Friday, August 26, 2011

West Wemyss … and The Walk Inn

This is Part one of my Mother and Daughter Day out.

I am ashamed to say that this picturesque village is a short bus ride a long the coast from me and is yet another place I had not visited before....West Wemyss

The word Wemyss comes from the Gaelic “weems” for the sandstone caves that are common on this part of the coastline.

The wall of this church yard dates from 1703, there is also a WWI Memorial set in to it but the actual parish church, St Adrian’s Church, within, was built in1890’s …

…it is said it was built by the Wemyss family, to save the worshipers their walk in to East Wemyss each Sunday.

There are many of those lost in mining accidents, buried within the wall along with five brave men whose act of valour was only commemorated in January 2011 ….70 years after the event.

This memorial stands out side the Churchyard near the coast line and I think is very fitting.

It is thought that in January of 1941 a special constable was told of a mine being washed towards the shore on the tide, he, a member of the Home Guard, two other miners and a young pit lad sacrificed their lives in order to move the beast away from the village, knowing that had the mine exploded along side, a greater tragedy would have occurred. The blast, it is said, was so strong that the castle orangery, standing high above the coastline, lost some of its windows. Sadly all five lost there lives but it is believed that they understood the danger they were putting themselves in.

I have come across many contradictions in dates, as I tried to research this village’s history but I have done my best to untangle them and hope I will be forgiven for any errors.

Main Street

The white tower is part of theToll Booth …first built in the late 1500’s with a two prison cell beneath ... but was rebuilt in the 1700’s…in the Dutch style by David the 4th Earl of Wemyss, , with the Wemyss crest of a swan, made in gold, set on top as a weather vain.

Next to it is a way through to the sea front from Main Street

The sea front ...I had the camera glued to my face snapping away lol

The Coxstool ....looking on to the sea..(the large while building was a sailors rest ..)

This beautiful village started its life as a settlement for Wemyss Castle ….

...whose original construction began in the 13th century. The castle was rebuilt and extended over the following centauries and is still used by the Wemyss family today. It was at the early castle that Mary, Queen of Scots, met Lord Darnley, who became her husband in 1566.

These are the ruins of a very early castle keep

The village and its harbour, known as "Haven Town of Wemyss" by the locals, came into its own in the early 1500’s due to salt and coal. Salt had become a major industry in Wemyss.

Sadly, towards the end of the century, a ship brought in the Plague to the harbour … it spread quickly through out Fife, dramatically reducing the population.

The Wemyss family had a new harbour constructed around 1620 ... it was to be an important port of call for ships exporting and importing goods. The early1600’s also brought the first glass making factory in Scotland, to just outside the the village.

By the end of the seventeenth century it was thought to be a major harbour for the exporting of coal. Wemyss land, itself was rich in coal and stretched far into Fife and now had many pits including at least one that stretched beneath the Forth. The ships that exported the coal and salt would return with imports of iron, timber and flax .

The middle of the 1800’s saw other docks emerge, or be increased in size, and the salt industry go into a decline.

The railway, towards the end of the century, had connected the pits to the harbours and docks and also connected many of the villages along the coast. Ships were still being built there in 1900 but the village’s decline started slowly with the opening of the new enlarged Methil Docks, further along the coast to the east, in 1907 and the demand for the West Wemyss harbour decreased.

Over the decades that followed the decline set in and by the 1970’s the pits and railways here and along the coast were gone (thanks to Lord Beeching) …the harbour was largely filled in.... and what remains I didn't get a shot of as I turned back to get a coffee at the Walk Inn…even West Wemyss’ school was demolished and the population was in total decline.

It is this decline, that the residents today are fighting to reverse, with the creation of The Walk Inn. They want to preserve the small but loyal, caring community and give themselves something to work towards,to be proud of creating and a reason to join together keeping the village of West Weymss alive and kicking.

For many years this village has not even had a shop, café or public house but the community took on the challenge to buy the empty Wemyss Arms and create a café, a bistro, a shop and a small walkers hostel. They applied for a lottery grant and after some hard work, actually were awarded one … and work began.

When I visited, the café only was open and they were having teething problems with the power …well it was only a few days after opening after all …but I can’t wait to return when everything is up and running. Our tea and homemade cakes were delicious and the service and friendly atmosphere was one which many may have thought was long gone … the young might never even have realized it ever existed. It will be a wonderful community meeting place but also a fantastic place for visitors, regular or casual, to partake of refreshments during a day out.

Hope you enjoyed the trip to West Wemyss .... Part 2 ...Dysart .... next week.

Take Care xx


weaverpat said...

I love the old church and the graveyard. And the castle! And the lovely little village! You give the best tours!!! I only wish I were there in person. If I ever get to Scotland (which will probably never happen) would you please be my tour guide?
I am so glad the villagers are trying to bring new life into their area. I would think writers and artists would love to live in such a wonderful scenic place.
Also thank you for doing the historical research.

Julia Dunnit said...

Great post Angie..fancy having that coastline on your bus rideable doorstep - lovely. Every wee village seems to have a real tale in its history, huh. AM hugely impressed by the community Walk Inn, what a great way to do things.

Shazsilverwolf said...

What a brilliant post- I so enjoyed it. We love to visit places like this, with lots of history to see, and it has just gone on our 'places we must visit' list. Thanks for a really interesting post, Love Shaz. p.s Sorry I am so Late visiting this week, Happy (late) WOYWW,

JoZart said...

Lovely post, really interesting history and fab pics. Enjoyed reading it.
BTW you are the closest to the mystery object.... there is a tenuous link to it in your comment.
love Jo x

JoZart said...

Bustle support my a****!!
Love jo x

JoZart said...

Bustle support my a****!!
Love jo x

Pam said...

Wow-that looks interesting. I went to Pittenweem recently and fell in love with it, so i think some more time in Fife is in order

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Really splendid post.
Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

Neet said...

What a wonderful journey I have just had. Superb photos transported me to West Wemyss. I look forward to reading chapter 2 next week.
I hope all goes well with the new venture for the villagers and if ever I am in that area I will certainly pay them a visit and sample the delights of the cafe.
Thanks for sharing your travels and thanks for your good wishes and encouragement. Hugs, Neet xx

SueH said...

Oh Angie, it sound like you had a fab time together, you and your daughter and so many beautiful photos to remind you of the day.
I used to work with a guy called Ian Wemyss and he wore the Wemyss tartan on his wedding day. Have to say I’ve never seem Orange and Red tartan before but he looked really smart.

By the way I’ve left a little something for you over at Krafty Kards.


Spyder said...

Love your pictures! and yes! You found the spider!


famfa said...

Lovely photos. Looks like a fab day out. Look forward to reading part 2

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post Angie. Love all the history and the beautiful old buildings. And what a great idea The Walk Inn is.


Carole Fitzgerald said...

Thankyou so much for this lovely review of West Wemyss. You'll be delighted to know that we are now properly up and running and we genuinely appreciate you writing such a fabulous piece. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou!!!