Livingston 50: Celebrating 50 years of new town life

Pupils at Harrysmuir Primary visiting LDC HQ

Livingston was designated as a New Town on April, 17th1962, with the promise that Livingston would have it’s first residents by 1964. 50 years later, we are getting ready to celebrate Livingston’s 50th birthday. This important year offers us the opportunity to reflect on the transformation of Livingston from a settlement of farms and villages to a vibrant and economically active town in the heart of Scotland.

As part of the celebrations,  the Archives and Records Centre will host a free exhibition ‘Livingston Lives’ – 50 years of new town life.  Visitors will be able to enjoy a glimpse into new town life over the last 50 years through a display of archive photographs and records.  Visitors will also be give the opportunity to share their own memories of life in Livingston and to add comments to the images on display.  The exhibtion will run from 16th-30th April, Mon-Sat 10am – 4pm at the Archives & Records Centre, 9 Dunlop Square, Deans Industrial Estate, Livingston EH54 8SB

We will also be celebrating this important year on Twitter and will use the records of the Livingston Development Corporation to recreate the first 15 years of development through an innovative twitter feed. Over the course of a year we will tweet key events as they happened. Each week in 2012-13 will represent 15 weeks in the life of the early new town. Join us on the 17th of April when the New Town will be designated once more. Follow us at

The Fairport Magazine


Fairport Magazine















One of our projects in Midlothian Local Studies is to catalogue a large collection of pamphlets that once belonged to William Hutton Marwick (1894-1982). Marwick was, amongst other many other accomplishments, professor of Economic History at the University of Edinburgh, a Quaker and committed pacifist. His collection includes many rare pamphlets about politics, economics, social issues, peace and religion.

Amongst the collection are several small manuscript magazines compiled by William Marwick’s father, who was also called William. William Marwick senior was born inEdinburgh in October 1863. He spent his early years in Arbroath and attended Arbroath High School. Later, he went to Edinburgh University and became a Church of Scotland missionary.


The Fairport Magazine contents















As a teenager, Marwick produced his own in-house magazine called The Fairport Journal, which was named after his home in Arbroath. Eight copies of the journal have survived in the Marwick collection. The magazine is hand-written in best copperplate-style and contains short articles by Marwick and his friends.

These magazines provide an extraordinary insight into the intellectual life of a group of Victorian teenagers living in a small Scottish town. This must have been quite a serious-minded group of young people, judging by the articles they wrote and contributed. Amongst these are essays on science, history and literature as well as numerous short stories and poems.

Physics by William Marwick
















The Fairport Magazine first appeared in October 1876 and consisted of 16 pages. It contained the first chapter of a story by the editor (William Marwick) entitled ‘The Two Young Crusoes’ and another called ‘The Far West’ by Henry Angus, as well as short articles and poems by other contributors. The magazine continued fortnightly until the end of the year when it was announced that a printed version would be available.

In January 1878, the magazine returned to manuscript form. Two of the main contributors were young ladies, Miss E H Smith of Glasgow and Miss M E Angus of Arbroath. The magazine seems to have been distributed only amongst its contributors who were allowed to keep it for three days before passing it on. Probably less than a dozen people ever read it.

It is not clear how much of magazine was original work or simply copied from other sources, but in any case it is hard to imagine anybody, young or old, undertaking a similar venture today. 



Home by William Marwick

A Moving Experience!

The Archive and Local History Team is pleased to announce that we
have officially moved to the John Gray Centre! And it certainly looks like the
mess and perhaps the stress are all things that we need to remember and record
for posterity. During this move the team have found themselves to be neck high
in archive boxes, crates, brown paper, and miscellaneous packing equipment. The
team has also had access to several rolls of six-foot high bubble wrap that
has, on occasion, proved to be ‘popping-ly’ therapeutic and helped to alleviate
any potential mini-breakdowns! Perhaps there should be a Government Health
Warning on moving offices. Packing up boxes, filling up crates with heavy,
hard-bound old books, and wrapping up delicate and fragile old maps can be
somewhat traumatic on one’s back and knees. Then there is the unpacking!

Throughout these long, exhausting days, what has motivated us most
is the ability to inform, delight and engage the public in this marvellous new
venue. Caroline Mathers, our Development Officer, is really looking forward to
being able to provide fantastic programmes to the public. One of our
ever-helpful Archivists, Fran Woodrow, is delighted to finally have a dedicated
archive space for the public to visit. And Craig Statham, one of our very
knowledgeable Local History Officers and author of Lost East Lothian believes that the John Gray Centre could be the
best in Scotland.

Generally, the key thing that we have learnt from this move is to
be as organised as possible in the lead-up. And yet there have also been other
useful ‘gems’ that we have gained from this experience, as eloquently described
by members of our team.

Alex Fitzgerald: “No matter how prepared you are there are always going to be surprises.”

Fran Woodrow: “Caffeine is ESSENTIAL!”

Thomas Connelly: “I’ve learnt A LOT about lifting boxes.”

Ruth Fyfe: “I should have brought along a mini first-aid kit everywhere I went. And don’t wear light coloured clothing when

Lindsey Short: “The Archive and Local History team are a welcoming and helpful bunch of people with a great sense of humour.”

Craig Statham: “I don’t like heavy work.”

Bill Wilson: “Books are heavy.”

Eilean Malden: “There are two things in life that are highly stressful – divorce and moving house. Now, there’s a third
– moving archives.”

Hanita Ritchie: “It’s a shame that wrapping maps has done my back in but at least the team seems to like my
Malaysian curry-puffs!”

Perhaps it is not quite that bad when all is said and done and one is sitting back comfortably with a cup of tea (or coffee if you like) admiring and taking in the scent of fresh carpet and brand new furniture, envisioning the doors opening on Friday, March 30th. Yes, it was all worth it.


Rosewell Village


Rosewell Post Office










The village of Rosewell in Midlothian grew-up around the coal-mining industry. Mining had been taking place in theMidlothianarea since medieval times. Monks from Newbattle Abbey were known to work the local area. Whitehill colliery in Rosewell was owned by Wardlaw Ramsay. It was situated at the top end of the village where the houses ofRosedaleand Fairmeadow are now.  In 1856, Archibald Hood, an engine manager, acquired the lease for Whitehill Colliery from Ramsay. Hood modernised and extended the workings of Whitehill and extended the railway to service his pits at Carrington, Eldin, Gorton, Polton and Skelty Muir. Hood also improved the social conditions of the miners. Houses were built to accommodate workers and their families. The houses were built in a hierarchal system with managers and foremen having bigger houses than the ordinary mine worker. Unusually, every house had a garden attached to it so that workers could grow some of their own food. In 1846, the population of Rosewell was just 133 people, but by 1881 it had risen dramatically to 2129. This rise was due to many Irish immigrants coming over to find work and escape the effects of the Irish potato famine. This influx of Irish workers led to Rosewell becoming known as ‘littleIreland’.

 Rosewell Public school











By 1885, Rosewell had a church, post office, school and a savings bank. In 1890, Whitehill colliery was amalgamated with the Newbattle collieries, which were owned by the Marquis of Lothian, to form the Lothian Coal Company. It was at this time that Archibald Hood’s son James took over as general manager of the company. James Hood was also a Midlothian County Councillor. He was closely involved with many of his father’s projects, such as the Rosewell Co-operative Society which was founded in 1862 and was the first of its kind inMidlothian. Rosewell was known as a ‘company village’, which meant that the coal company owned and controlled every aspect of life, apart from the school and the church. The co-operative retail society was encouraged and a ‘Gothenburg’ style system was adopted with the opening of The Tavern in 1909. The coal company stipulated that a proportion of the profits from the sale of alcohol went towards the creation of the public park and community facilities, such as abowling greenwhich opened in 1901. This was a win-win situation for the mine owners as the wages that they paid to their workers were handed back at the shop and the Tavern. If a worker lost their job then they also lost their house. There were strict rules about maintaining a tidy garden and planting. Failure to comply with these meant that a worker would be brought up in front of the infamous ‘green table’ to face the consequences.


Rosewell Tavern










Life was undeniably hard in the early days. There was no electricity or running water, and water had been drawn from wells situated in the village streets. However, there was a strong sense of community. For example, on25 February 1892, the Rosewell Co-operative annual soiree and concert took place. James Hood was in the chair and guests were entertained by soprano singers and a ventriloquist. On21 July 1892, Rosewell Athletic Games were held in a field adjoining the colliery. Games were also held on29 September 1892under the auspices of the Rosewell Brass Band. These games included a pigeon race from Hawick to Rosewell, and there was also a trotting handicap. Rosewell had many different clubs at this time, including football, pigeon-racing and dramatic arts. By 1900, Rosewell was a self-sufficient village. Nobody really needed to venture outside of it as their needs were met. Local people worked hard and had few material possessions, but in many ways they appeared to be happy with their lot.

Written by Maureen Moffat, Local Studies Assistant


Index to Inmates of Edinburgh Charity Workhouse

volunteer busy at work

Thanks to the tremendous hard work carried out by our committed band of volunteers, we are creating several useful indexes to a few records within our extensive collections. The latest index to be completed relates to a Register of Inmates of Edinburgh Charity Workhouse between July 1835 and June 1841 (our ref. SL146/9/1). This index is now available on our website in the ‘Find out about records we hold‘ section, alongside our other completed project indexes for readers to search.

Background on the Edinburgh Charity Workhouse

In 1739 proposals were published for founding a hospital or workhouse for the employment and maintenance of the poor, the care of orphans and foundlings and the support of out pensioners. A contract between the Town Council and kirk sessions was agreed in 1740 setting the terms of the foundation of the Edinburgh Charity Workhouse. The Workhouse was funded by donations and subscriptions, from an assessment levied on householders and an annual grant from the Town Council. It was to be managed by an executive committee of 15 managers.

The Workhouse opened on 20 June 1743 atBristoPortnext to the Bedlam for lunatics. The original Bedlam was used as an infirmary for the sick and as a children’s hospital. A new Bedlam was built in 1746. The Bedlam was partly demolished in 1836 and the lunatics were moved to the Children’s Hospital. The children were moved to the oldOrphanHospitalunder theNorthBridge.

The passage of the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1845 led to the foundation of Edinburgh Parochial Board. The Parochial Board assumed responsibility for the Charity Workhouse, which became the Edinburgh Poorhouse. The Craiglockhart Poorhouse and Hospital replaced the Edinburgh Poorhouse in 1870 and the Charity Workhouse buildings were demolished.

Index to Register of Inmates

The Register of Inmates and Index

The Register itself is divided in to three main sections relating to the House, the Children’s Hospital and the Bedlam. The index now online is a consolidated alphabetical list of all inmates from each of these three divisions. You can simply do a free text search within the index and see if any of your ancestors were inmates during this period. If you find someone you can pop in to our public searchroom and request to see the register to check for any further information. For more information on our opening hours and where to find us see our website