The influence of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie can be found throughout Dunfermline.
His statue stands prominently in Pittencrieff Park – known locally as ‘The Glen’. It’s a park he purchased in 1902 and then gifted to the people of Dunfermline in a ceremony the following year.
His name also features on many facilities in the town – Carnegie Dunfermline Library, Carnegie Sports Centre, Carnegie College and the theatre, Carnegie Hall.
Carnegie was born in Dunfermline on November 25, 1835, and his birthplace is now a museum in the town.
By the age of 13, however, his family emigrated to the United States, settling in Pennsylvania, where he started work in a factory, before becoming a telegraph messenger and then taking a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad. While working for the railroad, Carnegie made a number of investments, most successfully in oil, and developed other business interests.
By the 1870s, his focus was on the steel industry. His business revolutionised steel production in the USA, as his plants used new methods and technology to make the manufacturing process easier, faster and more productive.
By 1889, Carnegie Steel Corporation was the largest of its kind in the world, although it wasn’t without controversy. A strike at the company’s plant in Homestead in 1892 was a particular low point in industrial relations between the management and workers. The company wanted to cut employees’ wages, a move which led to a strike which turned violent and resulted in guards being brought in to deal with the unrest.
In 1901, at the age of 65, Carnegie decided to sell his business to the United State Steel Corporation and concentrated on his philanthropic work.
One area in which he had a significant impact was in the creation of libraries, and, in fact, this work began long before the sale of his steel business.
From a young age, Carnegie had been an avid reader, and this clearly had an influence on his donations. The first Carnegie library opened in Dunfermline in 1883, followed by Grangemouth six years later, shortly before Braddock, the first Carnegie library in the USA.
Further libraries followed in Scotland in towns stretching from Wick to Dumfries, with others opening in the rest of the UK, other European countries, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In 1901, he gave around $5 million to the New York Public Library to enable several branches to be opened. In all, his donations resulted in the creation of around 2800 ‘Carnegie’ libraries around the world.
As well as libraries, Carnegie used much of his wealth on projects related to world peace, education, scientific research and the arts, building the famous Carnegie Hall in New York.
His fortunes were used to found the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
By the time of his death on August 11, 1919, Carnegie had given away to charities and foundations about $350 million – almost 90 per cent of his fortune.
The statue of Carnegie in Pittencrieff Park was erected to commemorate his gift of the park to the public. It was paid for by public subscription and was erected while Carnegie was still alive.
The Louise Carnegie Gates, named after his wife, at the entrance of the park leading to the statue, were erected in 1929.
The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust is currently supporting a £1.6 million transformation of Pittencrieff Park.