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Inverkeithing Harbour

A Category B Listed Building in Inverkeithing, Fife

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0283 / 56°1'41"N

Longitude: -3.3951 / 3°23'42"W

OS Eastings: 313153

OS Northings: 682586

OS Grid: NT131825

Mapcode National: GBR 20.SC6M

Mapcode Global: WH6S3.TRG0

Entry Name: Inverkeithing Harbour

Listing Date: 4 August 2004

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397659

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49949

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Inverkeithing

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay

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Inverkeithing

Description

Late 18th century and earlier 19th century; later alterations and repairs. Small, narrow rubble-built harbour on N-S axis to NE of Inverkeithing Bay at point where Keithing Burn debouches into bay. Keithing Burn enters head of harbour through square bull-faced rubble sluice installed 1840 (with later brick repairs). 20th century metal footbridge runs over sluice (where Halbeath Railway formerly crossed Keithing Burn); large steel girder bridging top of sluice at angle to footbridge. Coursed, squared rubble and random rubble quay walls to E and W sides of harbour (extensive concrete render repairs); E quay (99 meters long); W quay (172 meters long); stone steps and some iron fixtures such as rope hooks to W. W quay terminating in squat round-edged coursed rubble pier (formerly known as Mid-Pier, former terminus of Halbeath Waggon Way). Additional harbour inlet W of Mid-Pier (formerly known as West Harbour) now in-filled (2003). 19th century rubble wall remains of former shipbuilding works to E quay (incorporated into small marina, 2003). Coped random rubble wall to N of sluice bordering Keithing Burn to W, terminating at Commercial Road Bridge (see separate listing).

Statement of Interest

This harbour has played a important role in Inverkeithing's circa 850-year history, contributing significantly to the royal burgh's position as a key port on Scotland's east coast. Inverkeithing was 1st documented in 1129 and was declared a Royal Burgh by 1165. A natural harbour, Inverkeithing most likely provided shelter for shipping at all periods in the past. It is also probable that it was a landing place for the early Queensferry Passage during the 12th century. The port is mentioned in the 14th century although there is no mention of harbour works at this date. However a harbour was recorded in 1587 when the works were described to be in "dekayitt" condition, also suggesting that works were not new by this date. In 1666, there is further mention of piers and "heads". In 1703, Adair states that "the entry to Inverkeithing Bay or Harbour is large and open [...]. Along the Shoar below [the town] there is a large and convenient Key of Stone [...]" (see Graham). The present harbour does indeed show evidence of 18th century construction but would most likely date to the end of the century when the advent of the Halbeath Waggon Way in 1783 (an early Scottish colliery waggon way - see separate listing for Boreland Road, Bridge over Keithing Burn and Halbeath Waggon Way for more information) instigated a great number of improvements to the harbour, in particular the lengthening of the Mid-Pier which became the waggon way's terminus. The most important trade from Inverkeithing was the shipping of coal principally from the Halbeath Colliery but also from a number of other collieries in the Townhill area. Coal production and shipping peaked in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. As traffic and boats sizes increased the relatively shallow depth of Inverkeithing Harbour became a problem. Measures were put in place to deepen the harbour but eventually this improvement was not enough to preserve the local trade, which by then had brought about other works such as shipbuilding, paper mill, etc. The Halbeath Colliery closed in 1850 but the railway continued to be used to service local industries north of Inverkeithing until 1867. However, the track at the Inverkeithing end of the Halbeath Waggon Way still continued to be used after 1867 and a branch line of the Dunfermline and Queensferry Railway was connected in 1877. As general trade ceased in the later 19th century, the harbour became somewhat neglected. However some businesses did continue to take advantage of the harbour's position such as Caldwell's pulp and paper mill, later taken over by Inveresk Plc, occupying most of the land to the W of the harbour (2003).

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