From West Calder, though little more than a mile distant, Addiewell differs very much in character. Its houses are all of the well known mining type, ranged in some ten or eleven streets, every street containing on each side between twenty and thirty houses, and enclosing an area of unpaved ground about forty yards in breadth. At one place the uniformity of the buildings has been broken in upon by the erection of an iron structure for the use of a Free Church congregation; in another quarter there is a sufficiently commodious Roman Catholic chapel; and the village also possesses a Working Men's Institute, which has meantime been pressed into the service of the Established Church.
The Falkirk Herald, 22nd November 1877 reporting on the murder of James Pattison. See full record
Addiewell is a little mining village near West Calder. Its name doubtless derived from the fact that at one time or other there was a mineral well or something of that sort used in the neighborhood. But, alas ! No more is it used. Today Addiewell is a miniature hell of slums owned by a Company. The houses, roadways, halls, and land, not to speak of the people, are owned and controlled by Young's Company, Ltd.
In Addiewell there are over 300 houses insanitary and totally inadequate to admit of the workers lead a home life compatible with decency and religion. Fifty of the houses are what are known as "high-ends," where health and morality have a hard struggle for existence. There is still in force "open privies" here. The odour emanating from these cesspools of disease is anything but the perfume of roses. Moreover, the privies are built quite close to the houses, from which it can be understood that much of the hellish smell emanating from them must penetrate into the houses, this infesting them with the germs of disease.
Is it any wonder that fevers and epidemics of disease are prevalent in Addiewell? It is simply impossible to be healthy living in such insanitary conditions.... In Addiewell there are close on 1200 people. For lavatory and sanitary accommodation Young's Company Ltd., have supplied them with 12 – there may be more - "open privies," in which all excrement and refuse are deposited. There this filth lies until the "privy" is full, when it is filled into open carts and taken away. Quite recently we had sanitary regulations for the proper housing of swine. Yet in Addiewell, and in the other houses owned by the Company of Christian(?) shareholders, the conditions of life are so insanitary and so conducive to irreligion and immorality that Society, for its own safety, ought to see to their abolition at once The houses are without architectural feature whatever. Built of brick, which had become black with the fumes of the works, they look like so many rows of prison cells which had been dumped down anywhere.
The household washing has to be done in the houses, Young's Company Ltd. evidently thinking that if they provided washhouses the people would not know how to use them. Water for domestic use and for drinking purposes has to be carried in pails from pumps, of which there were two in each street. To the woman upstairs who has a big household to look after, this means a great amount of inconvenience and hard labour that could be quite well done without. What is to hinder Young's Company Ltd., from installing a separate water supply in each house for the private use of the occupants.
"Forward" the socialist newspaper. c.1910.