Lochgelly in November 2008
|OS grid reference||NT186936|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
From the 1830s until the 1960s Lochgelly was a mining town. With the industry now dead the town has slipped into economic and social deprivation as with other former mining towns. Lochgelly is now classed as a town in need of both social and economical regeneration and has the cheapest average home price in Britain.
Lochgelly, as part of the old parliamentary constituency of West Fife, was known as "Little Moscow" up to the 1950s owing to its Communist political leanings.
The town is served by Lochgelly railway station on the line between Edinburgh and Markinch.
In the 1970s new investment was brought in the form of a factory and development office built by the Andrew Corporation. This created microwave antennae under the banner of Andrew Antennas, symbolised by a red lightning flash on the dishes they made. These dishes were primarily for commercial and military usage. The firm located at the end of "The Avenue" on the south-east side of the village. Adjoining fields were used for testing new equipment.
The town derives its name from the nearby body of water, Loch Gelly. The name comes from the Gaelic Loch Gheallaidh which, loosely translated, means ‘Shining Waters’ or ‘Loch of Brightness’. Land around the loch is owned by Wemyss 1952 Trustees.
The loch was once a very popular spot for the local community and was used on a regular basis for water skiing up until the early 90s. Since then the loch has not been used for water sports.
Lochgelly used to be served in the entertainment sector by the Lochgelly Centre, which had a 424-seat theatre that was ideal for community theatre groups, dance groups and music events. The Lochgelly Centre closed in 2010 for remodelling/refurbishment work, leaving Lochgelly without any access to children's facilities, elderly facilities, community access to various events and classes. The centre re-opened in 2012 and now boasts a range of refurbished and new facilities including the New Jennie-Lee library. The centre runs many classes and boasts an impressive theatre for a small town, on which a variety of artists, groups, plays, musical, poets and drama productions regularly appear.
The town is also entertained by Lochgelly Town Hall, which is now establishing itself as a venue for live music. Rubber Stamp Promotions hold regular events at the venue, with bands such as The Vivians and Sergeant playing there in 2009.
There is quarter mile oval racing track just outside the town known as Thunder Valley Raceway. The circuit hosted the 2013 Superstox World Championship.
To tackle issues of multiple deprivation in the town various organisations such as the Coalfields Regeneration Trust have been given funding monies to distribute locally via community-based groups such as social enterprises, charities and voluntary groups.
The Lochgelly Community Council holds meetings, on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, to discuss issues affecting Lochgelly, from planning issues to general issues representative of the local community. All meetings are open to the public. The Community Council is made up of local members of the Lochgelly Community and also include local politicians in attendance from the SNP (Ian Chisolm) and Labour (Mark Hood). Monthly minutes from the meetings are available in the Lochgelly Library.
The Lochgelly Community Development Forum (LCDF), until early 2011 known as the Lochgelly Community Regeneration Forum, is a voluntary group representing the interests of the local community and providing a forum for raising local issues with Fife Council. The LCDF publish a 2 sided glossy newsletter, The Voice, which is delivered to every home in Lochgelly. This replaced a full magazine, designed for free by a locally based not-for-profit Social Enterprise (Subliminal Directions), now closed.
Mooth O the Yooth, is a local non-profit group, managed by and for local youths, with support from Fife Council workers, community wardens and community police officers. The 'Moothies' aim to provide and set up activities for other youths in the area. Activities and successes include arranging the 'Bairns Ball' (a youth disco), which is held on a monthly basis in Lochgelly. The Moothies obtained a Youth Shelter (an open steel construction, similar to a bus shelter, with a seating area and roof to provide some shelter), located at the bottom of Lochgelly Public Park. The shelter has since been vandalised.
In January 2010 'Loch of Shining Waters', an online not-for-profit community platform, was launched. It allows members of the local community to publish articles about Lochgelly, raise issues of concern and find out more about local issues. The aim is to release all material under a Creative Commons Licence, provide information about Lochgelly and the issues affecting the town and provide tutorials covering a wide range of technologies, such as using open source scripts for gaining a web presence, as well as articles on computer and online safety.
The Royal Oak Community Club provides affordable venue hire for many smaller groups in the local community, such as the Lochgelly Community Council, dance groups and meals for the elderly but the work they do is currently in a limited capacity due to the restrictions of their facilities. Having recently achieved charitable status and social enterprise status they plan to redevelop their building with a complete upgrade of facilities. During the refurbishment works they will be seeking temporary premises for the Lochgelly community to use.
Fife Ethylene Plant
Approximately 4 km from Lochgelly is the Fife Ethylene Plant, known locally as Mossmorran and run by ExxonMobil. This is one of Europe's largest ethylene plants and is bordered by the communities of Lochgelly, Lumphinnans, Cowdenbeath and Auchtertool.
There is local concern over the impacts Mossmorran has on the local communities regarding flaring events, noise pollution, light pollution, vibrations, safety, health and environmental impacts. There are also supporters of the development.
ExxonMobil invest in the local area through community schemes, such as the Links programme, which provides additional funding to the majority of schools in the local communities surrounding the complex.
Wind farm development
Installation of the first wind turbine of nine at the Little Raith wind farm, south of Lochgelly, was completed in September 2012. The farm is 1.6 km south of the nearest houses in Lochgelly and 1.3 km from Cowdenbeath. It is Fife's first commercial wind farm and is immediately to the north of the Fife Ethylene Plant.
In 2010 Lochgelly participated in the Lochgelly Charrette, led by designer Andrés Duany. The Lochgelly Charrette was the only charrette in Scotland to be led by the local authority.
The Charrette process has identified areas in need of regeneration within the town centre and aims to improve the central area of Lochgelly by regenerating existing walkways and buildings. It included a review of all design-based policies, simplifying the mechanisms to achieve good design for planning zones, cross departmental working with the transportation services so proposals can work towards the Scottish Government policy statement 'Designing for Streets'.
There has been much local criticism of the Lochgelly Charrette. It received criticisms from the Community Council and the Lochgelly Development Forum for ignoring them on specific issues. There were objections to the halting of plans for a supermarket with petrol station in favour of plans for a smaller store objected. There was also criticism of the removal of Lochgelly Golf Course and other green areas for housing developments.
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