Whitburn


Whitburn
   WHITBURN, a parish, in the county of Linlithgow; containing, with the village of Longridge and part of Blackburn, 2593 inhabitants, of whom 798 are in the village of Whitburn, 4 miles (S. W. by W.) from Bathgate. This place derives its name of Whiteburn or Whitburn in contradistinction to that of the village of Blackburn, in the adjoining parish of Livingstone, of which it once formed a part. The parish is about six miles in length and two miles and a half in breadth, comprising an area of rather more than 10,000 acres; a considerable portion towards the west is barren waste, but the remainder principally arable land in good cultivation. The river Almond flows through the northern part of the parish, and the Breich skirts it on the south; the surface is also intersected by several smaller streams. The system of agriculture is as much improved as the nature of the soil, which is in many parts a stiff retentive clay, will admit. Draining has been practised with advantage, but not to such an extent as is requisite: the lands, also, are partly inclosed, and some plantations have been formed; but there is still much room for improvement in these respects.
   The substratum is rich in minerals. A very valuable seam of coal has been wrought for more than a century, and is still in operation: the mine is singularly ornamented with calcareous stalactites depending from the roof in the form of strong pillars. Ironstone of argillaceous character occurs in beds varying from one inch to several inches in thickness, and also in balls and flat circular pieces; it is formed into pig-iron, yielding from twenty-seven to thirty-three per cent. A rich vein of black-band ironstone, also, has within the last few years been discovered, and is extensively wrought by the Shotts Iron Company, and Messrs. Holdsworth, of Coltness, who have sunk numerous pits, from which the water is pumped, and the ore drawn up, by steamengines. The ironstone is removed from the mouth of the pits by railways, and piled in heaps varying from 400 or 500 to 2000 tons, for the purpose of being calcined, during which process a pile of 1000 tons is reduced sixty-four tons in weight. About 200 persons are employed in these works. There are likewise several quarries of sandstone of various kinds, and a quarry of white siliceous matter which is used for garden walks. The rateable annual value of the parish is £7398.
   Polkemmet, the seat of Sir William Baillie, is an ancient mansion, which has within the last few years been new fronted and otherwise improved; it is pleasantly situated, and the grounds are embellished with thriving plantations. The village is neatly built, and chiefly inhabited by persons employed in weaving cotton goods with hand-looms at their own houses. A public library has been established, towards the foundation of which £50 were given by Mr. Wilson, of this place; it is supported by annual subscription, and contains a wellassorted collection. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Linlithgow and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister's stipend, including £100 from land bequeathed for that purpose in the county of Lanark, is £203. 6. 11., subject to certain payments to the minister of Livingstone, from which the parish of Whitburn was separated in 1718; there is a manse, and the glebe is valued at £3. 10. per annum. The church was erected, and partly endowed, by subscription; it is a neat structure. There are places of worship for Burghers and another body of seceders. The parochial schoolmaster has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and about nine acres of land; and the school fees average about £27 per annum. The late Mr. James Wilson bequeathed £4250 for the erection and endowment of free schools in this and the parishes of Shotts and Cambusnethan: with these funds two schools have been established here, of which the masters have each a salary of £20 per annum, with a house and garden. About 200 children are taught in the several schools, of which number about seventy attend the parochial school. Two Roman coins of gold have been dug up in a bog at Cowhill, in the parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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