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Shale Villages


A Recognised Collection of National Importance

Home > Companies & Works > Shale Villages > Oakbank


Location 55.883090, -3.474203; about a mile south of Midcalder. show in map
Former parish and county Parish of Kirknewton, Edinburghshire
Current local authority area West Lothian
Construction history Built between c.1865 and c.1890
Ownership history Oakbank Oil Company Ltd (Old), Oakbank Oil Company Ltd (New)
Demolition history Progressively demolished during 1950's, final home demolished in 1984
Current status of site Woodland


A substantial village constructed to serve the Oakbank Oil Works. In 1868 Oakbank consisted of two two-storey blocks with six two-room homes on each level, and one single storey row of seven two-room homes. A number of temporary houses or huts also existed, presumably to house those engaged in constructing the oil works.

By 1890 one further block of two-storey houses had been built with eight homes on each level. Most housing however was of single storey back-to-back construction; in total four rows of eight and five rows of ten were built. At the north end of the village there were four rows of more conventional "through houses", each with six homes. Sculleries and attic bedrooms were subsequently fitted to many homes.

The village had a school, institute, bowling green and football pitch.


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

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AN UNSANITARY VILLAGE - Kirknewton Local Authority presently petitioned the sheriff at Edinburgh regarding the village of Oakbank, belonging to the Oakbank Oil Company, whose sanitary condition they complained was in an unsatisfactory state. The company denied this, and the matter was remitted to Dr Littlejohn, who drew up a report. Sheriff Rutherford, after considering this, finds that a nuisance within the meaning of the Public Health Act exists at Oakbank and ordains the company to erect the buildings recommended by Dr Littlejohn, to discontinue the use of the present ashpits, and to send a cart through the village once a day to remove refuse. The Local Authority received expenses. Edinburgh Evening News, 12th May 1890

Oakbank Village lies to the south of Mid Calder, about one mile distant. There are some 165 houses in Oakbank belonging to the Oakbank Oil Company. These houses are in rows, built of brick, and consist of room and kitchen, or kitchen and attic. There are three single-apartment houses, but two of them were empty when we visited the village. All these houses have coal-cellars, and there are wash-houses for every four tenants. The water is got from stand-pipes. Ash-pipes and privies are provided. A few houses have gardens. The rental is 2s. per week, inclusive of local and county rates. The Company provide iron frames for the beds. We understand that water-closets are likely to be provided for these houses at an early date. An Institute, bowling green, and football pitch are made good use of by the workmen, for which they pay a small subscription weekly. There are 190 houses in Oakbank, and 240 in East Calder, with an approximate population of 1950 persons. Theodore K. Irvine, Report on the Housing Conditions in the Scottish Shale Field, 1914.

Oakbank: Demolition has been completed with the exception of site clearance to North West side of the Main Road. In the remainder of the village, 13 houses have been officially closed, at present 5 houses are empty. Houses in poor condition to be closed when vacated. Purchaser of allotment ground may be interested in one block over on the South side. Normal repairs to be carried out on the occupied houses. Meeting held at Middleton Hall on 9th September 1958 to review position of house properties etc.


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