The Prefabs Loganlea

15 Kirkhill Cottages

By David Toynbee

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Prefabs Loganlea' page

15 Kirkhill Cottages, Loganlea. We moved to the prefabs in 1947. We'd been on the waiting list for a new house for some time. My Mum was really excited about moving to an up-to-date place and when we discovered which house was ours we'd walk up to the prefab bungalow and check progress with the workmen as they put the finishing touches to the house. I remember going under the floors with the workmen and watched as they installed the glass fibre insulation in the floor and foundations. The wool fibre was everywhere and I itched for a week. Can you imagine that happening now?

That's our prefab in the left background of this photo, which is the Loganlea Gala Day committee. When we moved in I couldn't believe my luck: a whole house to ourselves, a room to myself, a coalfire that heated the house and the water, a bathroom with a bath and hot water, a fenced backyard, a garden shed, flower patches, grass to cut. And right outside the front door were the fields that led down to the Scholey Burn. School was easy walking distance in Addiewell and if the rain was really bad we'd all pile on the bus. The regular passengers were a bit miffed when we filled their bus in the morning. Those were the days when we could squeeze onto the platform of the double deckers and hang on down the Scholey Brae to school. The dog and I soon found our way over the fields and down the burn. The section between the Bridge and the Briech Water became an adventure playground. Shale slopes, rock ledges, trees, bushes and the rail viaduct over the Water to Stoneyburn. We always called the Breich Water "The Black Burn" because it ran black from the coal mine effluents upstream. If we tried to wade in the "Black Burn" we discovered that it was truly black with a layer of black slime covering the stream bed and the rocks. It was really difficult to wash off, especially on socks and pants if there was an accident and we went for a sudden swim.

 But Scholey Burn was always clean. The old miners' cottages were just up from my house along the main street,  though they were scheduled for demolition when the residents moved to more modern housing. The same was happening in Addiewell. The authorities started moving residents from the east end (the start of the street) and as the folks moved out the homes were boarded up. The boards lasted about a week then we'd found a new playground. Some adults decided to salvage what they could from the homes: wiring, doors, windows and general firewood. The walls were old fashioned (plaster on lathe) and the old homes were soon pulled apart, but there were still residents living up towards the west end. The attics were continuous and it was possible to climb above an occupied home. Talk about noises in the ceiling! Also, the electric power supply accessed the cottages from the east end where the demolition had started. It was inevitable- I was up there the night somebody cut through the main supply to all the cottages. Amazingly the cutter was unhurt although we all heard the bang and saw the flash in the dark rooms. I saw the knife afterwards and it was almost completely melted in half. Some of the long term cottage residents had been reluctant to leave the homes they'd lived in for years, but the power failure accelerated the move and the cottages became derelict. Mum and Dad decided to move back to Addiewell, Faraday Place in 1952, so I was forced to leave my dream home and go back to Victorian times of cold houses.

PS. There was another polluted stream just to the west of West Calder which flowed under the bridge on the main road to Breich. I see it's named West Calder Burn on maps. We always called it "The Yellow Burn' because it ran an orange/yellow colour due to the mine water from Hermand Mine. The water from Hermand had a high iron content and the mine pump-out made the water yellow. Just like Breich Water, the burn was filled with yellow silt from the mine. Further upstream before the mine, the burn was clean. There we called it Purdy's Burn. It's probably all clean now.


Dave Toynbee.

This page was added by David Toynbee on 01/09/2014.
Comments about this page

It's a wonder you survived your childhood - it sounds so dangerous!   But what an interesting article; I hope lots of today's Addiewell children read it.  

By Sybil Cavanagh
On 10/09/2014

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