Do you know where this local mansion is?

This is Westwood House, built between West Calder and Addiewell during the 19th century as the graceful country retreat of a wealthy Edinburgh lawyer named Smith.



Westood House. Photograph from Hendrie, W.F. Old West Calder, Stenlake Publishing 2005

The estate changed hands a couple of times, and in the late 19th century belonged to Captain Steuart, who was a prominent supporter of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt. Westwood was one of the meeting places for the hunt, and from here the pack would tear across the fields and woods of Harburn, Hermand, Bellsquarry and Breich.

The lands of the estate, whilst not particularly rich agriculturally, contained deposits of shale and the Westwood Shale Oil Company began manufacturing crude oil on Captain Steuart’s estate in the 1860s. Under one company or another, shale was extracted from Westwood until the closing of the works in 1962.

As the shale seams on the estate were opened up, Westwood House was in the way of the works. And its rooms, which once echoed to the sounds of family and socialising, began to echo to the sound of shale being dumped on the advancing bings....and the house was eventually engulfed by the piles of spent shale from the Westwood Works.

And its rooms, which once echoed to the sounds of family and socialising, began to echo to the sound of shale being dumped on the advancing bings....and the house was eventually engulfed by the piles of spent shale from the Westwood Works.

This mansion now lies buried under the Five Sisters bing.




Two farms are buried under the Addiewell Bing, one of which was called Clash-me-Doon (or Bridge End Farm). Whilst our bings may have smothered bits of history, they have themselves become sites of ecological and historical importance. They are home to locally rare species of plants and animals, and in some ways are the only monuments to the industry and the people who worked so hard to build the communities we have today.



Article published in Konect March 2010

Author: Helen-Jane Shearer


#westcalder #bings #helenjaneshearer

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