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Miners Welfare, Mining Museum, and Bowling Club
Miners Welfare, Mining Museum, and Bowling Club

The village of Kinglassie stands in central Fife some 3 miles south west of the centre of Glenrothes (and half that distance from its edge), and two miles north east of Cardenden. It is connected to both by the B921, which runs through the village, but otherwise tends to be bypassed by the main routes across Fife.

Centre of the Village
Centre of the Village
Mitchell Hall
Mitchell Hall
Post Office
Post Office
Parish Church
Parish Church
War Memorial
War Memorial

The origins of the village are a little hazy. Dogton Stone, the base of a free standing carved stone cross probably dating back to the 800s, stands in a field a little over a mile south of Kinglassie. This suggests that settlement in the area dates back at least 1200 years. Some sources say that the original name of the village here was "Goatmilk", but while maps reveal a "Goatmilk Farm" and "Goatmilk Hills" on the south west edge of Glenrothes, their distance from modern Kinglassie adds to the intrinsic unlikeliness of such an obviously English name being applied at an early date.

Primary School
Primary School
Kinglassie Minimarket
Kinglassie Minimarket
Heading East out of Kinglassie
Heading East out of Kinglassie
Fife Mining Museum
Fife Mining Museum

We prefer the view that the name of Kinglassie is much older, and in some way linked with the name of the Dogton Stone (which derives from that of Dogton Farm, on which it stands). The name of Glen Kinglass, elsewhere in Scotland, is believed to come from the Gaelic "Conghlais" meaning "dog stream". "Kinglassie" seems on the face of it to be likely to have a similar origin, perhaps in common with Dogton.

Kinglassie itself was the site of a medieval church, and by the 1500s was home to a community of hand loom weavers and to one or more early and probably small scale coal mines, within what was mainly a farming landscape. The village you see today has its origins in a planned settlement developed from about 1800 by the local landowners, the Balfours of Balbirnie, to provide a settlement for weavers. At its west end stood the parish church, rebuilt in 1774 (and altered since) on the site of the medieval church.

The village that entered the 1900s seems to have been very similar to the one originally developed a century earlier. Everything changed, however, with the coming of large scale deep mining to Kinglassie. In 1908 the Fife Coal Company sank the first of two shafts for what became Kinglassie Colliery. By 1950, some 660 miners were employed extracting 800 tonnes of coal every day. Five years later employment had increased to over 760 miners. By the time the pit closed in 1966, the local economy had come to rely very heavily on the miners' incomes, and although some of those who had worked at Kinglassie Colliery could have transferred to the new Rothes "superpit" in Glenrothes, this turned out to be a spectacular failure and would itself close within three years.

Today's Kinglassie is an intriguing mix. Much of the physical evidence of the pit has long gone, but the housing built to accommodate the miners and their families between the wars remains. Meanwhile, newer development, especially at the eastern end of the village, reflects the growth of nearby Glenrothes as a post WWII new town.

If you enter the village from the south west, you pass the parish church set back from the road to your left, with the more obvious Braefoot Tavern on the same side. You then climb up to what might be described as the centre of the village. Here you find the ornate Mitchell Hall, built in 1896, with the more modern Post Office opposite, plus the village shops.

A little further to the east is the attractive building erected in 1931 which now serves as the Miners' Welfare, the Fife Mining Museum, and the Bowling Club. Carry on past this and you come to the village school. A mile north east of Kinglassie, immediately to the south of the Goatmilk Hills, is Fife Airport, a centre for general aviation and leisure flying.

Approaching Kinglassie from the West
Approaching Kinglassie from the West
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