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  Emily Ann Austin Borrowman

  John Meikle Dickson

  John Drew

  Hamilton Family, Longridge

  Alexander Sim Kelso

  Robert Lamb

  Thomas Law

  Thomas Clapperton Lumdsen

  Mary McCallum

  James Henderson Mechie

  Ronald and William Meek

  Cis and John Mungle

  Thomas Smith

  William Steele

  Atholl Archibald Stuart

  Minnie Tennant

  Hugh Justin Tweedie

Linlithgowshire (West Lothian’s official name until 1925) was a pleasant county - fertile and well-wooded with gentle rolling hills in the north of the county, though bleak and moorish in the south. It was among the smallest counties in Scotland, and was the county with 'the lowest highest point' - the Knock near Bathgate.

Early industries provided some employment but were small-scale - the silver mining below Cairnpapple, the water-powered cotton mill at Blackburn, Linlithgow's paper mills, and the shallow coal pits around Bathgate and Whitburn. 

Later industry included extensive deep mining - ironstone up by Fauldhouse and Whitburn, then coal and shale - as well as foundries, brickworks and railways changed the face of the country, interrupted the water courses, degraded much of the farmland, and dotted the landscape with bings.  

Heavy industries brought prosperity for the few, employment for the many.  The population of the industrial areas grew rapidly, and new villages sprang into being to house the mining workforce.  Because of the speed of growth,  miners' rows were thrown up as quickly and cheaply as possible, leaving a legacy of poor housing.

James Young and Robert Bell and others pioneered the world's commercial oil industry.  Workers came from far and near to the new jobs in the mines and the oil works.  Though American petroleum was discovered some ten years after the start of West Lothian's, the local engineers continually refined their processes to keep Scottish shale oil competitive.

The mining of shale, its retorting and refining, and the packaging and distribution of its products, involved many different processes. Each step in the production process was often the responsibility of a different occupation or trade. Each occupation had its own wage rate and representation, and often carried its own social status.

By the outbreak of the First World War, West Lothian was in its heyday: strategically located in the Central Belt between Edinburgh and Glasgow; with many thousands employed in shale, coal, and the other heavy industries; supplying the oil which powered the mighty Royal Navy; but one of the worst housed counties in the whole of Scotland. Over the ensuing fifty years the building of thousands of council houses gradually provided a decent house for every local family.


 West Lothian’s War

Some Shale Refinery employees.

Scotland Home. Official
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