Addiewell in 1995

Location of Addiewell in the southwest corner of West Lothian.

A community and economic profile of the village nearly 20 years ago

This article appeared in the newsletter, Digest, Autumn 1995, published by West Lothian Council Economic Development.

The village of Addiewell (and Loganlea) has been on the receiving end of some of the worst effects of economic change in recent decades. 

The modern community of Addiewell arose from the decision by James ‘Paraffin’ Young to relocate his oil and chemical works to the area in 1865.  Although a large number of houses were built to accommodate the workers, the only remaining evidence is Faraday Place, comprising superior dwellings, intended for works foremen.

By the mid-1920s Addiewell was a thriving community with an influx of population from far and wide, most noticeably from Ireland   The modern Parish Church was built in 1885 and St Thomas’ RC began in 1913.  An upturn in the oil industry after the Great War brought further immigration, this time from as far afield as Poland and Lithuania – so much so that for a time, Livingstone Street was dubbed ‘the Polish Corridor’.  The population peaked at 3,141 in 1921.  The latest estimate for 1994 puts it at 1,333.

Initial redevelopment commenced in 1934 with municipal housing built at Moorelands by the then Midlothian County Council with further development by the Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA) after the Second World War.  Today, the vast majority of housing in Addiewell is public sector rented.


Statistical Factfile: Addiewell



West Lothian

Total number of jobs




Number of employers




Number of unemployed (%)




Number unemployed (% August)*




Youth unemployed (%)




Permanent sick (% of economically active)




Low paying occupations (% of employees)




Car ownership rate (% of households)




Housing: owner occupation (%)




*Figures for West Calder ward: includes Addiewell, Loganlea, and part of West Calder.  Ward unemployment figures are an underestimate of the true level and should be used for comparison purposes only.

Closure of the oil shale works in the late 1950s coincided with termination of working at Dykes Colliery.  Stanton and Staveley’s concrete pipe plant was attracted by the promotion efforts of the Council, but this period saw the transformation of Addiewell to largely dormitory status, a fate common to many former mining communities.  Convener of the new West Lothian Council, Councillor Joe Thomas

Photo:Provost Joe Thomas, Councillor for Addiewell ward in the 1990s

Provost Joe Thomas, Councillor for Addiewell ward in the 1990s

WLDC. All rights reserved.

– a well known local figure – stresses the importance of these changes:  he says ‘There needs to be greater understanding of the isolation of villages like Addiewell.  Heavy industry has moved on, leaving little scope for new employment opportunities.  Circumstances like these have tested Addiewell’s community spirit to the full.’

Remember, this was Addiewell in 1995.  Has it changed for the better?


The loss of local employment and Addiewell’s relatively remote location in one of the furthest flung corners of what was the County of Midlothian have contributed to making it one of the most disadvantaged communities in West Lothian. Unemployment is an obvious problem with levels noticeably above average.  However, official unemployment figures are far from the complete story.  Analysis of the 1991 Census revealed that the village had West Lothian’s highest proportion of ‘Permanently Sick’ in the 16+ population and the lowest rate of car ownership in West Lothian (a double disadvantage to jobseekers, given the poor public transport connections with areas of job growth, such as Livingston).  For those in work, it has been found that Addiewell has a greater proportion of workers in low paying occupations (almost half) than almost anywhere else in West Lothian.  West Lothian’s Economic Development analysis of relative deprivation (using Townsend Combined Z-Score method) showed Addiewell to be West Lothian’s most deprived community.

Councillor Thomas puts the situation in a more human perspective:  ‘Places like Addiewell require a disproportionate level of support from agencies such as the new council in view of what they’ve been through.  Small scale house building shows that there is some confidence for the future, but there remains a great need for additional support before Addiewell can really stand on its own feet again.’

This page was added by Sybil Cavanagh on 07/03/2013.

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