Housing of Scottish Miners – Report on the Housing of Miners of Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire

By John C. M'Vail, M.D., LL.D. County Medical Officer - Part 3


(a) Sources.- The sources of water supply for colliery villages vary as they do for other rural villages, but with the additional variation that water is not infrequently obtained from the coal mines.

Upland Surface Water.- The mining villages in East Dunbartonshire and Central Stirlingshire are outwith the area of any rate-provided supply, but East Stirlingshire is in a different position. The northern part of that district is nearly all served by the Falkirk and Larbert Water Trust, and the southern part is wholly within the area provided for under the East Stirlingshire Water Act of 1900. Both supplies consist of upland surface water from the Denny hills in Central Stirlingshire, and the introduction of the latter scheme about ten years ago made a vast improvement in the health conditions of the area which it serves. Unfortunately, as already mentioned, the coal seams which were being wrought in the extreme south of Slamannan and part of Muiravonside are now almost exhausted, and deeper seams have not yet been opened up, so that part of the area for which this water was provided at great cost is in the meantime almost depopulated, other industries not having, up till now, been established to take the place of coal mining. Notwithstanding this, the prosperity of the district as a whole has been so much increased by the provision of a systematic water supply that the water rate, though still high, is now appreciably lower than it was. Before the introduction of the scheme the conditions were deplorably bad.  The mining operations had dried up some deep wells, and part of the surface water was from very peaty land. Both quantity and quality were defective, and in dry weather every hole in the moorland which had retained a little water was searched for and emptied, whilst any running pipe yielding a driblet from old mine workings or otherwise could be seen surrounded by a dozen women and children waiting their turn to collect a gallon or two for household use.

Before the East Stirlingshire water became available aerated water sellers from Falkirk did a very large business in the district, and, a family whose rent was 2s. 6d. weekly sometimes paid other 2s. 6d. for lemonade and soda water, this being equal to a water rate of 20s. per £ for drinking purposes only. I have even heard of a collier resorting to soda water for the purpose of washing his face. But the whole district is now within the area of supply.

Mine Water serves several large villages in the two counties. Such water may be good or bad according to circumstances. As regards safety it is essential that it should not be derived from working levels. Yet instances to the contrary have not been unknown, and one very serious outbreak of enteric fever due to this cause occurred in the earliest days of County Council government, in an East Stirlingshire village which is now unroofed and ruinous. The infection evidently began with a miner suffering from an unrecognised attack of the disease. The water in the mine was polluted excrementally, and was pumped into a pond near the village, where it was open to further pollution. The disease spread and some of the alarmed villagers went for water to the open well of an adjoining village. Into this well they dipped their pails, and its water also became infected, so that the epidemic spread through both villages and about 90 cases occurred. It happened that the owners of the village first infected had also a colliery in Lanarkshire, receiving water from a neighbouring town, and they arranged to carry water from this source by rail to their Stirlingshire village, the conveyance being by pithead boilers placed on trucks.

Where water is tapped when a shaft is being sunk, an excavation or 'lodgment' may be made at one side, and higher up than the first coal seam. The water is thence pumped to the surface and may be stored in an old pithead engine boiler, placed perhaps on a waste bing, or on high ground near the pit, from which it gravitates to the village. If this is the method of supply, attention has to be given to several points. As the pumping machinery occasionally gets out of order, storage has to be sufficient to tide over the time required for repair. This sometimes involves the construction of a small reservoir or tank of cement concrete. Such a tank is much better than the iron boiler, in which water may become quite tepid in warm summer weather. The boiler has to be cleaned out now and then to remove any deposited matter. For convenience of cleaning it is better that the boiler be not laid quite horizontally on the brick piers which are its usual support, but be tilted so that sediment may gravitate to one end. In connection with one puzzling outbreak of enteric fever in a mining village, apparently associated with such a supply, I found that the man whose duties included periodical cleansing of the boiler had to go right inside, and that he did so whilst wearing boots which might have been polluted by human excrement.

Mine Water Supply during Strikes and Locks-out.- Where a village uses water pumped from a mine, serious difficulty may arise during a strike or lock-out when the pit is closed down and the pumping stopped. On one occasion a water famine was threatened from this cause, and the colliery owners, with whom I communicated, sent one of their servants on a door-to-door visitation offering to resume pumping if the householders would make a sufficient contribution to cover the outlay. This, as I heard, they declined to do, but, fortunately before the crisis came, the difficulty disappeared, whether owing to abundant rainfall or to the ending of the strike I cannot now recall. The possibility of such stoppage of water supply should be prevented by previous agreement of some sort. If the miners are to continue in the occupation of their houses they should equally continue to be supplied with water.

Hardness of Water.- A point requiring attention when water is obtained front a mine is its quality as regards hardness, which may be as high as 20 or 30 degrees. When used for clothes washing most of the hardness, if due to carbonates, is got rid of by the preliminary boiling, but there being no hot water circulatory system in miners' houses, cold water is commonly used for ablutions and various other purposes. It is not merely wasteful of soap, but is inefficient for washing, and is so unpleasant to work with that cleanliness is discouraged. Very hard water used for drinking is believed to be sometimes detrimental to the digestive organs. Though the methods of softening hard water are well known, and neither difficult of application nor unduly expensive, yet they are not invariably adopted even for the supply of a considerable village, though for the largest of the new mining populations in Central Stirlingshire softening is regularly effected in connection with a mechanical filter. The District Committee endeavoured to form a Special Water Supply district to include all the new villages here, but the scheme was opposed by some of the owners, and their opposition was successful.

Independently of hardness, one large village near the tidal part of the Forth could not use mine water owing to the presence in it of chloride of sodium. Application was made to the adjoining Burgh of Stirling, but the supply there is limited, and all that could be afforded was water for drinking, cooking, and other indoor purposes. Washing houses and water closets have accordingly been supplied from an adjoining stream which is more or less open to pollution, and the occurrence of several cases of enteric fever led to the giving of public notice by placards and otherwise that washing house water was on no account to be used for drinking.

The quantity of water pumped from some mines is so limited as to be insufficient for water closets, and this affects the whole problem of refuse removal. Also, in such circumstances, baths are manifestly out of the question.

Other Sources.- Various other sources of water for mining villages consist of small local gravitation schemes. If the supply consists of surface or sub-soil water it may be liable to pollution from cultivated fields or roadways, and may require filtration to make it even reasonably safe, but there may be difficulties in the way due to insufficient fall from the source to the area of supply, whilst a thorough scheme of sand filtration, such as is met with in a special water supply district under charge of the sanitary authority, is hardly to be found in connection with a colliery.

In the parish of Cumbernauld, in East Dunbartonshire, the water supply of the principal villages, including two colliery rows, is very defective, and the District Committee prepared a scheme for formation of a Special Water District, The scheme was not opposed by the mining firm nor by the miners, but by the residents in other villages. The opposition was unsuccessful before the Sheriff Substitute, but on appeal the decision was reversed, so that no water district has been formed. One of the mining rows has since then been visited by an outbreak of enteric fever, probably due to contamination of the water supply.

Water Supply to Mine Workings.- There is occasionally reason to believe that a miner's attack of enteric fever has been due to his using polluted water obtained whilst at work underground. Following on a recent occurrence of this sort, the colliery owners, at my request, issued notices to the men pointing out the danger of taking water from the working levels, and requesting that they bring with them in a small can a sufficiency for drinking purposes. One miner who had been affected in the manner indicated told me that owing to the lowness of the roof of the underground road to his working place, it was very inconvenient to carry anything with him, but I was assured by the firm that there was nothing in this contention, as the coal bogies had to travel the same road. Where practicable it is a convenience to have a supply on tap at the pit head.

(b) Distribution.- Whether from a public supply or from a mine the water to a village may be distributed by gravitation either by pillar wells or stand pipes on the roadways, or it may be led into sinks in kitchen window places or sculleries. Manifestly, in the interests of cleanliness, it is much better that the water should be piped into every house, and in some of the more modern villages this has been done, the water tap being placed over a good white glazed earthenware or enamelled sink in the window place, or, still better, in the scullery. It has already been stated that of the 873 houses erected under the Building Bye-laws, 589 have indoor water supply, but that of the 1,643 older houses of which particulars are given only about 45 have water piped into them. The ordinary supply is by pillar wells or stand pipes. These are more or less convenient according to their number and situation. In several villages there are not enough of them, and water has to be carried too far to many of the houses. This tends to uncleanliness. Not infrequently the supply is connected with washing houses.

(4) BATHS.

As already stated, only 69 of the miners' houses have baths, and these are without hot-water supply. Of course it may be said that in such houses baths are not always, and possibly even not often used for their intended purpose, but they certainly make for cleanliness, and there can be no doubt that in houses which possess them they will come to be more and more used as time passes. At a Dunbartonshire village a reading and recreation hall have been built, and in connection with it there are separate sets of baths for the two sexes. Those for women are said to be little used.

As regards the miners themselves, the ideal arrangement would be to have baths built at the pitheads - perhaps large spray baths which could be used by a number of men at the same time on coming up from their day's work; but unless there were to be some definite obligation on the part of the miners to use them, the mine owners could hardly be expected to provide them. I understand that there is obligatory use of baths at mines in Westphalia. [See p. 69, with reference to the provisions of the Coal Mines Bill, 1911.]


Several years ago the late Sheriff-Substitute Gebbie of Dunbarton decided in a case raised by the Local Authority of the Burgh of Kirkintilloch that want of a washing house for use of the occupiers of certain small tenement dwellings was a nuisance under the Public Health Act. That is the only case I know of where the question has been the subject of legal proceedings, and the provision of domestic washing houses is not mentioned in the Act, nor can it be required under any building bye-laws.

But measures which make cleanliness easy are always of value, and it is obvious that they include proper facilities for washing body and bed clothing. The conducting of a family washing in a tub set on a chair in a small kitchen, perhaps in wet weather, with children playing around and inhaling the smelling steamy atmosphere, is unquestionably deleterious to health. The water has to be carried from a well somewhere outside, and has to be boiled on the kitchen fire which is likewise used for cooking. The whole conditions are bad for all concerned, alike as respects health and comfort and temper, and when all is over the washing is very likely to have been badly done.

We have seen that all the newer miners' rows are provided with washing houses. In the best of them there is a clothes boiler in a scullery attached to each individual house. I have not met with any cases where hot water is supplied by a tap connected with a circulatory system from the kitchen range. The highest standard yet reached appears to be the provision of a cold-water tap over an iron boiler with a small fireplace underneath. Houses with these conveniences are greatly appreciated by miners' wives, and the sculleries are kept very clean. Next in order of merit comes a good outside washing house, well lit and ventilated and set apart for a specified number of households. The best sort are of good dimensions with a concrete floor sloping towards a gully trap. Glazed earthenware washtubs are occasionally provided, but usually each housewife brings her own domestic tub. The water is heated in a built-in iron boiler with a fireplace underneath. Occasionally there is a water tap directly over the boiler, but more frequently the tap is attached to a side wall, and the water has to be lifted in pails into the boiler. Less satisfactory is a common arrangement where the water supply is outside the washing house, either by a standpipe against the wall, or by an adjoining pillar well. Worst of all in these respects are washing houses built in blocks at the end of a long village street, and quite without water supply, which has to be carried from pillar wells at a very inconvenient distance. I have seen such washing houses allowed to go to wreck, with broken windows and cracked boilers only half supported by ruinous brickwork.

Sometimes a washing house is in the same block of outhouses with a foul smelling midden, and the heat of the washing house increases the effluvium. Similar nuisance may result if liquid from the ashpit passes not into a covered drain, but into an open channel close to the washing house door. The best remedy consists in abolishing the ashpit and providing dust-bins instead.

Where the domestic water supply is very hard, rain water, to be used as far as it will go for clothes washing, is usually collected in barrels fed by down pipes from the eaves gutters. In that connection a primitive device is still to be seen in some colliery villages. The short down pipe above every water barrel has an old stocking tied over its end, and the water passes through the stocking foot into the barrel. The stocking serves the double purpose of preventing the wind on a breezy day blowing the water past the opening in the barrel top, and of intercepting solid matter washed from the roofs at the beginning of every shower. These rudimentary filters were quite a feature in some colliery rows. None of the houses are furnished with the rainwater separators which were depicted in text-books of public health. The water barrel, of course, has a discharge tap at which pails can be filled to be carried to the boiler in the washing house.

But three-fourths of the older houses are still without any washing house accommodation whatever, and the inhabitants are subjected to all the consequent evils and annoyances. Even when such houses are being renovated under pressure by the sanitary authority there is the greatest difficulty in getting washing houses erected. Miners' wives, it is urged, will not use washing houses, but prefer to do the work in their own kitchens. The accusation is utterly unjustifiable. No doubt the worst class of washing houses, inconveniently situated and without a water tap, will not be used. That is the fault, however, not of the miner's wife but of the provision made by the mine owner. Where a colliery village is attached to a nearly exhausted working and is likely to be abandoned in a year or two there may be justification for not building new washing houses, but where there is any prospect of even moderate length of occupation, washing houses should be insisted on, and if the Public Health Act is too weak for the purpose, it should be strengthened.


I presume that at most large collieries there must be more or less exhaust steam going to waste. If that is so, and if the village is quite close at hand, this steam might perhaps be utilized for heating water for the washing houses, baths, and other purposes. A steam coil or jet might be led into a common water tank, and the heated water piped from it. Even if waste steam had to be supplemented, such a system might he both economical and convenient, as compared with that under which every miner's wife has to kindle and keep up her own fire in the washing house. And if the water were hard owing to dissolved carbonates, it would be softened by the heating, the precipitated carbonates being removed from the tank when required.


Situated, as colliery villages are, in the open country, and perhaps consisting of only a single street, with houses on one or both sides, there is nearly always ample natural facility for clothes drying and bleaching. Clothes poles are usually provided, but sometimes they are allowed to decay without renewal. Bleaching by spreading articles on drying greens is less common, not for want of land, but for want of fence or enclosure to keep out dogs and children. In some rows such enclosures do exist and are regularly used by good housewives who have a healthy pride in the whiteness of their household linen.


As already stated, the typical drainage of a miners' row is by an open surface channel or gutter some distance from the house doors. Where water supply is insufficient such a channel is better than an underground drain as it can be swept out regularly by the village scavenger, but if there is enough water for flushing, a covered drain is better.

The open channels vary from best to worst as do all the other details of a mining village. The best consist of a semi-circular invert of cement concrete, perhaps a foot or more in width, at a sufficient distance from the dwelling house, and regularly cleaned out, not merely by a scavenger, but by an automatic flush tank [In the photograph (Fig. 2) at p. 14 the small white outhouse near the public road contains an automatic flush tank.] placed at the head of the invert and discharging a large volume of water several times a day. This arrangement exists at several colliery villages belonging to one firm. The channels should be on the near side of the ashpit, as otherwise slop water will be thrown into the ashpit to save the trouble of carrying it further. The worst drainage is by a dirty gutter a few feet from the house doors, constructed of bricks, with an insufficient fall from end to end, with many irregularities and depressions in which filth collects. These gutters are unprovided with any flush tank, and are incapable of being cleaned by the most conscientious scavenger. They may still be found at one or two old rows belonging to nearly exhausted collieries where the owners would rather close the houses than spend money on improvement. [One such row has been closed since this Report was written.]

One point of practical difference between a well-defined semicircular open invert and an ill-defined nearly flat brickwork channel is its effect on the method of emptying slop water. In the former case the housewife will carry her pail right to the channel and tilt it over the edge directly into it. In the latter the pailful of slops is apt to be shied from the house door merely in the direction of the channel, and to defile the ground between. Similarly, where there is underground drainage, the article known as Denholm's Sink, designed by a former sanitary inspector in East Stirlingshire, has a direct influence towards cleanliness. It is a strong oblong basin of glazed earthenware, 6 or 8 inches deep, bottomed with a good perforated iron grating, the perforations widening from above downwards, and with a syphon trap between the sink and the drain. Slop pails, I find, are emptied directly into these. Such apparently trifling details make all the difference between a clean and dirty area in front of a miners' row.

One possible disadvantage of even a well-formed open channel, as contrasted with an underground drain, was exemplified in the course of a recent outbreak of enteric fever at a Stirlingshire village. In mistaken zeal for cleanliness the ashpits were hosed out with water which flowed into the channels, and slop water from the houses was also, of course, emptied into them. The surrounding area is the children's ordinary playground, and there was nothing to hinder them soiling their bare feet or hands or toys in the fouled water of the channels. The village consists of several parallel rows of two-storey houses, all but one of which had these open channels. Their water supply is from pillar wells, and a few yards on the further side of the channels are blocks containing privies, ashpits, and washing houses. But the most recently built row has much better arrangements. Each house has a water closet and a scullery with a clothes boiler, and a glazed earthenware sink with a water tap. The drainage here is underground. This row remained practically free from enteric fever whilst all the others suffered. The whole refuse disposal arrangements have now been very greatly improved, and further improvement is in progress.

Drainage Outfalls.- The health of a village is little influenced by the ultimate disposal of its sewage if it is immediately conveyed away to a sufficient distance to prevent nuisance. It may be dealt with by rough irrigation on waste land, or enter a ditch which acts as a nitrifying channel, or be treated in modern purification works with septic tank and percolation bed. But where the surface channel discharges into a foul open ditch close to the end of a colliery row effluvium nuisance cannot but result in warm weather. Once more, this may be the case in old rows belonging to mines which are likely to be closed at a very early date. But it does not justify a nuisance, and if closing of the houses would result in the miners having to travel a much greater distance to their work until the colliery is shut down, the difficulty can be minimised by good scavenging and periodical cleaning of the ditch.


Gardens are attached to the great majority of rows. Sometimes a flower and vegetable plot extends from the back or front of each individual house. At other times a stretch of adjoining ground is subdivided into allotments. In many cases there is no sufficient enclosure or fencing for separation of one plot from another, or the only fences may have been erected by miners fond of flower culture and desirous of protecting their own particular patch. Many of the gardens are untended, it may be because the occupier takes no interest in horticulture, but sometimes, in part at least, owing to the want of fencing. Colliery firms might do much at very little cost to encourage gardening, and so discourage more objectionable methods of spending leisure time. Here are photographs of well-kept garden plots belonging to two of the rows in Cowie village, reproduced from a picture postcard (Fig 19 & 20). In both cases it will be noted that there is direct access from the house to the garden.

Fig 19 & 20



(a) Roadways.- Miners' rows may be built alongside of rate-maintained public roads, with good and direct entrance to the houses. At other times the village has been set down in a field, perhaps a quarter of a mile from a highway. The connecting private road may be extremely bad, with boulders and deep ruts, almost impracticable for tradesmen's carts. The same condition of private roadways may exist between neighbouring hamlets, all alike distant from a highway. The roads may, indeed, be quite dangerous to vehicular traffic, or even to foot passengers, especially in the dark, as they are always entirely unlit. Within Special Scavenging Districts formed under the statutes sanitary authorities have very valuable powers for requiring private streets and footways to be "levelled, macadamised, paved, channelled, and made good." But colliery rows are very seldom in special scavenging districts, and it is only since this report was begun to be written that a local authority has succeeded in getting a decision in the Sheriff Court that such a road, if very muddy and dirty, may constitute a nuisance, injurious or dangerous to health, under section 16 of the Public Health Act. I am of opinion that there should be definite powers to compel owners to provide safe and suitable access to their villages.

Within the rows themselves - as distinguished from their approaches - the condition of the roadway has much influence on the general amenity and comfort of life. One large village consists of several streets whose surface is all askew in respect that they have a gradient not only from end to end, which is very useful, but also laterally, one side being lower than the other, so that surface water is carried diagonally across in irregular ruts and channels. Sometimes the private roads in mining villages are allowed to remain far too long without repair or attention, so that depressions form and are filled with water and mud in wet weather, causing children to get their feet and footgear wet in going to school where they have to sit all day and may readily catch cold. Once more it is the older rows which mainly show these defects, but in this matter I am of opinion that there is no excuse whatever for neglect. However short may be the prospective life of a colliery, enough should be spent to maintain its streets in reasonable repair. There is no such capital involved here as in renovation of village houses.

(b) Footpaths.- Footpaths are in some respects even more important than cart roadways. A good path of cement concrete laid along the door fronts of a row of houses makes a great difference in cleanliness within the house. In its absence dirt from the outside is carried in on the boots of every entrant, and a tidy housewife despairs of keeping a clean floor, and loses her temper with the children coming and going at their play. Several villages and rows, new and old, have good footpaths (see photograph Fig. 2, p. 14), but the majority have not. They have been provided as part of some recent renovation schemes.

(c) Doorsteps.- Even a good doorstep of cement concrete or flagstones projecting forward a foot or so in front of the doorway is of much use. Many of the older rows and some which are not so old are defective in this respect. There may be practically no doorstep, or only the remains of a few broken and worn bricks. Here again the powers of local authorities are at present insufficient to compel what is needful.


I have taken no special note of the methods of artificial lighting in vogue at the colliery villages. Excepting at Carron, none of the rows are within special lighting districts so that the roadways at night are lit only from the windows of the houses. The usual illuminant is paraffin oil. Much less commonly, coal gas is available. Electric light is supplied for the houses in Cowie village in Central Stirlingshire.

(12) RENTS.

From the Counties Valuation Rolls for the year 1908-9, I have made a note of the rents of 2,735 houses in non-burghal areas, belonging to mining firms and occupied by their employees. The total rent of the 2,735 is £15,603, the average being £5 14s. 1d. Approximately, these houses are divisible, as regards number of apartments, into 495 of one apartment, 2,096 of two apartments, 126 of three, 14 of four, and 4 of more than four apartments. Of the 495 houses of one apartment the total rent was .£1,367, and the average rent £3 14s. 9d. Of 2,096 houses of two apartments the total rent was £12,715, and the average rent £6 1s. 4d. Of the 126 three-roomed houses the total rent was £1,319, and the average rent £10 9s. 5d. Of the 14 four-roomed houses the total rent was £141, and the average rent £10 2s. Of the four houses of more than four apartments the total rent was £71, and the average £17 12s, 6d. The figures are shown in the following table :

The rents for houses of the same number of apartments in different parts of the counties vary very considerably. In this connection, East Stirlingshire, where the bulk of the houses are old, may be compared with Central Stirlingshire, which includes the newest villages. Of 670 two-roomed houses in East Stirlingshire the total rent was £3,139, the average being £4 13s. 8d. Of 946 two-roomed houses in Central Stirlingshire the total rent was £6,816 13s. and the average rent £7 5s. In East Dunbartonshire the age of the houses may be roughly taken as midway between those of East and Central Stirlingshire respectively. Of 466 two-roomed houses in East Dunbartonshire the total rent was £2,662 6s. and the average rent £5 14s.

(b) Deduction of Rents and Rates from Wages.- The mining firms have the great advantage of not requiring to collect their rents, the amount being regularly deducted from the miners' wages. In nearly all cases the public rates are similarly deducted, and paid by the mine owners to the rating authorities. Everyone has heard of the difficulties as to rents and evictions which may arise during strikes and locks-out; but discussion of these would be quite outside the scope of this report.

(c) Proportion of Income devoted to House Accommodation.- It certainly cannot be said that the actual amount of money spent in rents is high. Moderate rentals may perhaps be used as an inducement to miners to live near their work, When considered in respect to wages it is to be remembered that there are on the average 1.65 mine workers to each house. But these are not all on full pay, as they include boys and a few females. The share of income which should be devoted to house accommodation depends on various factors, such as the size of the family, the amount of income, the amount and kind of accommodation obtainable for a given rent in a particular locality, and the other charges which are to be met by the income. A man with large means is of course in a position to devote a greater than ordinary proportion of his income to house rent, whilst a labourer has, in the first place, to provide for the actual necessities of existence, in the way of food and clothing. But a reasonable amount of house accommodation approaches very nearly to a necessity of existence. It is essentially unprofitable for a miner to occupy a very small house with too little air space, and without the conveniences for a cleanly and wholesome life.

(d) Mine Owners' Control of Standard of Housing.- It seems to me that the answer to the question, What shall a miner spend in house rent, lies very largely with the mine owner. At some collieries the housing is very much better than at others, and if only good houses are provided, only good houses can be occupied. The miner's pay is practically the same all over the country, there being a standard rate of wages; the mine owner, it may be assumed, charges a reasonable and not very widely varying rate of interest for the houses he builds : if he builds inferior houses he charges less, if superior houses, he charges more. Therefore, up to a certain point he controls the situation, and he has it in his power to raise appreciably the standard of house accommodation. This is a most valuable power. The best class of miners are the least likely to grumble about being compelled to live in good houses, whilst the grumbles of the lowest class should be disregarded. It is a benefit to their families that the latter class should spend more on housing and less on liquor, and they should be compelled to spend it. There is no fear of this power of employers being abused ; the top limit which a miner can pay is soon reached, and the owner, as a sensible business man, must know when to stop.

I would be very glad to see a mining firm make the experiment of building a few houses on the cottage plan which prevails in English villages, the houses being usually, or at least very often, occupied by persons with less income than the average miner. The type is a small two-storey "self-contained" house with kitchen and sitting room on the ground flat and two small bedrooms above, these being reached by a narrow stairway. The two apartments occupied by a Scottish miner generally contain more furniture than all the four rooms of the ordinary English villager. The latter has a great advantage in respect of privacy and also in ventilation. Whatever be the practice as to opening bedroom windows at night I have been struck by the constancy with which in some English villages they are left wide open during the day, the upper rooms being then entirely unoccupied, so that the inmates retire to rest in a clean and healthy atmosphere, and by next morning the living rooms downstairs have also had the benefit of a period free from occupation. Housing habits are difficult to alter, but it is remarkable that the difference between north and south of the border has been so long and rigidly maintained. Figure 21 and plans (p. 61, Fig 22) of part of a row at Dennyloanhead in Central Stirlingshire include some houses which make a cautious approach to the English style. [The plans (p. 61) also show houses of two apartments, one above and one below, but these are not referred to in the text.] They were not built by mine owners, but were taken on a long lease immediately after being built. They are not large, containing, as they do, only three apartments, but they have an upper as well as a lower flat, and are neatly and tastefully fitted internally. The outhouses and sanitary conveniences are very satisfactory. It was at first intended that the kitchen should contain no bedplaces, but this part of the plan was departed from, owing to the fear that a miner would not take a house without the customary sleeping accommodation in the living room. They are much appreciated by their occupiers, and more of the same sort are intended to be built. The rents, inclusive of all rates and taxes, are 5s. 9d. weekly or £14 19s. per annum. Something of the same kind would be a great advance on the ordinary type of miner's dwelling; and if the style and fitting were plainer, the rent might be correspondingly less. The rent of the three-roomed houses at Cowie is £11 8s., and they are essentially similar. See plans on p. 27.

Fig 21 & 22


(e) Cost of Miners' Houses.- I am told on good authority that, in erecting a row of miners' houses, the sum of £120 per house will suffice to cover the following general specification, if building materials are obtainable near at hand :

A good room and kitchen house with lobby, back and front door, scullery with sink and water connection, water closet, two iron portable bedsteads in kitchen, grates, painting, drains complete to connection with main drain if near at hand, 15 feet of roadmaking around each block of houses, and 20 feet width of roadway between blocks ; houses to be built of brick, roughcast with cement and roof slated.

A similar house built of stone would cost £20 extra, for lathing, and labour in dressing stones, sills, lintels, etc. In my informant's view, the rental of a house of this description should be 3s. 3d, per week or £8 9s. yearly, the owner paying the rates. The cost of roadmaking he estimates as follow:-
Assuming the road to be 27 feet wide with 9 inches of excavation, 8 inches of bottoming and 4 inches of whin on top, the cost would be £1 7s. per yard for the full width of the road or 3s. per square yard. Kerb and channel in addition would cost 3s. 9d. per lineal yard.

Go to next page