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Kennoway, Fifeshire

Historical Description

KENNOWAY, a parish, in the district of Kirkcaldy, county of Fife; containing, with the village of Baynton, and part of Star, 2044 inhabitants, of whom 1101 are in the village of Kennoway, 3½ miles (E.) from Markinch. This parish, which derives its name from the situation of the village at the head of a small but beautifully romantic glen, is about three miles in length from east to west, and two in breadth from north to south. It comprises about 3750 acres, whereof 3470 are arable, 250 woodland and plantations, and the remainder pasture and waste. The surface, which is gently but irregularly undulated, is diversified with hills and valleys; and the higher grounds command extensive and richly-varied prospects over the adjacent country, comprehending a fine view of the Firth of Forth, with the shipping, the island of May, the Bass Rock, and Inchkeith, the southern coast from Dunbar to Edinburgh, the Lammermoor, and part of the Pentland hills. From the highest eminence in the northern part of the parish, is a more extended prospect, including nearly the whole of the county, with large portions of the counties of Perth, Angus, and Stirling, and the range of the Grampians. The scenery is enlivened by numerous small rivulets that intersect the parish in various directions, and by others flowing along its boundaries. Of these rivulets one, entering the parish near Balnkirk, on the north, after following a circuitous course, passes close to the village of Kennoway, where it meanders through a deep dell, darkened by the foliage that crowns its banks. Issuing from this dell, it receives a tributary stream at Kennoway-Burns, on the south boundary of the parish, whence proceeding about a mile southward, it falls into the river Leven.

The SOIL is fertile, though varying in quality; in some parts light, in others a dry loam, in others a rich loam intermixed with clay, and towards the western extremity of the parish a peat-moss. The crops are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, turnips, and a few acres of beans. In this parish, as in others, the rotation system of husbandry is generally practised; and through the improvement of the lands by draining, and the abundant use of lime and manures, the crops are greatly superior, both in quantity and quality, to what they formerly were. The cattle reared are in general of the Fifeshire breed, with occasionally a cross of the Teeswater, which produces a stock nearly as forward at three years old as the Fifeshire at four, and which is more easily fattened: the cows for the dairy are all of the native Fifeshire breed. The plantations consist chiefly of larch and Scotch fir, which thrive well, and attain to a considerable growth; and many hard-wood trees have been interspersed, and appear to be adapted to the soil. Great improvements have been made on their respective lands by the various proprietors. The farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and some have been lately built in a superior style: on most of the farms threshing-mills have been constructed, some of which are set in motion by steam. The lands are well inclosed with hedges, kept in good order. Among the substrata are freestone and whinstone: the former, of very soft quality, and coarse in its texture, is quarried only on a very limited scale; the whinstone, which is good, is quarried in various parts for building, and for mending the roads. Coal is found in several places, and is worked at Balgrie by J. B. Fernie, Esq., of Kilmux, who, in consequence of the exhaustion of the former mines, which had been in operation for more than sixty years, lately opened a new mine in that part of the parish. The coal lies at a depth of more than fifty fathoms; the vein is nearly six feet in thickness, and of very good quality, affording an ample supply of fuel for the neighbourhood. About fifty persons are employed in the pits, from which the water is drawn off by a steam-engine of forty-eight horse power. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4654. In this parish the seats are, Auchtermairnie, a fine old house, pleasantly situated in a tastefully-embellished demesne; and Kingsdale and Newton Hall, both handsome modern mansions, in grounds ornamented with flourishing plantations.

The village of Kennoway, where the church stands, is neatly built on the banks of the principal stream, which are richly clothed with plantations. The chief employment of the inhabitants is the weaving of linen, in which not fewer than 300 persons are engaged; and several are occupied in spinning and winding yarn. Exclusive of two mills for grinding oats and barley, there are a mill for sawing wood and a mill for spinning tow, driven by water. The principal articles manufactured are dowlas, sheetings, twills, diapers, and Darlingtons. For the greater facility of procuring reeds for the use of the weavers, a society has been established in the village, called the Kennoway Reed Society, consisting of 120 persons, who form a proprietary of 200 shares. Fairs are held in April and October; but they are not very numerously attended, and little business is transacted. Intercourse with the neighbouring market-towns of Cupar and Kirkcaldy is maintained by good turnpike-roads, and easy communication between the several parts of the parish is afforded by convenient roads in every direction. Kennoway is ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Kirkcaldy, synod of Fife, and in the patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £242. 17., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum. The church is an ancient structure, displaying some interesting architectural details; it was substantially repaired in 1832, at an expense of £200, and is adapted (or a congregation of nearly 500 persons. There are places of worship for members of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church. The parochial school affords instruction to about 120 scholars; the master has a salary of £34, with £30 fees, and a house and garden. There are also Sabbath schools, in connexion with which is a juvenile library of 400 volumes. An annual distribution of coal and meal is made among the poor, about the commencement of the year, for which an extraordinary collection is raised at the church. A savings' bank has been established upwards of fifteen years, and still continues in operation.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis