Meadowhead House

Photo:Meadowhead House.

Meadowhead House.

West Lothian Local History Library. All rights reserved. S1. 162

Photo:Meadowhead house.

Meadowhead house.

West Lothian Local History Library. All rights reserved. S1. 161.

Meadowhead House, westof the bonded warehouses.

Meadowhead by West Calder, is a fine small mansion house dating from the 18th century,and substantially re-built and extended in the late 19th century as a home for himself by West Calder architect, J.G. Fairley.

Meadowhead House, as we see it today, was the creation of James Graham Fairley, a West Lothian architect.  He was born and brought up in West Calder, the son of joiner William Fairley.

After apprenticeship with his father, he studied civil engineering at Edinburgh University, where for a time he was a fellow student of Robert Louis Stevenson.  Then he made a successful name for himself as an architect.  It’s surprising how many of West Lothian’s public buildings were designed by him:

·         The former Linlithgow Academy (now Low Port Primary School)

·         The UF Church in Station Road, Broxburn

·         South Church, Uphall

·         Parish Church, Blackridge

·         The Public School, Addiewell

·         Balbardie Primary School, Bathgate

·         Co-operative store in West Calder

·         Co-operative store, Pumpherston

·         Dreadnought Hotel, Bathgate

·         St David’s Church, Bathgate (now Chalmers Nightclub)

He was also architect of many buildings further afield – the house on Dean Bridge in Edinburgh, Balerno Parish Church, St Mary’s Chapel at Ratho, and Dundee High School for Girls. 

Fairley bought Meadowhead House for his own family in the 1890s.  It was a plain 18th century farmhouse , which he extended and re-modelled, adding the prominent tower with its panelled tower room with views in every direction.  He and his family lived there until around 1930 when he moved to Portobello.

In the ‘Illustrated architectural guide to West Lothian’, the writers describe Meadowhead House as ‘a typical three-bay Improvement farm houses extended in 1899 by J.G. Fairley as his house and office.  Extraordinary result of a large, two-storey building dominated by a four-storey single-bay tower rising above the entrance.  All the baronial tricks a generation late: string courses, shallow corbelling, slender crowstepped gables and an enormous dormer window at the skyline.’

The house became a hotel in 1954, then reverted to a private house about 1994.

A recent owner described the house as ‘full of surprises, with lots of wonderful nooks and crannies... I found a boxroom that had been completely closed off and forgotten about.  Underneath the house we also found secret tunnels, although they don’t seem to lead anywhere.’


Based partly on an article by Helen Rowe in the Edinburgh Evening News of 24 September, 1999, page 18; and on other sources in the West Lothian Local History Library. 


Obituary_of_J_G_Fairley.pdf (94k)

This page was added by Sybil Cavanagh on 17/04/2012.
Comments about this page

Good to see a list of J Graham Fairley's buildings. He also designed Bathgate Co-operative Society Building 1902 (destroyed by fire 1996), Bathgate Public School Mid Street 1882(demolished 1970s), EU Church Bathgate, Armadale Public School 1879 and "its extension" 1911 and a little gem - Bellsquarry School 1909

By Ian Hossack
On 05/08/2013

I was born in this house in 1957. It was a working farm until the early 1960's and then converted into an Hotel and Function suite (the 'Steading).

By Roddy Gillespie
On 14/08/2013

My late Uncle, James McGonigal, was a "slater & plasterer", and for a long time lived in a small caravan in the grounds of the hotel. His billhead carried that address.

By Douglas Abercrombie
On 24/11/2013

On 22nd October 1966 my Aunt (Gracie Hardie) and Uncle (Alex Corstorphine) had their wedding reception at The Meadowhead Hotel after their marriage in Uphall North Parish Church. I was only 9 years old at the time but still remember it.

By Colin Hamilton
On 26/03/2020

I used to frequent the Hotel for a meal on many occasions. A lovely, even romantic setting with great food.

By Neil Richardson
On 15/04/2023

Used to go here on a Sunday night when bands played. Chicken in a basket allowed them to close later than many places around. Was a great place to go, and was always busy.

By Ruth
On 19/05/2024

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