Kirkcaldy was one of the main centres of the Scottish pottery industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The town had four potteries that made many products, from everyday items to larger ornamental pieces.
Fife Council Museums has a collection of around 1,000 pottery items made in Kirkcaldy. The most famous was Wemyss Ware, made at the Fife Pottery by Robert Heron & Sons. Hand painted designs were inspired by chief designer Karel Nekola who came to Fife from Bohemia. Patterns often featured flowers, fruit, insects and animals – the latter included pottery in the shapes of pigs and cats.
The Fife Pottery also made a range of transfer-printed pottery as did the largest of the Kirkcaldy factories – the Links Pottery. This started in the 18th century and the museum collection includes examples of Links transfer printed, hand painted and sponge ware pottery. A variety of the Links Pottery marks can be seen on bases of its products. One of the most interesting pieces is a large stoneware garden chair in the foyer of Kirkcaldy Museum.
Also in the collection are products made by the two smaller Kirkcaldy potteries – the Rosslyn and Sinclairtown Potteries. You can see some of these, along with other local pottery, in the Café Wemyss in Kirkcaldy Museum & Art Gallery. The Sinclairtown pottery collection includes a large number of shards and unglazed pottery excavated from dumps at the pottery site in 1991. It specialised in teapots – reputedly making 700 dozen a day!
As well as the pottery itself, Kirkcaldy Museum also has photographs of pottery workers and a rare mid 19th century Links Pottery catalogue.