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.

By Sybil Cavanagh

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. 

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