Left : Typical miners rows in Stirlingshire

Evidence given by Mr James Doherty and Mr John Barr of the Stirlingshire Miners' Union to the Royal Commission on Housing

Redding Square

Owned by James Nimmo & Co., Coalmasters, consists of two rows of single-storey houses running at right angles to each other.

The front row consists of six houses of two apartments and six houses of one apartment. The rents of the two apartments are 2s. 3d. per week, and the single apartments 1s 9d. per week, which includes rates.

There are no washhouses, consequently the family washing is carried out in the house or in the open air. There are no coal-houses, and as a result the tenants have to keep the coal under the bed.

The only drainage is an open channel about 7 feet from doors. There are no gutter-pipes at rhones, so that the rain from the tile roofs drips down the sides to the ground and makes a channel of its own.

The kitchens measure about 10 feet by 14 feet by 8 feet, and the rooms about 9 feet by 14 feet by 6 feet. There are two boxed-in beds in each kitchen, one small window in front and another, about 20 inches by 20 inches, at back, which open on hinges.

One street well supplies the inhabitants with water, and there are three dry-closets for nineteen houses and ninety-four inhabitants, and only one ash-pit.

The houses are damp inside, and the tenants cannot get repairs carried out. The buildings are very old. A good many of the miners in this village live in their own cottages.

Rumford Village

Rumford Square - owners, James Nimmo & Co., Coalmasters - containing twenty houses (brick), which consist of six with two apartments and fourteen with single apartments.

The rents here are 2s. 9d. for two apartments, and 1s. 9d. for single apartments, including rates. The kitchens, which measure 10 feet by 14 feet, contain two box-beds. One street well supplies all the inhabitants, and there are six dry-closets which were in a deplorable condition. We interviewed the person who acts as scavenger, and he informed us the closets and ash-pits were emptied fortnightly, and that he was in receipt of the magnificent salary of 1s. 3d. per week for keeping the place clean.

The windows at the back of these houses should consist of eight panes, but on my visit one of the windows only consisted of one pane, and we learned from the tenant that it was in this condition for two years, and there has been a sick person in this house for the last five months. Several other windows in other houses were nearly as bad, and the owners refuse to repair them.

The streets at front and back of these houses were in a filthy condition, and I have no hesitation in saying these houses are totally unfit for human habitation.

Carron Company have a considerable number of houses here, which have been recently repaired and are much improved, and we were led to believe that they intend very soon to introduce water-closets instead of dry-pans presently in use.

Carronview Terrace

This is a large row of double-storey houses on the road leading from Rumford to Maddiston, owned by Carron Company, consisting of houses of kitchen, room, scullery, and washhouse, water-closets and coal-houses all inside, with water in scullery. The rents are 4s. per week.

The refuse is put in buckets and removed by carts daily.

The kitchens contain two beds and the rooms are large and airy.

A large addition is being built similar to those occupied at present.


Owners, James Nimmo & Company. This lot consists of twenty-two houses, ten of one apartment and twelve of two apartments, built of bricks. Rents 2s. 9d. and 1s. 9d. per week. One window in each apartment.

No back windows, no washhouses or coal-houses ; only three dry-closets, dirty and out of repair, and are used by twenty-two families. Streets in front of houses muddy, and roads resemble the muddy bed of a river ; an open drain runs the full length of the row in front of the houses.


Owners, James Nimmo & Company. This village consists of two rows running at right angles to each other. The front row consists of two houses of two apartments and seven of single apartments, and the side row consists of four double-apartment houses and eight single apartments. Rents are 2s. 9d. and 1s. 9d. No washhouses, no coal-houses ; there are six dry-closets and one street well for twenty-four families. Ash-pits cleaned monthly. A small hole in back of wall of houses about 9 inches by 9 inches called a window. A railway runs along a few yards in front of side row, and this forms a drain for the water and sewage. There are no pavements in front of the houses.


Owned by Russell & Aitken, Solicitors, Falkirk. North Square consists of 12 one-apartment houses, rents 1s. 3d. per week. Every two houses are provided with a dry-closet, but these closets are kept in a filthy condition. Washhouses are being erected. An open drain runs about 14 foot from the houses, and the grating is choked. The streets are in a bad condition, and there is no pavement in front of the houses.

The cleaning of ash-pits depends on farmers when they have time to do so ; one street well supplies the water.

South Blackbraes

Also owned by Russell & Aitken, Solicitors, Falkirk, consists of two rows ,of houses (brick), single and double apartments, dry-closets kept in a filthy condition, and ash-pits are cleaned every six weeks. There is one street well for each row. No washhouse. About 6 feet from the door an open drain conveys water and sewage to grating at end of rows. Streets are in filthy condition.


Owners of this village are R. Forrester & Company, Coalmasters. It consists of twenty-five back-to-back houses of one and two apartments. Rents are 1s. 3d. and 2s. 2d. per week. There are two dry-closets which are kept in a filthy condition, and ash-pits are only cleaned monthly. There are neither washhouses nor coal-houses, and only one street well.

The sewage runs into a field and forms a large pool a few yards from the doors, and there is no channel drain.


This lot, owned by James Nimmo & Company, Coalmasters, consists of several rows of houses numbering in all 170 houses of one and two apartments. The rents are 1s. 9d., 2s. 10d., and 3s. 2d. per week. The system of dry-closets is in operation, and they are cleaned daily, but still are very offensive, having no doors on them. The water is got from street wells. Most of houses have no coal-houses, and the very few there are have no doors on them and are not used.

Many of washhouses are kept as stores by trades-men repairing, and are not available for the purpose for which they are meant. Some of the back windows have corrugated iron sheets and wooden shutters instead of glass.

The streets are laid with ashes and burnt blaes, and the water makes its way all over the street in every direction.

According to report of Dr Adam, Medical Officer of Health for Stirlingshire, improvements have been recently carried out, but they are a long way behind modern requirements.

Bannockburn District

Haughs- This part of the village lies in a very low situation, far below the level of the main road, and is reached by a long flight of stairs from the Edinburgh and Stirling road.

There are twenty-one room and kitchen houses and two single apartments. The Alloa Coal Company own or lease eleven of these houses, which are occupied by miners working in Cowie and Carnock Collieries.

These houses have one box-bed in the kitchen, and they are very damp, the ceiling and roof being broken and very much in need of repairs inside.

There is an open channel about 15 feet from doors, and at back of houses an open drain which runs against the walls the whole length of the buildings.

There are no washhouses and only a few have coal-houses, the others keeping coals under the bed. The. water is procured from one street well. There are six water-closets for twenty-one families, and all the closets presented a horrible state of matters on my visit, as they were seemingly not working right, and in consequence the filth was being washed all over the place ; and there is no one to look after these matters.

A daily removal by dust-cart takes place. The streets in front and back of houses were in such a state to be almost unapproachable.

There are no pavements, and some of the houses are not now inhabited, being condemned by the Sanitary Authority, and the great scarcity of houses would seem to be the only reason for their not taking action regarding the remainder.

The rent charged is 2s. per week.

Cowie Village

   Miners rows at Cowie c1910

Owners, Alloa Coal Company. The houses of this village are laid off in twelve rows. They are built of brick, and consist of one room and kitchen, two rooms and kitchen, and a few one-apartment houses. Some of the room-and-kitchen houses have sculleries attached, and the two-room-and-kitchen houses have scullery with bath and wash-boiler.

The rents charged are 1s. 3d. per apartment, and for the largest houses 4s. 6d. per week.

An open channel in front of doors conveys all water the whole length of the rows of about thirty houses, which is very unsatisfactory in warm and dry weather.

There are five families for each washhouse, and the same number for each dry-closet.

The ash-pits are emptied at intervals of from four to five weeks and during the daytime, which is very disagreeable owing to the terrible odour. The ash-pits are too near the houses.

This village is splendidly situated, and, unlike most miners' houses, there is plenty of space between the rows.

The houses on the whole are of a good class when compared with others we have inspected, and we were favourably impressed with the size and arrangements of Polmaise Place and Miller Place, containing houses of room and kitchen on ground floor and large attic above, with scullery, bath, and washhouse combined attached to them.

The only drawback is the crude sanitary arrangements, which could be improved by introducing water-closets, gravitation water supply (the water supply is at present pumped from the pit), forming concrete pavements along front of doors, introducing water supply to inside of all houses, and a drainage system with daily removal of refuse.

Hill Terrace

This is a new village owned by Alloa Coal Company, consisting of two terraces containing houses similar to Cowie Rows. The sanitary arrangements are an improvement here, as the closets and ash-pits are a greater distance from the houses, and there is a daily removal of refuse.

Banknock Rows

Owners, Banknock Coal Company. These houses are of brick, and consist of two rows of room and kitchen houses.

Owing to pressure by County Health Authority great improvements have been carried out here recently, as there has been an epidemic of fever in the village. They are fair-sized room and kitchen houses, with the usual two box-beds in kitchen. The water supply is from street wells. The rent is 3s. 3d. per week.

There are now splendid water-closets, and a daily removal of refuse by bucket system.

There are good washhouses, but not enough, being in proportion of one for eight tenants.

The streets are in a deplorable condition, but are in process of being repaired.

The walls are solid brick without lathing, and in consequence in wet weather the houses are very damp inside. Some houses are badly in need of repair owing to broken walls. There is no pavement in front, except what is formed by engine ashes, which makes streets very soft in wet weather.


Watson Place consists of two rows, and is owned by Banknock Coal Company. They contain room and kitchen houses, the rents of which are 3s. 9d. per week, and the water supply is here led into the houses. There are also water-closets and washhouses for every six tenants.

The houses are in need of repairs owing to broken plaster in ceilings and walls, which tenants have difficulty in getting repaired. The cause of this is in some way attributable to the underground workings, as part of a wall in front of houses has collapsed:, and the remaining portion is a positive danger to children going about.

Hollandbush - Here there is a row of eleven old houses which I am informed belong to a firm of lawyers named Motherwell, M'Murdo & Mitchell of Airdrie.

They consist of room and kitchen houses, and are small and low-roofed. There are no washhouses or coal-houses. They have open ash-pits, with wooden dry-closets at back of houses in the gardens. There is an open drain close to houses at back. The rents of this lot are £7s, 4s. per annum.

Kilsyth Burgh

Kingston Rows consist of four rows of fifty-seven houses owned by Messrs Wm. Baird & Company, Limited. Coalmasters. They are situated in the burgh on the side of Edinburgh and Glasgow main road.

The houses consist of two apartments. The kitchens measure about 12 feet by 14 feet, with one box-bed, and the room is a small apartment 9 feet by 6 feet, containing a bed.

The floors are of flat bricks, 12 inches by 12 inches. Coal-houses and one washhouse for every, eight tenants, with water inside. Water supply for houses from street wells. Rents are - front row 2s. 10d. per week, for other three rows 2s. 4d. per week. There is considerable over-crowding, as in some houses there are nine persons living. All the houses are very damp.

The Side Row, which has been condemned by the medical officer for the burgh as being unfit for human habitation, is about 4 feet below the level of Parkburn Road at back, and some of the houses have a step down to the inside.

The following is a copy of the medical officer's report in May last:-
"I have inspected Kingston Row, and am of opinion that they are in a state so dangerous or injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation, through defects in construction and want of proper domestic conveniences.

" This row is a one-storey building comprising fifteen houses, numbered 0 to 14. All these houses have a tar-felt roof, and, with the exception of No. 0, have brick floors, and all show in varying degrees the following sanitary defects :-

(1) Dampness, due more or less to several causes, including (a) want of damp-proof course in the external and partition walls; (6) want of strapping and lathing on the external walls; (c) floor below the level of the ground outside, and with no air space beneath; (d) blocking of the rhones and gullies which carry off water from the roof ; (e) dilapidation of windows, allowing ingress of rain.

(2) Want of proper domestic conveniences, including (a) supply of water in the house ; (b) slop-sinks and drains for carrying off liquid refuse.

To make these houses reasonably fit for human habitation, the following remedies are required :-

(1) slated roof, with suitable rhones and pipes; (2) damp-proof course in external and partition walls ; (3) strap and lath internal surface of outer walls and finish with plaster ; (4) wooden floor above ground level, with space beneath sufficiently ventilated; (5) small room without fireplace not to be used as sleeping apartment; (6) provide water supply in house ; (7) provide slop-sink in window recess or other well-lighted and ventilated place; (8) repair any dilapidations of walls or windows."

There is a water closet for every four tenants, an open drain which conveys all kinds of water runs in front of the houses, and the streets are laid with engine ashes, and consequently soft.

Although the Local Health Authorities have condemned the Side Row, it seems to be the only one they have examined, as the other rows are as bad, and in many cases worse, water coming in and trickling down the walls.

The buildings are of brick and over fifty-five years old, and have solid walls with no lathing.

The front row has been slated for some years, but the other rows are roofed with tar-felt, which is not at all rain-proof. The owners absolutely refuse to carry out repairs, and have intimated so to the Town Council.

The whole town is in a very bad state regarding housing. There have been very few new houses erected recently, and many of the houses are very old and consist of single apartments.

The principal industry formerly was hand-loom weaving, which is very seldom seen to-day. Many old loom-shops which have been converted into dwellings have low roofs and small windows.

The Town Council, who are the Local Health /Authorities, have been condemning many old properties recently, and are pressing proprietors to put their houses in order; but they have been considerably hampered by the great scarcity of houses, and naturally hesitate taking action which would have people removed with no place to house them.

Overcrowding, owing to above causes, prevails to an alarming extent.

The Miners' Union sent a deputation to the Town Council in May last asking them to proceed with a Housing Scheme, and since then a scheme has been discussed which would introduce a splendid type of houses of one and two rooms and kitchen, bath, scullery, coal-collar, wash-houses, and gardens.

The plans were exhibited in the Council Chambers for several days and seem to meet with the approval of all who saw them.

Many people have had to leave the district owing to scarcity of houses.