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Shale Villages


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Niddry Rows

Location 55.951864, -3.462541; between Broxburn and Winchburgh show in map
Former parish and county Parish of Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire
Current local authority area West Lothian
Construction history 1874, extended 1891
Ownership history Youngs Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd
Demolition history West Rows demolished c.1935, East Rows gradually demolished post war until c.1960
Current status of site Some villas and cottages remain, but the site of the rows has returned to agriculture


Constructed in open countryside to house the workforce of Hopetoun Oil Works, bings gradually encroached from the north and south until the western part of the village became enclosed within a dusty canyon. The 1890's OS map show three rows, each with twelve two-roomed homes in the west of the village, some larger buildings (the institute?) in the centre. To the east there was one row of eight single room homes and two rows of two room homes with fifteen and one with eighteen homes. By 1917 sculleries had been installed on most houses and one new row built with twelve two-room homes.

Houses in the west of the village, which lay between the two bings, were demolished in the 1930's. Houses in the eastern part were demolished during the 1950's and early 60's as homes fell vacant.


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

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"There are 96 houses owned by Young's Mineral Oil Co. in Niddry. Some 88 houses consist of room (12ft x 13ft), kitchen (12ft x 13ft), scullery (7.5ft x 6ft) with sink. There is a dry closet and coal cellar to each house. A wash-house is provided a few feet from the scullery door, where gravitation water is obtained for domestic use. Small gardens are also provided. Rent for 34 of these houses is from 2/5 to 2/11, while 54 houses are rented at 3/2 per week, inclusive of rates. There are 8 one apartment houses, rental 1/6 to 2/- weekly. Many of these houses are over 40 years built. Two houses have been converted into games and reading rooms. The total number of houses in Niddry is 118, the population is 690." Theodore K. Irvine, Report on the Housing Conditions in the Scottish Shale Field, 1914.

Niddry Village: Twenty-four houses have been officially closed. No block is completely empty to allow for demolition. The remaining houses are being closed when vacated. Every effort to be made to rehouse the tenants in Winchburgh or Broxburn. Rose Cottage, when vacant to be sold. Hazeldean; the occupier is interested in purchasing this house. Meeting held at Middleton Hall on 9th September 1958 to review position of house, properties etc.

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