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Shale Villages


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Happy Land

Location 55.850559, -3.576460; within West Calder show in map
Former parish and county Parish of West Calder
Current local authority area Edinburghshire
Construction history c.1868
Ownership history Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd
Demolition history Demolished 1930's?
Current status of site 1970's housing (Northfield Court), previously post-war prefabs, (Northfield Cottages)


A substantial addition to West Calder constructed by Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company to house their mining staff. Addiewell, about a mile to the west, was built at about the same time to house the company's oil works staff. The streets of Happy Land were named after Scottish rivers. Study of OS maps suggests:


Ordnance Survey maps and aerial photo reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the National Library of Scotland.

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" These houses belong to Young's Mineral Oil Company, and consist of 95 single- and 64 double-apartment houses. The rent is 1s. 9d. and 2s. 3d. per week for single- and double-apartment houses respectively. They are old houses and of a very poor type. Single-apartment houses have bricked floors. Where wood floors are substituted, the tenants have to remove the clay and dirt, and 1d. per week is added to the rent. There are no coal-cellars, wash houses, or sculleries. Privies are provided, but the conditions are anything but satisfactory. There are four stand-pipes for 159 houses. Refuse is removed daily by the Company." Theodore K. Irvine, Report on the Housing Conditions in the Scottish Shale Field, 1914.

"There is a new quarter of the town towards the north west , bearing the euphonious title of "The Happy Land", applied to it be the wits of the place. The houses are in rows, one behind another, about ten yards apart like lines of soldiers in the form of an oblong square. The houses have no gardens, but apparently were built with more regard to the utilization of the feu ground than to the health and comfort of the tenants." "Silvester Sprightly" writing in the West Lothian Courier, June 30th 1877.


The name of the Happy Land has been officially changed to Northfield Cottages, Midlothian Advertiser, 29th November 1946

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