Elie Harbour
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Elie Harbour

A coastal resort and residential town in the East Neuk of Fife, Elie lies 2½ miles (4 km) southwest of St Monans on the edge of a sickle-shaped bay with sandy beaches.

Stretching out for a mile around the bay, it comprises from east to west the once separate settlements of Elie, Liberty, Williamsburgh and Earlsferry which were united as the burgh of Elie and Earlsferry in 1929. The town takes is name from the Ailie or island of Ardross which formed a natural harbour accessible only at low tide and in 1589 received its royal charter from James VI. Elie subsequently developed as an important centre of commerce, boat building, fishing and weaving.

Its harbour, built in the 16th Century, is now a haven for yachts and small craft and is one of few harbours in Scotland to be run by a private company for the people of the burgh. Elie has many interesting 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings. Elie gained a railway station in 1863 on the Fife Coast Railway, but this closed in 1965.

The parish church was built by Sir William Scott of Ardross in the 1630s prior to the disjunction of Elie from the parish of Kilconquhar in 1641, and to the east overlooking Ruby Bay stand the ruins of The Lady's Tower, built as a seaside summer house for Janet Fall, Lady Anstruther. Elie Rubies are actually small, red semi-precious pyrope garnets, which can be found on the beach, having weathered out of the Carboniferous igneous rocks.

Amongst Elie's most famous sons is the golfer James Braid who won the Open Championship five times between 1901 and 1910. In addition to two golf courses, Elie is today a centre for bowling, tennis, sailing and windsurfing.

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