A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Leven, a town in Scoonie parish, Fife, on the NE side of the mouth of the river just described. It has a station on the Leven and East of Fife section of the North British Railway system, from Thornton Junction to Anstruther, and is by rail 26 miles NNE of Edinburgh, 17 NE of Burntisland, 10¾ NE of Kirkcaldy, 6 E by N of Thornton Junction, and 13¼ W by S of Anstruther. Originally a small weaving village of some antiquity, and a burgh of barony, it has since developed into a seaport and centre of manufactures of considerable importance. It includes the hamlet of Scoonieburn, and is separated by the Leven river from the village of Inverleven or Dubbieside in the parish of Markinch. It is a police burgh, having in the beginning of 1867 adopted the General Police Act of 1862. There are three principal streets with cross streets, but the town is irregularly built, though there are some good houses, particularly towards the links to the E, where there are a number of villas. The road to Inverleven crosses the river by a handsome stone bridge. The harbour ranks as a creek under Kirkcaldy port, and prior to 1876 was simply the natural inlet at the mouth of the river, difficult of access, but admitting vessels of 300 tons to a small quay built about 1833. Under the Leven Harbour Act, however, of 1876, a new wet dock, a river wall, a protection wall, and a railway siding, were constructed at a cost of £40,000, and opened in 1880. The dock is 500 feet long and 250 broad, and has 16 feet of water on the sill at ordinary tides. Vessels of 800 tons can now be loaded, but financially the scheme has not been successful, and the trust has disposed of the works to the proprietor. The new docks to be erected at Methil will probably still farther lessen the trade. The principal imports are flax and tow, barley, timber, pig-iron, and bones; and the principal exports-coal, linen, and linen-yarn, whisky, bone-dust, cast-iron, and potatoes.

The industries of the place are flax-spinning, linen-weaving, and seed-crushing, while in the neighbourhood there are extensive foundries, bone-dust and corn mills, bleach-fields, brick-works, and rope-works. The public halls are the town-hall, with accommodation for 600, and the Gardeners' hall, with accommodation for 400. There is also a drill-hall. The People's or Greig Institute is an institution akin to a mechanics' institute, and is due to a popular movement begun in 1871. The first building occupied was an old U.P. church, but in 187273 the present two-story structure, containing a library, a reading-room, a billiard-room, bath-rooms, and a classroom, etc., was erected by public subscription, at a cost of £2000. The name was given in honour of Mr Greig of Glencarse, who gave the site and subscribed £1000 to the building fund. The Established church-the parish church of Scoonie-in Durie Street, was erected in 1775, enlarged in 1822, and had a new porch added in 1883; it contains 1000 sittings. The Free church, in Durie Street, is a handsome building, erected in 1861 at a cost of £3100; the U.P. church, in Durie Street, is a good building, erected in 1870 at a cost of £2150, and containing over 600 sittings. There is also a U.P. church in Inverleven. The Episcopal church (St Margaret of Scotland), in Blackwood Place, is an Early English building of 1880, with 200 sittings. There is an organ, and the tower contains four bells. Under the school board, the Leven public school, with accommodation for 571 pupils, had in 1882 an attendance of 479, and a grant of £410,2s. Leven has a head post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, offices of the Royal, National, and Commercial Banks, and agencies of 14 insurance companies, a hotel, a battery of artillery volunteers (8th Battery 1st Fife), a masonic lodge, two golf clubs, a bowling club, a curling club, a gas company, and a musical association. A water supply was introduced in 1867. There are fairs on the second Wednesday of April o. s., and on the second Thursday of July, the latter and the two following days being the time of the annual holidays. The fast days are the Thursday before the second Sunday of June, and the Thursday before Sunday with full moon nearest 1 Dec. Burghal matters are managed by a senior magistrate, a junior magistrate, and six commissioners. Sheriff small debt circuit courts for the parishes of Largo, Scoonie, Kennoway, Wemyss (with the exception of the town and suburb of West Wemyss), the village of Inverleven, part of Markinch parish, and the quoad sacra parish of Milton in Markinch, are held on the Friday after the second Mondays of January, April, and July, and the Friday after the first Monday of October. The place gives the title of Earl of Leven in the peerage of Scotland, the first earl being General Alexander Leslie, in 1641. The title is now united with that of Melville. Pop., inclusive of Inverleven, (1841) 1827, (1871) 2501, (1881) 3067, of whom 1441 were males and 1626 females. Houses (1881) 672 inhabited, 37 vacant, 11 building.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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