Whitburn

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Whitburn, a village and a parish of SW Linlithgowshire. The village stands, 620 feet above sea-level, near the northern verge of the parish, 3¾ miles SSW of Bathgate, 9 furlongs W by S of Whitburn station on the Morningside section of the North British, and 31/8 miles N by W of Breich station on the Caledonian, this being 213/8 miles WSW of Edinburgh and 277/8 E by S of Glasgow. A burgh under the General Police and Improvement Act of 1862, it presents a well-built regular appearance, and has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, a branch of the Commercial Bank, gasworks, and a public library. Places of worship are the parish church, the Free church, and the U.P. church. The first was erected and partly endowed by public subscription in 1718, and was raised from a chapel of ease to parochial status in 1730. A strong Secession congregation early arose, in consequence of the parish church being subjected to the law of patronage, although the parishioners had subscribed for it on the condition of their having a vote; and here as elsewhere the Secession soon divided into Burghers and Anti-burghers. The first parish minister was the Rev. Alex. Wardrope, an eminent preacher, who took an active share in the ` Marrow Controversy.' Among his successors were William Porteous, D.D. (1735-1812), from 1760 to 1770, who planned the Glasgow Society of the Sons of the Clergy, and published several works; and the Rev. Mr Baron (1735-1803), from 1770 to 1779, author, and afterwards professor of moral philosophy at St Andrews. John Brown (1754-1832) was Burgher minister from 1777; and here was born his son, Professor John Brown, D.D. (1784-1858), the well-known Biblical expositor. Professor Archibald Bruce (1746-1816) was Anti-burgher minister from 1768 till 1806. He was author of Free Thoughts on the Toleration of Popery, and many other works, and at Whitburn received a visit about 1783 from Lord George Gordon. Pop. of village (1841) 798, (1861) 1362, (1871) 1432, (1881) 1200, of whom 620 were males. Houses (1881) 279 inhabited, 22 vacant, 3 building.

The parish, containing also the town of Fauldhouse, the villages of Longridge and East Benhar, with part of Blackburn, and the stations of Bents, Crofthead, and Fauldhouse, was disjoined from Livingston in 1730, but has formed a separate preaching station so early as 1628. It is bounded N by Bathgate and Livingston, E by Livingston, SE by West Calder in Edinburghshire, and W and NW by Shotts in Lanarkshire. Its utmost length, from E by N to W by S, is 61/8 miles; its breadth increases westward to 37/8 miles; and its area is 151/3 square miles or 9807¾ acres, of which 33¼ are water. The river Almond, coming in from Shotts, flows 7½ miles east-by-northward-for 2¾ miles across the north-western, and for 1 mile (near Whitburn station) across the northern interior, elsewhere along the northern boundary. How or Blairmuchole Burn Vows 23/8 miles east-north-eastward along all the north-western and part-of the northern boundary to the Almond, another of whose affluents, Breich Water, flows 5½ miles east-north-eastward along all the Midlothian border; whilst the interior is drained by Cultrig or White Burn, Latch Burn, Bickerton Burn, and other rivulets. Along the Almond the surface declines to 500 feet above sea-level; and thence it rises to 695 near Bents station, 785 near Turnhigh, 852 near Benhar Colliery, and 951 near Fauldhousehills. It thus presents no conspicuous eminence; but much of the western district is high, bleak, mossy upland-Polkemmet and Fauldhouse Moors. The rest of the parish is comparatively low and level, has mostly been worked into a state of high cultivation, and exhibits a fair degree of artificial embellishment. Trap rock, occurring in veins, bedlike masses, and isolated protrusions, forms numerous small knolls, and caps some of the higher grounds. The other rocks belong to the Carboniferous formation, and possessing great economical value, are so extensively and variously worked as to give a distinctive character to the industry of a large proportion of the population. Sandstone of several qualities is largely quarried; coal, in thick seams, has been worked since the early part of last century; and black-band ironstone, which yields from 27 to 33 per cent. of pig-iron, and which began to be mined about the year 1835, has since been worked with such increasing vigour as to occasion a large tract in the south-west to pass from a state of bleak solitude to one of busy industry and thronging population. The soil in some parts is a mixture of earth and moss, incumbent on strong clay or till; and in others is so stiff a clay as to derive little benefit from draining, but generally is a clayey loam, which well repays the labour of the husband men. Donald Cargill is said to have preached at Whitburn, on the Sabbath before his excommunication of Charles II. in the Torwood, Sept. 1680. A bog at Cowhill has yielded two Roman coins. Polkemmet, noticed separately, is the principal mansion; and 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of more than £500. In the presbytery of Linlithgow and the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, this parish, since 1872, has been ecclesiastically divided in Whitburn and Fauldhouse, the former a living worth £300. Six schools, with total accommodation for 1365 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 971, and grants amounting to £860, 19s. 7d. Valuation (1860) £9546, (1885) £17,415, 3s. 9d., plus £6421 for railways. Pop. (1801) 1537, (1831) 2075, (1861) 5511, (1871) 691l, (1881) 6326, of whom 2393 were in Whitburn ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., sh. 31, 1867.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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