Newburgh, in north Fife, on the banks of the River Tay, has had a settlement or a village on the present site from a period much earlier than the end of the twelfth century, but it was at this time that the village grew in importance, due to the founding of Lindores Abbey, and was named in a Royal Charter as Newburgh.
Until the end of the Eighteenth Century, there were no made up roads in Newburgh, wheeled carriages were seldom seen. The main industries at this time were farming and handloom weaving. In the 1800's there was a boom in municipal building and in the mid 1800s the railway came to Newburgh and the social life of the town grew with no less than thirty five pubs. The harbor was extremely busy -- the main employment being salmon and sprat fishing. Forty boats were in service at that time. The village boasted of no less than four schools.
40 years later Newburgh was enjoying a reputation as a holiday resort. Pleasure steamers came from Dundee and many people still remember the town echoing with the noise of holiday makers. After the second world war the pleasure steamers went into decline with the advent of the touring bus and the post war population boom meant that less houses were available as holiday homes.
A tradition which started in 1864 is the annual procession of the Caledonian Lodge of Oddfellows. The Oddfellows parade by torchlight through the town, wearing costume, mask and creating merriment by their antics. A more communal event which was revived in 1962 after a gap of 14 years, is the Highland games, held annually in the Tayside Park.
Rushes are to be found growing all along the banks of the Tay and once they were utilized as roofing material for many of the cottages in Newburgh. Sadly today there remains only one example at 165 High Street.
In the past it was the custom among handloom weavers on marrying to have their initials and a heart cut in the lintel of their door. The Stone to be seen at No. 60 High Street, bears the names of Janet Williamson and Thomas Anderson who was a sea captain, as can be seen on the design.
The stone, from which the Bear Tavern takes its name, was originally set into the abbots residence at Lindores Abbey. The 'bear and ragged staff is a device of the Earls of Warwick, and as a crozier or pastoral staff is evident above the now obliterated arms of Warwick, it may he assumed that the stone was caused to be made by Guy, the first Abbot who was a cadet (re brother or son) of that family.
The origin of the legend of the bear goes back to the time of Arthur and the round table. One of his knights was Arthgal whose name in the British language was Arsh meaning bear. The ragged staff is attributed to Morvidus, an earl of the same family who slew a giant with a young tree which he had pulled up by the roots.
An extract from Westwood's Directory for the counties of Fife & Kinross published 1862.
"Newburgh parish forms the boundary of the county at its northwest corner. It is bounded by the River Tay, Abdie, Abernethy, Auchtermuchty and Collessie. The parish enjoys good seaward communication through the port of Newburgh, is traversed by the turnpike road from Cupar to Perth, and has a station on the Perth fork of the E P & D Railway.
The main part of the Royal Burgh consists of one long street, a range of houses fronting the harbour, and a number of lanes leading down to the shore. A modern suburb on the south, Mount Pleasant, is in Abdie parish. Both the shops and the principal dwelling houses indicate considerable taste and prosperity on the part of the owners. Its situation on the Tay is exceedingly pleasant. The town house, with spire, was erected in 1808. The linen trade is the chief employer in the town. Much trade in grain is carried on, with a weekly fair for corn.
The harbour consists of a long pier parallel to the river with 4 jetties at right angles to it. There are 20 vessels belonging to the port, of the aggregate burden of 1256 tons; and one packet is regularly engaged in conveying raw material and manufactured produce between the town and Dundee. The principal exports are lime, grain and potatoes; while coal, timber and other miscellaneous goods form the imports. There is a parish church in the burgh, and also 2 UP Churches. There is a Free Church for Newburgh and Abdie situated in Abdie parish."
Newburgh is ideally located for easy trips to the St Andrews, Dunfermline, Culross, Perth, Edinburgh, Falkland Palace, and all of historic Fife and Perthshire.