Housing in Shale Mining Areas
Evidence given by Mr Robert Hood, Chairman of the Scottish Shale Miners' Association, Mr Robert Small, General Secretary of the Shale Miners' Association; and Mr Theodore K Irvine, Architect and Builder, Bathgate, attending, advising as expert to the Scottish Shale Miners' Association to the Royal Commission on Housing
The following particulars might be considered a fair description of the houses owned or leased by the six Shale Oil Companies.
The Broxburn Oil Company own or lease over 600 houses in and around Broxburn district. The houses are mostly built in rows ; some form three sides of a square; they are in blocks of six, eight, sixteen, and twenty houses eachthe two latter numbers consist of two-storey blocks. There are about 130 single-apartment houses, many of which are back to back. The rental is 1s. 8d. to 1s. 1d. per week, inclusive of local and county rates. Most of these houses are provided with an outside water-closet for every two tenants, and a washhouse for every four tenants. The water is supplied by a limited number of stand-pipes, and the drainage is by open channel. They are, in the main, kept as clean and orderly as is possible under such insanitary arrangements.
There are also some 470 houses, about one-half of which consist of room and kitchen, and the other half of room, kitchen, scullery with sink, and water-closet. The dimensions of these houses vary considerably, the following is an example:- Room, 11 feet by 10 feet, also bed-recess ; kitchen, 13 feet by 10 feet, also two bed-recesses. Single apartment, 13 feet by 10 feet, also bed-recesses ; height of ceiling, 9 feet. For two-apartment houses the rental is 2s. 3d. to 2s. 9d. per week, and where sculleries, sinks, and water-closets are provided, the rental is 3s. 3d, per week, inclusive of local and county rates. In some cases two single apartments are made into one house, and the rent charged is 3s. 8d. per week. Washhouses are provided for every four tenants.
The refuse from all the houses is deposited in ash-pits, which are a serious source of trouble in summer time. These ash-pits are built between the blocks of houses. Clothes poles are studded in the space between the backs of the rows. The existing privies are such that women cannot use them, and men should not. They should be done away with absolutely, as should the ash-pits, and a daily system of refuse removal adopted. The pathways are made of ashes for the most part.
The Broxburn Oil Company are gradually substituting water-closets and sculleries for the present privies, but at a rate which is too slow, considering the existing conditions. At Stewartfield Rows this Company have just built water-closets, but the method taken ought to be condemned. There are eighteen closets facing each other, nine on each side of the gables of two blocks of houses. Each closet serves two households, thus you have the occupiers, of all ages and sexes, from thirty-six houses, compelled to come in contact. Such affords neither privacy nor decency. Water-closets should be provided in each house.
Messrs Young's Oil Company own sixteen houses, mostly single apartments, off Greendykes Road. There is no washhouse, and one stand-pipe supplies the gravitation water. The sewage is conveyed by a broken brick channel. The tenants have built themselves wooden coal-cellars. There are two ash-pits and two privies of a most objectionable character. A drying green is provided. The rental is 1s. 3d. weekly, inclusive of rates.
Houses are very scarce in the district, and there is a great demand for even the worst. There are some 1610 houses in Broxburn district, occupied by 8026 persons.
Westerton Rows are situated to the east about one mile from Broxburn. The village consists of forty-one houses, built in three rows of equal size. The houses are built of brick, and consist of room (12 feet by 12 feet), kitchen (12 feet by 12 feet, with two bed-recesses), and scullery with sink (7 1/2 feet by 6 feet). Outside dry-closets, coal-cellars, and small gardens are provided for each tenant.
There is a common drying green, but no washhouses. All refuse is removed twice weekly by the Company. The rent, inclusive of local and county rates, is 3s. weekly. Population, 257.
One of the houses, with a wing added, has been converted into a billiard and games room. Daily papers are supplied, and there is a small library. The workers pay l 1/2d. per week for use of the reading room.
The houses are the property of Messrs Young's Mineral Oil Company.
At Dalmeny there are fifty-one houses of two apartments, with scullery. Coal cellars and dry-closets are provided for each tenant, but no washhouses. Gravitation water is supplied by a few stand-pipes. Drying space is provided. Refuse is removed daily by the Company. The rental for these houses is 3s. 6d. weekly, inclusive of rates.
There are also twenty-one single-apartment houses, with similar conditions to above, rental 1s. 9d. per week. Ashed pathways exist, and, consequently, in wet weather are in a very dirty condition.
These houses are owned by the Dalmeny Oil Company. The appearance of the rows is anything but inviting as a place of habitation for the population of 434 persons.
The Oakbank Oil Company own over 230 houses built in rows at Winchburgh. 161 houses consist of parlour (12 feet by 12 feet), kitchen (15 feet by 11 feet, also bed-recesses), bedroom (12 feet by 10£ 1/2 feet), scullery with boiler, sink, water-closet, and coal-cellar; height of rooms, 10 1/2 feet; rental, 4s. 6d. weekly, inclusive of rates. There are thirty houses with room and kitchen with same conveniences as above houses, rental 3s. 6d.; also fourteen houses of two apartments, but larger in size, with all conveniences as above, cost 4s. weekly, inclusive of rates. These are all houses of a good type.
There is a good drainage and water supply. A few electric lamps are erected at centre of rows. The refuse is deposited in dustbins, which are emptied three times weekly. Drying greens are provided, but no gardens.
Owing to the great scarcity of houses, there are a considerable number of young married couples living in rooms, and numerous cases of two families living in one house exist. A dwelling-house has been converted into billiard and reading rooms. In Winchburgh village there are 313 houses in all, with a population of 1752.
There are ninety-six houses owned by Young's Mineral Oil Company in Niddry. Some eighty-eight houses consist of room (12 feet by 13 feet), kitchen (12 feet by 13 feet), scullery (7 1/2 feet by 6 feet) with sink. There is a dry-closet and coal-cellar to each house. A washhouse is provided a few feet from scullery door, where gravitation water is obtained for domestic use. Small gardens are also provided.
Rent for thirty-four of these houses is from 2s. 5d. to 2s. l1d., while fifty-four houses are rented at 3s. 2d. per week, inclusive of rates. There are 8 one-apartment houses, rental 1s. 6d. to 2s. weekly. There is a good drainage system. Refuse is removed twice weekly. Many of these houses are over forty years built. Two houses have been converted into games and reading rooms. The total number of houses in Niddry is 118, and the population is 690.
Kingscavil and Bridgend
Kingscavil and Bridgend are respectively about one and a half and two miles east of Linlithgow. Kingscavil consists of four rows running at right angles to the main Edinburgh road, while Bridgend is a few hundred yards off the main road. At Kingscavil there are 108 houses, and at Bridgend some eighty-six houses, all owned by Lord Rosebery, and leased to James Ross & Company, of Philpstoun Oil Company.
The houses consist of room and kitchen. There are a few single apartments. At Bridgend thirty-six houses have small sculleries. One dry-closet is provided for every two tenants, and a coal-cellar for each tenant, but there are no washhouses. Water is supplied by stand-pipes. At Kingscavil there are small gardens in front of the houses, but the surrounding walls are in a very tumble-down condition. The rental is 1s. 9d. for single-apartment houses, and, 2s. 6d. for two-apartment houses, inclusive of local and county rates. The Company remove the refuse from dustbins every morning. The population of Kingscavil and Bridgend is 802. A number of the houses are empty, and many need repairs. In some cases the keeping of too many lodgers leads to overcrowding.
Philpstoun Oil Company own some 115 houses in the village of Philpstoun, which is about three miles east of Linlithgow. Most of the houses consist of room and kitchen with coal-cellar, and there is a washhouse for every four tenants. Separate dry-closets are provided for men and women. Gravitation water is supplied from stand-pipes. The Company remove the refuse from closets twice weekly, and empty dustbins daily. The pathways are laid with bricks and are kept very clean. The rental is 2s. 9d. per week, inclusive of rates. The size of kitchen is 15 feet by 10 feet, also two bed-recesses, and the room measures 11 feet by 10 feet, also bed-recess. Drying greens are provided, but no gardens.
There are six houses in Kinnaird's Terrace, with kitchen, parlour, small bedroom off parlour, scullery with boiler, and a garden for each tenant. The rental is 5s. 6d. weekly.
There are twelve houses built on the garden city principle. The following particulars apply to a few of them containing kitchen, parlour, bedroom, scullery, small pantry off kitchen, bathroom, water-closet, and coal-cellar, and there is also a garden:- Dimensions, kitchen, 15 feet by 13 1/2 feet; parlour, 13 1/2 feet by 11 feet; bedroom, 13 1/2 feet by 9 feet; scullery, 10 feet by 8 feet. The rental is 6s. per week, inclusive of local and county rates. The Institute at Philpstoun, which is built in harmony with the garden city houses, is a very fine building, surrounded with shrubs and trees well arranged. The population at last police census was 624.
The Pumpherston Oil Company own 220 houses in this village, which is situated about one mile north from Mid Calder. These houses are built of brick, and rough-cast or cement-washed. In a number of cases, however, the back of the house, which faces the drying greens, is neither rough-cast nor cement-washed, and this presents an unfinished appearance.'
There are about 173 houses consisting of room (12 feet by 11 feet, also bed-recess and press), kitchen (14 1/2 feet by 11 -feet, also two bed-recesses), scullery (7 1/2 feet by 6 feet) with sink and water-closet. A washhouse is provided for every four tenants. The rental is 2s. 6d. to 2s. 9d. per week, inclusive of rates. In the case of thirty-six of these houses, the room and kitchen are approximately 11 feet by 16 1/2 feet each, and the scullery is 10 feet 5 inches by 7 feet 8 inches, which contains sink, set-in tub, boiler, and water-closet.
There are nineteen houses consisting of three apartments, and all conveniences as above, let at from 4s. to 4s. 9d. per week. Then there are 27 single-apartment houses, with scullery and water-closet, let at 1s. 6 1/2d. per week, inclusive of rates. Some sixty houses are built back to back.
A good supply of gravitation water is obtained, and a good drainage system exists. The refuse is collected daily by the Company, from dustbins provided to each tenant. The gardens are made good use of by the workers, and present a good appearance in the season.
An Institute, with a good library and hall, exists. There is also a bowling green in the centre of the village, for all of which the workers subscribe weekly.
The total number of houses in Pumpherston district is 260, and in Mid Calder 335, with an approximate population in the two districts of 2990 persons.
In the vicinity of Uphall Station, Young's Mineral Oil Company own some 118 houses. Beechwood Cottages consist of thirty-four houses, each having room, kitchen, scullery and washhouse, coal-cellar, and dry-closet. There is a small garden in front of these cottages. Gravitation water is got from the washhouse. The refuse is removed weekly from ash-pits. The rent is 3s. 2d. weekly, inclusive of rates.
At the Station Rows there are eighteen houses of two apartments, and two houses of three apartments. There is no scullery or washhouse for twelve of these houses, but coal-cellars, and also dry-closets of a kind, are provided. Refuse is removed weekly from ash-pits. Sewage is disposed of by open channel. The rent is 2s. 5d. and 2s. 11d. per week respectively, inclusive of local and county rates.
White Row consists of 5 two-apartment houses, with scullery and washhouse, seven houses with kitchen, bed-room, scullery, and washhouse, also two single ends. The latter nine houses are of a very poor type. The sewage is removed by open channel. Ash-pits are emptied weekly. There are five privies of a deplorable pattern for fourteen families. Water is obtained from washhouses. Rents are 1s. l1d. and 1s. 8s. per week, inclusive of local rates.
Stankards Rows consist of six double- and thirty single-apartment houses. There are no coal-cellars, washhouses, or sculleries. Ash-pits and privies exist. The ash-pits are emptied at irregular intervals, and are from 10 to 15 yards from houses. Rents are 2s. 5d. and 1s. 8d. per week, inclusive of local and county rates. These houses are of a very poor type.
A bowling green and Institute are good features of the village. In the district of Uphall there are 502 houses, occupied by some 2638 persons.
Oakbank Village lies to the south of Mid Calder, about one mile distant. There are some 165 houses in Oakbank belonging to the Oakbank Oil Company. These houses are in rows, built of brick, and consist of room and kitchen, or kitchen and attic. There are three single-apartment houses, but two of them were empty when we visited the village.
All these houses have coal-cellars, and there are wash-houses for every four tenants. The water is got from stand-pipes. Ash-pipes and privies are provided. A few houses have gardens. The rental is 2s. per week, inclusive of local and county rates. The Company provide iron frames for the beds. We understand that water-closets are likely to be provided for these houses at an early date.
An Institute, bowling green, and football pitch are made good use of by the workmen, for which they pay a small subscription weekly.
There are 190 houses in Oakbank, and 240 in East Calder, with an approximate population of 1950 persons.
Addiewell is about one mile to the west of West Calder. In the village there are some 360 houses built of brick, in rows and tenements. There are some 70 single-apartment houses, and about 290 two-apartment houses. No wash-houses are provided for any of the tenants, and ninety have no coal-cellars.
The size of single apartments is 14 feet 10 inches by 12 feet; height 8 feet 10 inches. In two-apartment houses the kitchen measures 13 feet by 11 feet, and the room 9 1/2 feet by 11 feet; height 8 feet 7 1/2 inches in some houses j in others the height measures 9 feet 3 inches. A number of houses have gardens.
For about 300 houses there are only twelve privies of a most objectionable character. Ash-pits are provided, but they are built from about 15 to 20 yards from the houses, and as can readily be imagined, they are a positive pestilence in the summer time, and at all times a danger to the health of the community. Clothes poles are studded here and there in the back courts. Water is procured from some seventeen stand-pipes, and the sewage flows down by open channels. The sanitary conditions generally existing are bad in the extreme. The rental is 2s. 4d. per week for double- and 1s. 6d. per week for single-apartment houses, inclusive of local and county rates. The houses are occupied principally by the oilworkers.
An Institute with library and reading room is provided, also room for games, for which the workers are charged 1d. per week.
The houses are owned by Messrs Young's Oil Company. In Addiewell district there are some 650 houses, with a population of 2100 persons.
These houses belong to Young's Mineral Oil Company, and consist of 95 single- and 64 double-apartment houses. The rent is 1s. 9d. and 2s. 3d. per week for single- and double-apartment houses respectively. They are old houses and of a very poor type. Single-apartment houses have bricked floors. Where wood floors are substituted, the tenants have to remove the clay and dirt, and 1d. per week is added to the rent. There are no coal-cellars, wash houses, or sculleries. Privies are provided, but the conditions are anything but satisfactory. There are four stand-pipes for 159 houses. Refuse is removed daily by the Company.
Gavieside, West Calder
These rows belong to Young's Oil Company. There are eight single- and eighty-four double houses, forty-four of which are back to back. Many of the houses are below level of road, and rents range from 1s. to 2s. 3d. per week. There are no coal-cellars, washhouses, or sculleries. A few stand-pipes supply the water. The refuse is removed weekly. Dry privies of a kind exist. These houses are of a very poor type, and ought to be condemned. Houses are scarce.
Mossend, West Calder
These rows also belong to Young's Mineral Oil Company. There are 140 double-apartment houses. The water is supplied by four stand-pipes. The rental is 2s. 3d. per week, inclusive of rates. There are no coal-collars, wash-houses, or sculleries. Dry privies exist, but they are practically public nuisances. The refuse in removed weekly by the Oil Company. The sewage is disposed of by open channel. There is a contrast in black and white about these houses - the gables are blackened with tar, while the fronts and backs of the houses are whitewashed.
In West Calder district there are approximately some 1010 houses occupied by 4220 persons.
The housing conditions in West Calder district are very unsatisfactory. It is a mild expression to say they are disgraceful, and the wonder is that the public authorities tolerate such conditions. Owing to recent developments of mining, there is a great scarcity of houses, and the County Council ought to build to meet requirements. The Council have been approached, but little encouragement has been held out that they will build houses to meet the great needs of the community.
In this village there are 179 houses with a population of 1105 persons. More than 160 of the houses are owned by the Pumpherston Oil Company. The village will compare favourably with most mining villages for general arrangement and position. Most of the houses have little gardens, in front, others have gardens both front and back, as also drying greens fenced off with iron railings. Swings and play centres are provided for the children.
There are seventy-six houses, consisting of room, kitchen, scullery with boiler and sink, also coal-cellar. In forty houses there is a water-closet for every two tenants, and in thirty-six houses a water-closet is provided for each tenant - rental 4s. weekly, inclusive of rates.
Then there are eighty-eight houses having the same accommodation as above, with an attic in addition, which are let at a rental of 4s. 6d. weekly. All the houses have front and back doors. Drying greens are provided. The ground space between the back doors of each house is cemented. All refuse is removed from the dustbins daily by the Company. Two families frequently live in one house, owing to scarcity of houses.
An Institute with library, and a bowling green, are made good use of by the workers. Spray baths are to be had at the Institute, for a small charge. We believe the troubles which arise from time to time are, in a measure, associated with the defective system of sewage disposal, which is discharged in a wood near the village. It should be easily remedied.
The village of Seafield is situated about two miles north of West Calder, on the Edinburgh road. There are three rows of twenty-four houses each on one side of the main road, and two rows of twenty-four houses each on the other.
The houses are all built of brick, but some seventy-two of them have lately been rough-cast. These seventy-two houses consist of room (12 1/2 feet by 11 1/2 feet), kitchen (14 1/2 feet by 11 1/2 feet, also bed-recesses), scullery with sink, and water-closet. A coal-cellar for each house is provided, and a washhouse for every four tenants, as also drying greens. For twenty-four houses gardens are provided. Rental - 2s. 9d. and 3s. weekly, inclusive of rates. Cement pavements are laid between the houses. There are also twenty-four houses of room, kitchen, attic, with boiler in scullery, and a garden in front of house - rental 4s. 6d. per week. Dustbins are emptied daily by the Company. There is a good water supply and drainage
An additional twenty-four new houses have just been built with similar accommodation to the foregoing, at rentals of 4s., 4s. 6d., and 5s. The latter rental is for houses with two attics. These houses belong to the Pumpherston Oil Company.
At Breich, which lies about half a mile to the south of Seafield, twelve houses consist of room, kitchen, attic, scullery with boiler, sink, and water-closet. Coal-cellars and dustbins are provided. Rental 4s. per week. There are seventeen houses, consisting of one room and kitchen, with scullery and boiler, and 8 one-apartment houses with scullery. Rent for the former, 2s. 9d., and latter, 2s. 1d. per week, inclusive of rates. For the latter twenty-five houses, privies only are provided, and three ash-pits. The kitchen floors of these twenty-five houses are made of cement. The size of these kitchens is 17 feet by 14 feet, and the rooms are of the same dimensions. There are no drying greens, but poles are put up for the ropes. The houses are owned by the Pumpherston Oil Company. There are forty-three houses in Breich, occupied by 224 persons.
Deans and Starlaw
In Deans there are thirty-six .houses leased to the Pumpherston Oil Company. . Twenty-four houses consist of room and kitchen, and twelve have an attic in addition. Rental for the former is 2s. 9d., and for the latter is 3s. 3d. per week, inclusive of rates. Coal-cellars are provided, but no washhouses.
These houses form three sides of a square. Three stand-pipes supply the water. Clothes poles are erected. Privies and ash-pits are in centre of Square. Sewage is by open channel in front of the houses.
At Starlaw the rows consist of thirty houses, twenty of which consist of a room and kitchen, and ten consist of a single apartment. Coal-cellars are provided, but no washhouses. The rental is 2s. 9d. and 1s. l0 1/2d. per week respectively, inclusive of rates. Water is supplied by stand-pipes. The privies and ash-pits are very unsatisfactory. There are four privies for the thirty houses. The sewage is by open channel.
These houses are old, and of a poor type, and ought to be replaced by a much better standard at once. We understand these houses are leased by the Pumpherston Oil Company, and they certainly are by far the most unsatisfactory of this Company's houses.
The total number of houses at Deans and Starlaw is seventy-three, while the population is 422.
Tarbrax village, situated in the Parish of Carnwath, in the County of Lanark, is owned by the Pumpherston Oil Company. Some 126 houses consist of room, kitchen, and scullery, with boiler, sink, and coal- cellar, and a water-closet for each tenant. The rents range from 2s. 10 1/2d. to 3s. 3d. weekly. There are also 120 houses consisting of room, attic, kitchen, scullery, with sink and boiler, and a water-closet for every two houses. The rental of this type of house is 4s. per week, inclusive of rates.
A great number of the houses have cement pavement between each house. Some have gardens, with clothes poles at each corner, while others have greens surrounded by small wooden railings. There is a good drainage system, but the sewage is disposed of in a field much too near the village, and the prevailing winds carry a most objectionable smell over the village. The main street is lighted by the Company, and refuse is removed by them also. An Institute, with reading room, library, and rooms for games, is provided. The workers pay 1d. per week for its maintenance. Forty new houses have just been completed, which makes a total of 296. The population is 1571.
Houses of Private Landlords - Broxburn
The houses of private landlords are, in the main, better built, with better accommodation, and the rental is correspondingly greater. For room and kitchen, with scullery, water-closet, coal-cellar, and common wash-house, in tenement buildings, the rental will vary from £9 to £11, with rates in addition. On the other hand, there are a great number of houses which are very much worse in appearance, and also in accommodation, than many of the Oil Companies' rows. For example, in the east end of Broxburn there are some twenty-seven houses for which there is only one ash-pit and seven water-closets, while fourteen of the tenants have the common use of one wash-house. The houses on the basement are £10, with rates in addition, and are built back to back. The ash-pits of neighbouring buildings are about 15 feet from the windows. The smell arising therefrom is horrible, while in summer time the air is simply humming with the prolific house-fly, and serious trouble breaks out from time to time as a consequence. In another tenement of twenty-seven houses there are only seven water-closets, with two ash-pits and two washhouses for all the tenants. Coal-cellars are provided, but three outside sinks have to serve the needs of sixteen tenants. The rents vary from £7 to £10 (rates in addition) for room and kitchen. The former rent is for attic dwellings.
Bank Buildings consist of twelve room and kitchen houses, built back to back. There is one water-closet for every three tenants, and one washhouse for twelve tenants. Three stand-pipes supply the water, and the sewage is disposed of by means of brick channels, and consequently is a menace to health. The rental of these houses is 4s. 2d. per week, inclusive of rates.
In the Old Town there are ash-pits only a few yards from main road, and in one particular property, eight tenants use two privies and one washhouse ; the rental is 4s. 2d. weekly, inclusive of rates, for room and kitchen. The sanitary conditions, generally speaking, in the Old Town are very bad indeed, and call for serious attention.
But even with all these bad conditions, there is a great demand for the houses. In Broxburn, West Calder, Mid Calder, East Calder, and Winchburgh, houses are very difficult to get. There are hundreds of houses which should be condemned as unfit for human habitation. They cannot be made sanitary or modern ; they should be pulled down and rebuilt. But because other and better houses are not to be had, the County Council are reluctant to enforce Closing Orders. Nor will the Council fulfil their duty by building houses to meet requirements.