Scottish shale Scottish shale

Muldron (lands)

Alternative names:
West Calder, Midlothian
Local authority:
West Lothian

A substantial area of upland moor on the northern slopes of the Gladsmuir hills, which were managed for many years for game shooting. The northern margins of the lands were cultivated around Muldron farm. The Edinburgh to Ayr turnpike road was built through the lands in about 1828. The landowner during much of the industrial period was John Graham of Muldron

A seam of good quality Curdly (or Curly) Ironstone outcropped on the hillside which was exposed where burns cut into the ground. The Wilsontown Iron Co. might have been worked some ironstone here at the very start of the 19th century, but significant mining activity only began in about 1842 when the minerals were leased by the Shotts Iron Company, who worked the phosphorous-rich ore in a succession of shallow pits and opencast workings. It was recorded that in 1851, four pits were still in production. The 1855 OS maps shows over 35 abandoned ironstone pits, along with one or two pits that might have still been active at that time. The maps also shows a network of paths, presumably for the wagons and packhorses that carried the calcinated ore to Shotts iron works, and also the Muldron rows, where many miners and their families would have lived..

By 1865, the mineral lease of the lands had been taken on by the Coltness Iron Company who sunk a succession of deeper pits further down the slope of the hills. The Caledonian Railway's Muldron branch was construted in about 1870 serve the ironstone pits, and a network of tramways were laid to link pits with the standard-gauge siding. The Coltness Iron Company closed their last pit in about 1881.

See articles: The Iron Men of Muldron, The Curdly Iron Pits of the Gladsmuir Hills


CALEDONIAN RAILWAY—THE CLELAND & MID-CALDER LINE, .An inspection of this newly formed line between Edinburgh and Glasgow has just been made by the Chairman and directors of the Caledonian Railway Company accompanied Mr E. L. J. Blyth, the engineer and Mr H. C. Bell, the resident engineer, the inspection was, we believe, that the line will be opened for goods traffic on the Ist January 1869, and for passenger traffic shortly afterwards....... the Muldron Branch, which opens up the ironstone fields of Muldron, at present wrought by the Coltness Iron Company, and also the fields of Handaxwood, the property of Mr Hare of Calder Hall, the ironstone of which is worked by the Calder and Govan Iron Company, and the limestone by Mr George Hay of Levenseat;

Falkirk Herald, 3rd December 1868


Dull Trade.—We understand that Mouldron Works, whioh belong to Coltness Company, have stopped. All contracts, &c., finished last Saturday. This will be felt to a great extent in our own locality.

Wishaw Press, 24th November 1877


CONTRACTORS Wanted, to Sink a Pit at Muldron, near Crofthead, for the Coltness Iron Co. Particulars on application to George M'Culloch, Muldron. It is not binding to accept of the lowest or any offer. Coltness Iron Works. By Newmains, 17th April 1872

Hamilton Advertiser, 20th April 1872


CROFTHEAD Assault with intent. On Saturday last Robt Somerville, pit roadsman, residing at Muldron in the parish of West Calder, was apprehended here on above charge. It appears that two girls aged respectively 15 and 12 years, daughters of James Forrest labourer residing No 4 Iron Stone Pit were sent by their mother on a message to Fauldhouse, and while returning home met the accused on the road leading to their house, who followed them for some distance, and when he got them away from the houses criminally assaulted them. The cries of the girls brought the police to their assistance. When the accused heard the police coming ran off, but after a good chase he was apprehended and locked up. He was conveyed to Linlithgow the following Monday, examined before the Sheriff, andvcommitted to the prison

West Lothian Courier 25th January 1879


From the east-and-west fault at Bankhead southwards to the Gladsmuir Hills the outcrop is marked by a litter of old refuse heaps. Ore was wrought here for the long-abandoned ironworks at Wilsontown (ceased 1842), for the Shotts Iron Co., and for Messrs. Wm. Dixon & Co. The workings of the last-mentioned company did not stop until 1901

Geological Survey; Special reports on the mineral resources of Great Britain Vol XI The Iron Ores of Scotland 1915