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Shale Villages


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Home > Companies & Works > Company Housing > Starlaw Rows

Starlaw Rows

Location 55.890264, -3.587283; between Bathgate and Livingston show in map
Former parish and county Parish of Bathgate, Linlithgowshire
Current local authority area West Lothian
Construction history Probably built c.1868
Ownership history Uphall Mineral Oil Co
Uphall Mineral Oil Co. Ltd.
Uphall Oil Company Ltd,
West Lothian Oil Co. Ltd.
Wm Fraser, leased to Pumpherston Oil Co. Ltd
Demolition history Demolished late 1930's, other than Starlaw Cottage.
Current status of site Agriculture

Starlaw Rows were probably constructed to house those employed at Boghall Shale Oil Works and associated Starlaw Mine. Maps suggest there were two rows with six two-room homes, one row with eight two-room homes and two rows of single room dwellings with four and five homes. A larger building at the west end of the rows, perhaps an office or officials house, appears to survive incorporated into Starlaw Cottage.


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

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To Builders, Joiners &c. CONTRACTORS wanted to take down Twelve Workman's Brick Houses at Boghall Works near Bathgate, and reerect same at Uphall Oil Works. Intending offerers will have the opportunity of inspecting the present buildings and plans and specification for the new houses at Boghall Works on Tuesday 19th ult at 12'oclock noon. These must be lodged with Manager, Uphall Oil Works, on or before 20th.

Lanarkshire Upper Ward Examiner, 16th July 1881

GENTLEMEN,—I beg to report that in my regular inspection as Sanitary Inspector in Bathgate, villages and parishes generally, …..One of the exceptions of this rule is the village of Starlaw. The ditches in front of the houses in these rows are kept in a most filthy state, putrid matter and stagnant water filling them and causing a most disgusting smell. As you, gentlemen, are aware, we had a fatal ease of small-pox during the winter in said rows, since which scarlet fever has been prevalent in the village. I submit that the West Lothian Oil Company should employ a scavenger, as is done by other companies in mining villages, to look after the cleansing of these ditches and removal of nuisances.

The most serious drawback, however, to the sanitary condition of the village, is the want of water for dietetic and domestic use, the only supply being from an open ditch, which comes out of side of public road between Starlaw Rows and Stable Rows. The supply is small and often dirty, and I suspect impregnated with impurities from the fields and farm-steading of Starlaw. The tenants in these rows at one time got water from the farm of Tailend, but for some reason the supply has been cut off by the farmer there. I have for several months been in communication with the managers of the West Lothian Company, with the view to their providing a proper supply of water for their workmen at Starlaw, but I regret that nothing has yet been done to supply this much needed want.

Lanarkshire Upper Ward Examiner, 21st August 1886

FATAL ACCIDENT. Yesterday while Annie Allan, a girl about fourteen years of age, selecting or cleaning bricks at some old houses at Starlaw, Bathgate, which are being taken down, one of the gables fell upon her, crushing her very severely, and causing almost instantaneous death.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 15th September 1881

Deans work has been stopped during the last five years, during which time most of the houses at Deans and Starlaw Rows became vacant. With the new prospect, (of opening Seafield works) the most of these houses have again been occupied.

Linlithgowshire Gazette 26th December 1896

At Starlaw the rows consist of thirty houses, twenty of which consist of a room and kitchen, and ten consist of a single apartment. Coal-cellars are provided, but no washhouses. The rental is 2s. 9d. and 1s. 10 1/2d. per week respectively, inclusive of rates. Water is supplied by stand-pipes. The privies and ash-pits are very unsatisfactory. There are four privies for the thirty houses. The sewage is by open channel.These houses are old, and of a poor type, and ought to be replaced by a much better standard at once. We understand these houses are leased by the Pumpherston Oil Company, and they certainly are by far the most unsatisfactory of this Company's houses.

Theodore K. Irvine, Report on the Housing Conditions in the Scottish Shale Field, 1914.

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