Scottish shale Scottish shale

Woodmuir (lands)

West Calder, Midlothian
Local authority:
West Lothian

The lands of Woodmuir (including Rashiehill Muir) were largely moorland pasture, sloping down from the county boundary at the summit of Hendry's Corse. The farmhouses of Woodmuir and Rashiehill Muir farms lay at lower part of the slope, close to the northern boundary of the lands. The Edinburgh to Lanark turnpike road passed across the moors on the upper parts of the lands, running generally parallel to the Skolie (or Longford) Burn.

Coal seems to have been worked in a number of small pits either side of the Skolie burn; probably between about 1820 and 1860, see Woodmuir - early pits (south). A couple of shafts were also sunk prior to 1850 close to Woodmuir farm; see Woodmuir - early pits (north).

In the 1850's the lands of Woodmuir and Rashiehill Muir were owned by D. Robertson Souter, and the minerals to the southern part of the lands let to Thomas Thornton of Crofthead. By around 1860, the combined estate of Woodmuir was owned by Lord Belhaven (and subsequently his heirs), who already had substantial mining interests in his Wishaw estate. Proposals, in 1864, for a new Caledonian Railway line linking Midcalder and Cleland included a branch to serve Lord Belhaven's pits at Woodmuir. This was finally built in about 1869. Two pits, (presumably Woodmuir No.1 and Woodmuir No.2) were offered for lease by Lord Belhaven's estate in 1870, having previously been operated by Messrs. Scott & Gilmour. By 1873 George E., John & Wm Darling were recorded as proprietors of the Woodmuir collieries but subsequently became the property of the Woodmuir Colliery Co. This company sunk Woodmuir No.3 and Woodmuir No.4 pits. There were also some shallow coal workings close of Woodmuir farm. The pits were served by the colliery company's mineral railway, which zig-zagged up the hillside to gain height. This line also served banks of coking kilns at No.2 pit, and sandstone quarries near Rashiehill Muir. Forty-two worker's houses, a store, offices and a company school were built Blinkbonny (also referred to as Woodmuir). Worker's rows were also constructed close to Woodmuir farm. The coalfield was largely exhausted by the 1890's and the final pit; No.4, was dismantled in 1896

The Woodmuir Coal Co was reconstructed as a limited company in 1895, and developed a new pit Woodmuir No.5 & 6 in the lands of Blackhill


The structure of the Woodmuir portion of the coal-field is very simple. From the Leven Seat fault to Longford Farm the general dip is W.N.W., but on the south side of the Caledonian Railway it changes to west, while the coal crops strike N. and S. and are brought nearer together in consequence of the increased dip, of 15° or 20° The field is intersected by several cross faults, the more important of which will be shortly mentioned. On the south- east side of the Lanark road the outcrop of the Main Coal has been proved by crop pits, from the western side of Hendreys Course to the Bank Head dislocation, which strikes nearly east and west, crossing Skolie Burn about 630 yds. south of Blinkbonny and passing westwards close to Bank Head. The southern portion of the Woodmuir field was wrought some years ago by means of a shaft 40 fms. deep, and the workings proved several N.W. and S.E. faults. The colliery is now dismantled. On the south side of the Bank Head fault, in the Skolie Burn, an "ingoing eye" marks the position of the Wilsontown Main Coal, and a little distance to the east a pit reached the Wilsontown Gas Coal at 8 fms.



To be SOLD by private bargain, in whole or in lots, THE LANDS of WOODMUIR, DRUMABEN and BADLEITH, along with RASHIHILL MUIR,.and COAL and LIME therein, which minerals are supposed to be of great value. They contain about 300 arable, 488 hill and meadow pasture, of the best in the county, well watered, and all capable of very great improvement; eight acres of planting, 12 years old; good roads, and many fine situations for building upon. Distant from Edinburgh 20 miles, and 12 from Lanark, on the Glasgow road, in the parish of West Calder. Alexander Black, one of the tenants at Woodmuir, will shew the lands; and for farther particulars apply to Mr John Smith, writer in Bathgate

Caledonian Mercury, 23rd April 1825


Coal has been dug at various places (in the parish), and a supply of a tolerably good kind had been got for several years at Woodmuir, about three miles and a half west of the village.

New Statistical Account - Parish of West Calder, Rev. William Learmonth, 1845


A colliery on the lands of Wood Muir, it was opened about 12 years ago and about 10 colliers were engaged in the mine, the average daily prodiction is about 14 tons. The seam lies about 11 fathoms from the surface and is about 472 feet thick. This pit has the advantage of a natural fall for the water and the coals are brought to the surface by horse power. The colliery is on the estate of Robert Souter but it is the property of Thomas Thornton he having purchased the minerals.

Midlothian OS Name Book, 1852-53 - OS1/11/42/8



To be Sold by Public Roup within the Star Hotel Linlithgow upon FRIDAY the 3d day next at One o’clock Afternoon:

  1. ESTATE of MEIKLE BLACKBURN Parish of Livingston and County of LINLITHGOW containing 163 imperial acres or thereby with the Teinds which belonged to the deceased Thomas Balfour of Blackburn. Lands have mostly southern exposure are well watered and inclosed and sheltered with thriving Plantation. Coal, Lime, and Ironstone are found on the lands. This Property has been for upwards of 30 years in the hands of the Proprietor under a course of improvement in Draining, Liming, Green Cropping &c There is a Farm Steading with Cattle Sheds on the Lands, and several delightful situations for a Mansion-house The Property is situated within three miles of Livingston two of Bathgate 17 of Edinburgh, and is bounded to the South by the turnpike road from Edinburgh, and on the west by the turnpike road from the village of Blackburn to Bathgate
  2. All and Whole these PARTS and PORTIONS the lands of MUIRHOUSEDYKES and NETHERLONGFAULD and COMMONTY of WOODMUIR sometime possessed by John Gowans and afterwards by William Gowans with the thereto belonging now called Rashiehillmuir and Woodmuir which also belonged to Mr Balfour lying in the parish of West-Calder and county of Edinburgh and presently occupied by James Hamilton, William Smith, and William Russell. Lands extend to about 700 acres turnpike from Edinburgh to Lanark by Wishawton running through the centre of the property. William Bishop at Blackburn will that property and the Lands of Rashiehillmuir and Woodmuir will be shown by the tenants.

Further particulars be learned by applying to Mr Smith Writer in Bathgate or to J & J Mathie, Writers in Stirling, the last of whom are in possession of the Title-Deeds and articles of roup Stirling 12th July 1849

Stirling Observer, 2nd August 1849


FATAL ACCIDENT. - About two o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, while William Thornton, coal grieve or miner, at Burnhouses, West Calder, was employed sinking a shaft of a coal pit at Woodmuir, and when about thirty-six feet or therby from the surface, he came in contact with a quantity of foul air, and suffocated. Thomas Girdwood, labourer at Blinkbonny, having been passing at the time, was made aware of the circumstance, and descended the pit to attempt to rescue Thornton, but before assistance could be I rendered, he also unfortunately met the some fate.

North Briton, 21st May 1859


IV - The COLLIERY and MINERAL LEASE of WOODMUIR, near West Calder. 1st. The Two Pits, with the Machinery, Fittings, Plant, and Erections thereat, and the Quarry. 2d. The Sidings at the Pits, connecting the colliery with the Cleland and Midcalder Section of the Caledonian The Mineral Field extends to 400 Acres or thereby, and contains three or four workable Seams of Coal. It is well suited for supplying the Oil and other works in the West Calder, Bathgate and Broxburn districts,: also for the Edinburgh and Leith Markets. The Lordship and Fixed Rent - payable to the Trustees of the late Lord Belhaven – are moderate

Glasgow Evening Citizen, 22nd April 1870


WOODMUIR COLLIERIES TO LET. - THESE COLLIERIES, near West Calder, as formerly possessed by Messrs. Scott & Gilmour, will now be Let, by the Proprietor, for such a nunber of Years as may be arranged. Two Pits are sunk, and there are several Seams of considerable thickness which can be cheaply wrought, being drained to a great extent by a day-level. Both Pits are capable of yielding a large Output; and as the machinery, Plant, Fittings, and Erections are nearly complete, and are to be given over at a Valuation, the incoming Tenant would be able to begin at once to Work the Coal. A Brands Line connects the Pits with the Cleland and Mid-Calder Railway. The Mineral Field is very favourably situated for Markets, being about 18 miles from Edinburgh; and it is also well situated for supplying the Oil and other Works in the West Calder, Bathgate, and Broxburn districts. For further information, apply to Messrs. Lindsay Jamieson & Haldane, 24 St. Andrew Square Edinburgh; Mr. William Robertson, Civil and Mining Engineer, Glasgow; or to Mr. James Miller Wishaw. Wishaw Estate Office, July, 1870.

Glasgow Herald, 13th July 1870


TO LET OR SELL. WOODMUIR COLLIERY. This COLLIERY is now TO BE LET for such Term of Years and on such Conditions, as may be arranged. Sufficient House Accommodation for Workmen having now been Erected, the Works are in full Operation. Further information will be given, and Offers will be received, by Mr Miller, factor, Wishaw :Mr Wm.Robertson, C.E, 122 St Vincent Street, Glasgow; and Messrs Lindsay, Jamieson. and Haldane C.A., 24 St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh. Edinburgh, 12th February. 1873

North British Daily Mail, 17th February 1873


GAS COAL FIELD TO LET. The No. 2 MINERAL LOT on the WOODMUIR ESTATE extending to 150 Acres, or thereby, is now to let for a term of years as may be arranged. A Pit been sunk to the Gas Coal, a depth of 23 ½ fathoms, and it is found 8 inches thick with a fine free Coal under it: this seam is believed to underlie the whole area. There are also about 33 acres of the WILSONTOWN MAIN COAL lying solid in this Lot, it is expected that nearly 20 acres of the WOODMUIR MAIN COAL will be found workable near the surface. There is an old pit in this Lot, sunk to within a short distance of the the 300 yards to the dip of the present Pit. This Lot, will be connected by the Woodmuir Branch with the Cleland and Midcalder Section of the Caledonian Railway. For information and further particulars, apply to Messrs Lindsay, & Haldane C.A. 24 St Andrew Square. Edinburgh; Mr Miller, factor, Wishaw; or William Robertson & Smith, mining engineers, St Vincent Street, Glasgow.

North British Daily Mail, 2nd April 1874


WOODMUIR COLLIERY TO LET . The WOODMUIR COLLIERY, at present being worked by the Messrs Darling will be LET from Whitsunday next for such term as may be agreed on . This Colliery, which is situated four miles west of West Calder, is connected by a Branch Railway with the Cleland and Midcalder Line, and contains all the Seams of Coal found iu the district . The Machinery, &c ., maybe taken at a valuation. For further particulars apply to JAMES MILLER, Esq . Factor, Wishaw; Messrs WM. ROBERTSON & SMITH, M.E., 123 St Vincent Street, Glasgow; and Messrs LINDSAY, JAMIESON, & HALDANE, 21 St Andrew Square , Edinburgh, who will receive offers until the 15th December 1874

The Scotsman, 18th November 1874


Presentation - The little moorland community of nearly forty families at Woodmuir Colliery in the uplands of Calder parish does not often experience any exciting event. A flitting to or from, school examinations, a temporary rise of water in pit workings, a reduction in wages, or what is nearly as common, a change in managers, are among the principal matters of the interest. In the coal mines and the coking kilns &c. upwards sixty men and boys are pretty constantly employed. For several years many changes in the management has taken place and the latest has been the occasion of a hearty presentation. Mr Thomas Kerr certificated mining manager has been for about ten months in charge of the colliery, and his ability and agreeablenesss as a manager, and his courtesy and geniality as a private individual has won recognition due such gentlemanly qualities. As an illustration of his courteous sympathy with plain working men, it may be stated that a poor man out of work, and whom Mr.Kerr could not engage, got from him a kindly and polite refusal. To show that good manners and good management may go hand in hand, it may be added that during Mr Kerr’s tenure of office, the work has been fully as prosperous as formerly. On Friday evening last week a deputation consisting of Messrs Hamilton, pitheadman; Henderson, oversman; Miller, clerk; and Arklie, storeman, visited Mr Kerr and thereafter Mr Miller, in a neat and appropriate speech, handed to Mr Kerr a purse of money and a silver walking stick walking stick inscribed follows Thomas Kerr from Woodmuir workmen inscribed as follows — “Mr. Thomas Kerr, from Woodmuir workmem. - July 1886”. Mr Kerr was agreeably surprised to be made aware of the unexpected presents, and replied in a most appreciative and grateful manner. It may be added that both were most cordially received both by Mr and Mrs. Kerr

Hamilton Advertiser, 17th July 1886


SALE, BY PRIVATE BARGAIN, THE ESTATE of WOODMUIR, in the THE PARISH OF WEST CALDER. This Valuable Mineral Estate is situated about five miles south-west of the town of West-Calder, and lies about 500 yards south from the main line of Railway between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Holytown, a branch from which has been constructed to the Estate, with a continuation, belonging to the Proprietor, from it to the Coffiery. The Rental for 1893 was as follows :-Mineral Lordships, including interest on private railway, rent on workmen's houses, £1085 8s 4d; Quarry Rent, £30; Pasture Farms (extending about 910 acres), £289 2s 9d ; Shootings, £20. Total £1424 11s 1d. Further particulars may be had from Messrs Dundas. & Wilson, 16 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh; iu whose hands are the Titles; -or from Messrs William Robertson & Laird, M.E.. 123 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, who will exhibit a Plan of the Mineral Field. Edinburgh, 21st March, 1895

Glasgow Herald, 3rd April 1893


Small tragedies at Woodmuir (external link) The beehives of Woodmuir (external link)

  • Related file records