Lochgelly is found in 16th century records and is probably much older. Initially the town was a weaving and agricultural village but with the discovery of first ironstone and then coal, the town developed rapidly into one of the main centres of coal mining in Fife.
"There is in my lands of Lochhead, Lochgellie, 4 coalls and a mynd wrought to them all be my Father in anno 1646" 2nd Earl of Wemyss [quoted in Auchterderran - a parish history]
In "Auchterderran A Parish History", Rev Houston relates a story told about the early coal workings of the 17th century - A woman, new to the district, was thinning turnips in the fields when a miner emerged. Seeing his blackened face she fled to Lochgelly announcing that she had seen "the Deevil". The neighbours returned with her to the areas armed with forks and graips where they were met by Jen. Davidson's muckle man."
1763 - colliers earned 2s. 6d. per day compared to 8d. to 10d. for day labourers and 10d. or 1s. for free colliers in Newcastle
1791 - Colliers earned 10s. per day
Lochgelly was described in 1st Statistical Account as only village in parish with population of 342. The town had one church - a Burgher Congregation (which eventually became United Presbyterian)
1830 - Lochgelly benefit society set up.
1831 - census gives population of Auchterderran parish as 786 males and 804 females
1836 - 100 tons of coal a day were produced and 50 people employed.
1837 - Population in 2nd statistical account is 612
1847 - Mining of ironstone and manufacture of iron already in village and blast furnaces were built in this year.
1851 - Lochgelly Iron Co granted a lease on minerals of Lochgelly estate
1851 - Population 879
1856 - Lochgelly parish is separated as a quoad sacra parish from Auchterderran. On the 30th of January 1856 Andrew Landale, the Manager of Lochgelly Iron Works appeared before Auchterderran Kirk Session asking that Lochgelly be given a minister.
In July 1856 Rev. Andrew Wilson was ordained minister in Lochgelly's Chapel-at-Ease. By 1859 it was recorded that Lochgelly had built "a handsome church which had cost £1,100 and was now free of debt".
1857 - July 19 Free Church opened, named Macainsh Church after its first minister Rev. Peter Macainsh
1860 - Small gas works was et up and gas lighting introduced to Lochgelly
1864 - May 22nd United Presbyterian Church was opened
1865 - By this date there were numerous shallow pits mining the abundant black ironstone deposits in the area.
1865 - The co-operative society began in the area with a shop on the High Street. The society expanded to have branches and premises in Lochgelly and Lochore, Glencraig, Bowhill & Dundonald.
Figures given in the 3rd statistical account illustrate the growth of the society from 1865 to 1948:
Membership 1865 = 323 , in 1948 = 8204
Trade 1865 = £936, in 1948 = £224 710
Annual valuation of property 1865 = £9, in 1948 = £3275
Employees 1865 = 1, in 1948 = 388
Nowadays the co-op is all but gone, the building on Main St is now flats.
1866 - Lochgelly Horticultural Society set up
1872 - Lochgelly Iron & Coal Co formed with a capital of £100,000. After this time coal mining predominated. For a while the iron industry continued using imported iron but eventually by 1875 the blast furnaces had stopped working
1872 - Lochgelly school board constituted. Before schools were run by the Lochgelly Iron Co and a subscription school. The subscription school eventually became the East School
1877 - Lochgelly became a police burgh
1877 - RC Chapel built
1881 - Town got a gravitational water supply. Prior to this the towns supply came from more than 20 wells, many contaminated.
1886 - A limited liability gas co was set up to cope with increased demand in the town
1892 - Town Council formed
The mid 1890s were a period of huge development in the coal industry in Lochgelly and the surrounding area. Main pits during this time were the Mary, Melgund, Jenny Gray, Arthur on Lochgelly estate, Dora and Lady on Little Raith leasehold The Minto was sunk at Brigghills, Nellie was reopened and the Mary sunk lower. Annual out put was nearly 500,000 tons
Total coal production in the Lochgelly area from 1893 to 1946 was 44 million tons