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Shale Villages


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Home > Companies & Works > Company Housing > Winchburgh


Location 55.958277, -3.458162; in the village of Winchburgh show in map
Former parish and county Parish of Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire
Current local authority area West Lothian
Construction history Built c.1902 - c.1910
Ownership history Oakbank Oil Company Ltd, Scottish Oils Ltd
Demolition history All extant
Current status of site Houses improved and modernised; an area of planning control


Constructed to serve Niddry Castle Oil Works which opened c.1903. Houses were built mainly in rows of eight ot ten homes. Unusually the end houses of each row had two rooms plus scullery, all other houses had three rooms (parlour, kitchen, and bedroom) plus scullery. The village is arranged in a number of parallel streets:

Scottish Oils sold most of the houses between 1963 and 65; some to individuals, others to West Lothian County Council.


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

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It seems that Winchburgh to be the leading place for sport in the district. We hear that villagers are going to be treated by the Oakbank Oil Company to a bowling green, cricket pitch, quoiting ground, football field, and artificial pond for curlers. Linlithgowshire Gazette, 8th March 1907

The Oakbank Oil Company are presently erecting between 60 and 70 workmen's houses, principally of two apartments, at Winchburgh. With regard to the sanitary arrangements I have had correspondence with the Company, and also a meeting with the Managing Director. I am glad to see each house fitted with boiler and large sink, water closet, a galvanised dust-bin and coal-cellar. When completed these houses will be the most modern miner's dwellings in the District. It is said, and I believe the truth that the moral and social conditions of men is governed principally be their environment. If this is so, we will naturally expect a high standard of morality amongst the miners in Winchburgh, for their dwellings leave little or nothing to be desired. Report by A.M. Smith, District Sanitary Inspector, quoted in the West Lothian Courier, March 27th 1908

The Oakbank Oil Company own over 230 houses built in rows at Winchburgh. 161 houses consist of parlour (12 ft by 12 ft), kitchen (15 ft by 11 ft, also bed-recesses), bedroom (12 ft by 10.5 ft), scullery with boiler, sink, water-closet, and coal-cellar; height of rooms, 10.5 ft; rental, 4/6. weekly, inclusive of rates. There are thirty houses with room and kitchen with same conveniences as above houses, rental 3/6; also fourteen houses of two apartments, but larger in size, with all conveniences as above, cost 4/- weekly, inclusive of rates. These are all houses of a good type There is a good drainage and water supply. A few electric lamps are erected at centre of rows. The refuse is deposited in dustbins, which are emptied three times weekly. Drying greens are provided, but no gardens Owing to the great scarcity of houses, there are a considerable number of young married couples living in rooms, and numerous cases of two families living in one house exist. A dwelling-house has been converted into billiard and reading rooms. In Winchburgh village there are 313 houses in all, with a population of 1752. Theodore K. Irvine, Report on the Housing Conditions in the Scottish Shale Field, 1914.


At a meeting of Linlithgow District Committee, Mr R Crichton, Philpstoun, reported that several members of the committee appointed to look into the housing needs of the district had examined specimens of Messrs G and T Weir's steel houses at Glasgow. It was stated that the cost of each of these houses would be roughly £410, but that Messrs Weir had stated that if 100 were bought the price of each would be £400, inclusive of all work except drainage, water supply, fencing and roads. The District Committee agreed to adopt the scheme, with the following allocation of houses; - Kirkliston, 14; Winchburgh, 32; Threemiletown 20; Muirhouses, 24; and Linlithgow Bridge, 10. Aberdeen Journal 22nd July 1925

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