Lothians Housing

Evidence given by Robert Brown

Robert Brown was a representative of the Mid and East Lothian Miners' Association

Summerlee Iron & Coal Company, Limited

Houses at Summerlee and Morrison's Haven, Prestonpans. These houses are built of brickwork, in blocks of thirty-two houses in each, with room and kitchen, rental 12s. 8d. per four weeks.
(1) No garden ground attached.
(2) No inside lavatory accommodation.
(3) No water inside houses.

There is one washhouse outside for every four houses, but this is not considered satisfactory. Lavatory accommodation is not satisfactory.


The houses here are of three apartments, two rooms up-stairs, with kitchen downstairs. Each house has dry closet accommodation outside in back yard. Rental 12s. 6d. per four weeks. There are several other houses situated at same place, having upstairs and downstairs, at a rental of 8s. per four weeks. The lavatory and other accommodation is similar to that already described.
Improvements desired:
(1) Water and sinks fitted up in the interior of dwellings.
(2) Lavatory and bath accommodation inside dwellings.
(3) Garden ground to be provided for each house.

Udston Colliery Co

Houses at Macmerry
(1) Station Road. Two rooms and kitchen; rental 3s. 3d. per week.
(2) Dandie Row. One room and kitchen; rental 2s. per week.
(3) Stair Row. Two rooms and kitchen; rental 2s. per week.

The water supply is outside. The lavatory accommodation is situated from 30 to 40 yards from each house. The same improvements are required here as stated for Summerlee.

Elphinstone Village, near Tranent

The houses in this village are owned by several proprietors, including the Edinburgh Colliery Company, Limited. Several of the houses have a room and kitchen, while others have two rooms and kitchen. The rents vary from 2s. 2d. to 3s. 3d. per week. The water supply is obtained from wells outside the houses. All lavatory accommodation is situated outside the houses, and is of a very primitive description.

Note.- All arrangements for the removal of excreta are on the pail system, none of the houses referred to in this precis of evidence being fitted with water-closets.

Lothian Coal Company's Houses, Rosewell

Two or three hundred houses. A comparatively good class of house is provided here, mostly of two rooms, scullery, and kitchen, with garden plots in front and garden ground behind. Water supplied from wells outside. Lavatory accommodation all outside. Rent from 3s. 3d. per week.

Carnethie St, Rosewell
Built 1898 by Lothian Coal Co
107 houses with 2 rooms, kitchen
and scullery.  Water & gas in house
[1926 description]

Lothian Coal Company's Houses, Newtongrange

Four or five hundred houses. This is a village of nearly 4000 inhabitants. A few of the older houses remain, but those erected recently, comprising the majority, are of a fairly good standard. They vary from two rooms with scullery and kitchen to four, and five rooms with scullery and kitchen. Rent from 3s. 3d. per week to 5s. 3d. per week; garden ground in front and behind each house ; water mostly supplied from wells outside ; lavatory accommodation outside.

Improvements suggested: Water and lavatory accommodation to be inside dwelling.

Main Street, Newtongrange
Built by Lothian Coal Co in 1900
53 houses of 5 and 6 apartments
[1926 description]

Arniston Coal Company, Limited, Hunterfield, near Gorebridge

Several hundred houses. Housing accommodation here similar to Newtongrange. Considered comparatively good, nearly all having garden ground attached.

Improvements suggested: Water and lavatory accommodation to be provided within the dwelling.

Store Cottages, Hunterfield, Gorebridge
built by Arniston Coal Co in 1898
18 houses with 2 rooms, kitchen, scullery. 
Bathroom & WC added in 1925
[1926 description]

Edinburgh Collieries Ltd, Wallyford

(1) Forth View - New buildings, two storey, stairs outside. From No. 1 to 40, one room and kitchen ; two beds in kitchen, one in room. In this block two families for one w.c. Coals, water, w.c., and washhouses outside. Rent 3s. per week.

From No. 40 to 68, one room, kitchen, and scullery ; two beds in kitchen, two beds in room. Coals, water, w.c., and washhouses outside. Rent 3s. 6d. per week.

From No. 68 to 96, one room, kitchen and scullery in this block; two beds in room, one bed in kitchen. Coals, water, and w.c. outside. Rent 3s. 6d. per week.

From No. 96 to 116, one room, kitchen, and scullery in this block. Two families, to one w.c. Two beds in kitchen, one bed in room. Coals, water, and w.c. outside. Rent 3s. 1 1/2d. per week.

From No. 116 to 170, one room, kitchen, and scullery in this block. Two beds in kitchen, one bed in room. Coals, water, and w.c. outside. Rent 3s. 1 1/2d. per week.

In connection with all the houses, there is a surface grating for waste water at kitchen doors. Each house has a front and back door.

(2) Long Row. - One storey, one door to the front. One room and kitchen, one bed in each. Coals kept inside of house. Water and w.c. outside. No washhouses in this row. Rent 2s. per week. (Twenty-eight houses.)

(3) Chuckers Row.- One room and kitchen, door back and front. Coals kept inside. No washhouses. Water and w.c. outside. One bed in room, one bed in kitchen. Rent 2s. per week. (Twenty-four houses.)

(4) Store Row - One room and kitchen. One door to the front. One bed in room, one bed in kitchen. Water and w.c. outside. No washhouses. Rent 2s. per week. (Seven houses.)

The above are all white-washed, and have surface gratings for waste water at kitchen doors.

(5) Drummore Row - One kitchen and small room, one bed in each. One door to front. Garden at back. Coals kept outside. Water and w.c. outside. No washhouses. Rent 1s. 7 1/2d. per week. (Sixteen houses.)

Surface gratings for waste water. Water supply is sometimes bad.

Evidence given by James Doonan

James Doonan was a miners' agent, West Lothian

East Benhar, Fauldhouse

These houses were built fully forty years ago. They are built of brick. The absence of damp-proof courses is evident, moisture in not a few cases exudes on the internal surface. Wallpaper is used to change or improve the appearance of the bare walls, but the expedient is, at the best, only of temporary utility, for, in a short time, it becomes discoloured, and in some instances the paper parts from the surface to which it originally adhered.

Lavatory and water-closet accommodation is of the most primitive kind. A large unsightly building is erected within a few yards from the Row, the centre of which is used as an ash-pit and for refuse of all kinds, and alongside of this open privies are erected. The stench and smell from these, especially in warm weather, is almost suffocating. There is no sewerage or drainage, but a few feet from the door an open drain runs along each row, into which more than clean water is emptied. Washhouses are unknown, and the nearest place to secure a bath would be Edinburgh or Glasgow.

There are 29 single-room houses rent 1s. 7d. to 1s. 8d. per week; there are 62 two-roomed houses, rent 2s. 4d. per week; and 11 three-roomed houses, including kitchen, rent 3s. 1d. per week.

The water supply is fair, and supplied from a spring near the village.

It is only fair to say that since the present colliery owners acquired these houses, they have spent a considerable sum in repairs, but as these houses were built for the workers employed at another colliery which has been wrought out, they have now practically reached the period when the cost of repairs will almost surpass the amount secured in rent after taxes and feu-duty have been paid.

At one time most of these houses had a cabbage patch, and some had nice tidy gardens with flowers, etc., but the fencing was allowed to go out of repair, and now there is practically no garden attached to these houses.

New Houses built by same colliery owners

This company have built about 100 new houses near Fauldhouse for their workmen. They are room-and-kitchen houses with scullery attached. Washhouses and small plots. Rental, £10 per year, inclusive of all rates. These houses are being filled immediately they are ready for occupation. They are a big improvement on the class of house formerly built for workmen. They are built of brick, and rough cast with cement externally, while the walls inside are lathed and covered with lime and plaster. Each house has lavatory and water-closet accommodation inside. Street pumps are discarded, and each tenant has a water supply. No baths or bathrooms are provided. Those houses are built in two long rows with only two openings to the back. Each house has a back and front door. The ash-pits are erected at the centre between the rows.

The Sanitary Inspector of the County, after submitting a special report recently on the scavenging of Fauldhouse, says, "Meanwhile, I can only say that the formation of such a district in Fauldhouse would go a long way to improve the public health conditions of the place by abolishing these large ill-formed, unsightly ash-pits. It must ever be remembered that the expense that goes to prolong life and improve health conditions of the people is in reality the truest economy."

Woodmuir (High Blinky), West Calder

There are a few houses (30-40 one- or two-roomed houses) situated in High Blinky which may be considered an unsatisfactory. They were built many years ago by a former colliery owner. They are much after the type of the houses (one and two rooms) of those described above. Again, there is the damp and rough walls, the absence of damp-proof courses, and the moisture exuding from the inner surface; and in the winter the frost can be rubbed off the internal surface of the walls. The open ash-pit stands in the centre, with all that the previous description carries. There is the open sewer a few feet from the door. Washhouses were never thought of, and the living-room served for bath, washhouse, cooking, sleeping, coal-cellar, etc., etc. The gardens are attached, and as the place is situated in a bleak moorland district, you will be able to appreciate the outlook on life the tenants of these houses enjoy.

New Houses, Same Company

It is right to say that this company are not responsible for the building of these houses as already described, and that they have erected a large number of new houses near here of a modern type. They are of the class with room, kitchen, scullery, and lavatory attached, and also a few with an additional bedroom (attic), with little gardens attached. These houses are being occupied immediately they are ready, and many of the people who were tenants of the houses described above are changing to the new and more modern house. This mining village lies midway between Fauldhouse and West Calder and is in the heart of a moorland district.

Loganlea Rows - Addiewell, West Calder

There are about 30 one- and two-roomed houses here which may be considered as unsatisfactory, and practically the same remarks apply in respect to structure, material, rough and damp walls, internally. Again, you have the open sewer, the ash-pit in the centre at the back, with the most primitive lavatory and water-closet accommodation, as already described elsewhere.

But recently this company (who were not responsible for building these houses) have spent a considerable sum in repairing these houses and in building sculleries, etc. While this has to some extent improved them, it cannot be said that they are up to modern requirements.

New Houses, Stoneyburn

However, new houses have been built by this company at Stoneyburn, which are a great improvement on the type of house heretofore built for the workmen employed in collieries in that district. They are room and kitchen, with scullery, water-closet, coal-cellar, bleaching-and drying-green, garden; also a number with an additional large bedroom (attic). They are well built, well finished, with panelled doors inside. Modern fire grates, water-taps, sink, and washhouses. They are being eagerly sought after by the workmen.

Cappers Rows, Bathville Rows, Armadale

Cappers Rows are situated near Armadale Station, and have been built many years ago. They have passed through the hands of several colliery owners, and are of the old type, each row built facing each other, with the ash-pit in the centre, with the open privies built alongside. The open sewer, no drainage, washhouses unknown, are the general characteristics which rule here.

At Bathville Rows you have a long continuous street of mostly single-apartment houses, which do for coal-cellar, washhouse, cooking, living-and sleeping-room. They are of brick, and were built many years ago. They are a very poor type of this class of house, and it would be a good thing if a Closing Order was applied to them. The difficulty at the moment is where to put the people who are living in them. Houses are extremely scarce in this district, otherwise these houses would be empty. There is nothing of the accommodation which is now thought necessary for a workman's dwelling-house. It is a striking example of the ideas and attitude of the employers of that period as to the welfare, happiness, and comfort which they seemingly thought their workmen and families should enjoy.

New Houses, Westrigg & Blackridge, belonging to the same colliery company

Again, I am pleased to say that while this colliery company acquired these houses at Cappers and Bathville, and are not responsible for their structure or condition, they have built a fine and commodious number of houses at Westrigg, Armadale district; room, kitchen and scullery, washhouses, lavatory and water-closet accommodation, gardens, drying- and bleaching- green. It is also a lighting and drainage district, and the nearest approach to a model mining village we have in the coal districts of the County. There are also a number of two-rooms and kitchen houses with all modern equipment, with light, space, and other necessary accommodation.

Durhamtown, Bathgate

These houses are of a very old type, and were built fully sixty years ago. They are built mostly of old rubble. The walls are rough and damp, and the floors are generally stone, very few having wood floors. They are built back to back, with ash-pits in centre, and the open sewer. There are the same conditions as to lavatory and water-closet accommodation as exist in those already described of this type. They could not be altered to bring them up to modern requirements, and the best thing that could happen would be to apply a Closing Order to them.

Furnace yard Rows and Newton, Bo'ness

A number of houses situated in Furnace Row are within the Burgh of Bo'ness. A number are of the one-room type. They have been built for a long period, and are much similar in construction to one-roomed houses already described. Of course, being under the Burgh, there is a lighting, drainage, and sewerage scheme, and the scavenging is carried out each day by the Burgh's workmen.

At Newtown, belonging to the same firm, there are a number of old single- and double-apartment houses. These do not come under the Burgh Authorities. This company have built some very good houses at Kinneil, just outside the Burgh. They are of one room, kitchen, scullery, bath and water-closet, and the rent is 5s. per week. They have drying- and bleaching-green, with garden attached. There is another batch of houses, with an additional bedroom, along with al1 the other accommodation already mentioned. I have not been able to ascertain definitely the rent of this later class of house, but will do so before being called before you. It is only fair to say that the colliery owners in this district are building a better-class house than was formerly thought necessary for their workmen, or if they thought otherwise, the class of house did not indicate it. 

Houses built in 1917 by Wm Dixon Ltd
24 houses with room & large kitchen, scullery, water supply, WC and press accommodation
[1926 description]

Newton Pencaitland

Housing Conditions at Newton Pencaitland, in Haddingtonshire.

In connection with a report on enteric fever in the parish of Pencaitland in the Western District of Haddingtonshire, I had occasion to report on the small mining village of Newton Pencaitland, where the housing conditions were fairly satisfactory. The report was made in March 1907, and the following description of Newton Pencaitland is taken from it. It is an example of what can be done with old property.

General Description - Newton is a mining hamlet on the Winton estate, and consists of a " row " of twenty-three houses divided into three blocks, the first two containing five houses, the last one thirteen. The first two houses in the first group of five are used as a "bothy" and common reading-room respectively; the others are dwelling-houses.

The houses are all old, originally built about one hundred years ago ; but within the last ten years the proprietor has put them into a thoroughly sanitary and habitable condition. Thus, the roofs have been tiled, and rhones and rainfall spouts have been provided ; the floors have been renewed, and there is ventilation under them; double-hung sash windows have been put in, of adequate size, and made to open ; walls have been plastered, and in some cases strapped and plastered.

Four houses have three rooms, and all the others have two rooms, of fair superficial area, light and well ventilated, and about 7 feet to 8 feet in height. In each house there is a pantry or food store with a window in it that opens.

The houses in the "row" are all habitable and in a sanitary condition, distinctly superior to most houses of their class with which I am familiar.

Water Supply - There is a gravitation water supply to two stand-pipes conveniently situated. There are no sinks in the houses, but there are thirteen trapped gullies at equal intervals on the line of the drain, and domestic tubs, etc., are emptied at these points.

New Drainage, etc., Arrangements - Between 7th and 14th October 1905 a 4-inch spigot and faucet jointed drain was laid in front of the " row," with thirteen gully traps and gratings at suitable intervals to receive all slop waters. At the lower end of the " row " this drain is connected with a properly jointed drain of larger size and led to a cesspool, the overflow from which opens into a ditch in a plantation about 400 yards distant from the lowest house of the " row." Before this date there had been a stone wall with a surface channel or gutter of concrete, and no drain. Slops, etc. used to be thrown out in the channel, and flowed to the ditch at the end of the " row." The gutter was removed at the same time as the new drain was laid.

Disposal of Excreta.- Excreta and house refuse are disposed of by burying in the garden ground in front of the houses, which is ample in extent. There are twelve pail-privies in brick buildings roofed over and placed in three groups of four about fifty yards from, the houses at the extreme ends of the gardens. Each pail-privy is thus made to serve two tenants.

Scavenging - A man is paid by the proprietor to attend to the general scavenging and cleanliness of Newton.

[Evidence presented to Royal Commission, 12th March 1913 by Dr Fred Dittmar]