Although coal has been mined in Fife since the 12th century, the industrial revolution sees the number of coal pits in the region increase ten-fold. As the demand for coal swells during the Victorian period, rural villages like Cowdenbeath are transformed into bustling towns as thousands from all over Scotland travelled to Fife in search of employment.
In 1865 a child named Andrew Carnegie is born in a modest cottage in Dunfermline. After emigrating to America with his family, Carnegie rises above his humble origins to become one of the richest men in world.
The steel magnate and philanthropist makes a triumphal return to his birthplace in 1881 and donates Carnegie Library and Pittencrieff Park while his wife Louise purchases his family home as a surprise 60th birthday gift. Today the cottage houses the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum which offers a fascinating glimpse into the private life of this remarkable man.
The construction of the Tay Rail Bridge in 1878 and the Forth Bridge in 1890 further consolidates the region’s economic importance by allowing the rapid transport of goods between Fife, Dundee and Edinburgh.
New ports at Methil, Burntisland and Rosyth also emerge.