine tired, weary and coal-stained miners striding into the village at the end of a shift.
The rows of miners’ cottages and the former Miner’s Institute stand testament to the village’s significance in the boom days of Fife’s mining industry.
The Gothenburg Public House in the centre of the village was opened by Lady Wemyss in 1911 in an attempt to stop the local miners drinking too much while also returning some of the money they spent on alcohol to the community. After years of standing empty, The Gothenburg is now a popular Indian and Nepalese Restaurant.
The Wemyss family, owners of Wemyss Coal Company, have lived in nearby Wemyss Castle since the 12th century. In 1877, 21-year-old Dora Wemyss founded The Wemyss School of Needlework, with the aim of teaching miners’ daughters how to sew so they could earn a living as a lady’s maid or a seamstress. Today, The Wemyss School of Needlework is run by Dora Wemyss’ great-great nephew’s wife and is a thriving hub for needlework enthusiasts.