History of Woolfords
Illustration 1: Woolfords Village from the site of football pitch
Woolfords farm has been owned by the Hamilton family for over 180 years.
The first Woolfords was built at the site of Woolfords coal mine in around 1840.
Woolfords Coal Mine -was situated between Cobbinshaw and Auchengray Railway Station' on the spur railway line to Tarbrax.
[Report woolfords coal mine 1910]
Persons employed - underground 94, above ground 11, total 105
The employees reside in the following localities:-
In mine owners' houses, situated at Woolfords 45
In rented houses, situated at Woolfords, Polkelly, Tarbrax, and Haywood 60
The houses are described as follows:-
Tarbrax - This village contains 241 houses, owned by the Tarbrax Oil Company. They are occupied mainly by persons engaged at Tarbrax Shale Mine, but there are a few workmen from Woolfords Coal Mine.
Old Woolfords Rows - leased by Tarbrax Oil Company
Consists of 12 one apartment, rental £3 0s 8d
16 two apartments, rentals from £5 17s to £6 10s
12 of the one apartment and 4 of the two apartments are back-to-back houses.
The houses were brick built with slate roofs but had no damp proof course and the wooden floors were not ventilated. There were three privies for the 28 houses.
By 1914 the houses of Old Woolfords were starting to deteriorate as shown in this report;
"This property belongs to a farmer, Hamilton by name, but is rented through the Pumpherston Company. There are twenty houses built on the but-and-ben principle, back to back, but occupied as single-apartment houses. Thus, two families use the same doorway. The houses are rented weekly at 1s. 3d. There are also twelve double houses rented at 2s. 6d. Water is supplied by one stand-pipe surrounded by a filthy gutter. Sanitary accommodation consists of eight dry-closets and four middens, which are in a deplorable state. There are no coal-houses or washhouses. These are miserable hovels." [Evidence presented to Royal Commission, 25th March 1914]
Illustration 2: Dry Midden
Dry Midden remains are the only part of old Woolfords rows still visible.
Illustration 3: Location of old Woolfords [road up to midden]
The New Woolfords was started in 1907. [First three blocks]
Illustration 4: Woolfords mining village
New Woolfords Village - 24 houses of two apartments, rental £10 8s
By 1914 the final blocks were completed and the following report was presented:
"These forty-six houses are the property of the Pumpherston Oil Company. They are arranged in blocks of not more than eight houses to the block. The houses consist of two rooms and kitchen and scullery. There is a boiler and water-closet in the scullery. The houses themselves, which are rented at 4s. per week, are about the best we have visited ; but there are no gardens or drying-greens. The water supply is privately owned, and is not always adequate. [Evidence presented to Royal Commission, 25th March 1914]"
John Christie outside 41 Woolfords around 1950-60
Illustration 5: Woolfords 2009
Illustration 6: Community garden
Illustration 7: Play Park
Woolfords Coal Mining.
1912 - Woolfords mine was badly damaged by a mob of angry miners when it continued to work during the national coal strike. Windows were broken, tubs were thrown down the shaft and fires started. The manager[James Caldwell] and some of his men managed to put out the fires. Five miners from West Calder and Stoneyburn were jailed.
1921 - A foreman working in Woolfords mine refused to join the union. This started a strike and the man's house at Tarbrax had its windows broken. The strike was only settled and production restarted after twelve months.
1926 - Woolfords mine had gone as had Old Woolfords. Most of the Woolfords men now worked in Mines near West Calder [Mainly West Mains Colliery] also known as Baads.
1962 - Baads is closed and Woolfords suddenly is a mining village no more.
Illustration 8: Remains of Winding House
Illustration 9: Powder House
Tarbrax Shale Bing in the background.
The coal from woolfords went to the shale works at Tarbrax and fired the works which created this huge bing.
Illustration 11: Aunty Mary
Mary Higgins ,born in Tarbrax, moved to the Woolfords as a young girl as you can see in “Jim Maitlands Sunday School” picture .
Mary is known the world over for her hospitality and friendly nature and will be celebrating her 90th. Birthday next year near the end of March.
Special thanks to Gordon Young for all the above information.