AN UNSANITARY VILLAGE
Kirknewton Local Authority presently petitioned the sheriff at Edinburgh regarding the village of Oakbank, belonging to the Oakbank Oil Company, whose sanitary condition they complained was in an unsatisfactory state. The company denied this, and the matter was remitted to Dr Littlejohn, who drew up a report. Sheriff Rutherford, after considering this, finds that a nuisance within the meaning of the Public Health Act exists at Oakbank and ordains the company to erect the buildings recommended by Dr Littlejohn, to discontinue the use of the present ashpits, and to send a cart through the village once a day to remove refuse. The Local Authority received expenses.
Edinburgh Evening News, 12th May 1890
THREE LIVES LOST In Scottish Tenement Blaze.
About three o'clock in the morning, a fire was discovered in a two-storey tenement in the village of Oakbank, situated near Oakbank Oil Works, Midlothian, and belonging to Scottish Oils, Ltd. In the house where the fire originated three people lost their lives, their names being:— John Gordon (60), labourer; Jessie Sinclair or Gordon (57), his wife; and John Sinclair (33), labourer, stepson of Gordon. The tenement was one containing 12 houses of two rooms each, and the fire had its origin in an upstairs room. Occupants of the house immediately below made the discovery through the presence of smoke. Efforts were made arouse the inmates of the house where the fire had broken out, but these were in vain. The door was then broken in, and the flames burst out on the landing, driving the people back. A strong wind from the north-east drove the flames through the tenement from end to end in a short time.
The tenement measured 120 feet by 50 feet. The fire so spread quickly that men, women, and children had to leave the houses in their bedclothes, and take refuge in adjoining houses. A contingent of Edinburgh Fire Brigade arrived about five o'clock, but by that time the tenement was in ruins. The bodies of the Gordons were recovered some time after, and were found to be charred almost beyond recognition. Fifty seven persons were rendered homeless, and the Co-Operative Society's premises at East Calder were opened for the purpose supplying the homeless with needful clothing and food.
The manager of Oakbank Oilworks got into communication with the Scottish military authorities for the purpose of obtaining a number of military huts accommodate the people rendered homeless.
Dundee Evening Telegraph, 7th March 1921