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Snippets of History.

DateSubject
Apr. 1843Hamlet Extent
A report by the Rev. John Smith stated; ' There is scarcely a village in the parish, the hamlet at the church containing only 18 houses', 'of these the school house and the school, recently rebuilt, are in good order'.

DateSubject
Mar. 1875Report on School
A report by the H.M. Inspector on the Public School in Ecclesmachan stated; 'It has been long celebrated as one of the best schools for many miles around, and the large number of children attending it from other parishes, speaks for itself'. The report went on to describe the Schoolmaster (Mr Cunningham), as 'totally devoted to his work and makes his school his first work'.

DateSubject
Jan. 1878Historical Account of the AreaNew
While in the local archives searching for some other information, I came across this interesting old account of the area. We have carefully retyped the articles (over 4,000 words) which were printed in the local newpaper (The West Lothian Courier & Coatbridge & Airdrie Herald) over a two week period, 12 Jan 1878 and 19 Jan 1878. Any typographical errors are deliberate (i.e. binnie and binny) as this is a duplication of the article as it appeared. Click here to read the article.

DateSubject
Sept. 1888Major Road Improvements
The roads at Ecclesmachan were greatly improved by major reconstruction, taking over 3 months to complete. Two very dangerous turns at Binny Lodge and the old bridge over the burn were superseded by a new road, built in a straight line from Binny Lodge to the entrance to the Church. The new bridge was built using stone from the Binny quarry and was build on dry land, the burn was diverted afterwards to its new course. The embankment for the new road section over the bridge was constructed using infill from the rubbish mound at Old Binny quarry. Click here to see a recent picture of the old road and bridge over the Ecclesmachan burn.

At the same time the hill at Waterstone (which was almost perpendicular), was re-graded with a new road with a gradient of 1 in 14. The improvement was effected by a deep cutting through the 'Knowes-of-the Rigg' Plantation, from which a heavy embankment carried on up to Waterstone Farm. The result of this improvement allowed a horse pulling a load to jog on over the hill, without it's owner having to borrow an additional horse from the farmer at Waterstone Farm to complete the climb!

DateSubject
March 1901Over 20 Graves Found in Wyndford Farmlands
A contractor hired to level a field on the Wyndford farm which had subsided due to mining operations in the area, uncovered over twenty graves. These graves were only about one foot below the surface, in two rows and lined with freestone or shale slabs.

Strangely, there were no bones or relics within the graves, although one had a rich mould inside. The graves were laid in an east-west direction and were full length, which indicates that they were Christian burials. As both the Ecclesmachan and Uphall churches were some distance away, it is very probable that the burials in this area took place before the churches were built, but when Christianity had been established in the area. This would date the graves as being in the region of 1,000 years old.

DateSubject
Dec. 1906Outbreak of Typhoid Fever
An outbreak of typhoid fever occurred at Binnybridge, Ecclesmachan. The victims were admitted to the district Infectious Diseases Hospital in Linlithgow. The source of the outbreak was traced to use of contaminated water; steps were taken to introduce a supply of pure water in the affected area.

DateSubject
Oct. 1913Village Lamp Erected
The local community celebrated the installation of the first village lamp in Ecclesmachan (after a lengthy campaign). This lamp was run from acetylene and installed in a central position to light the village in the best possible manner. Dr. John Mason the schoolteacher lighted the lamp, and many people came from the surrounding villages to witness this event.

DateSubject
Jan. 1929Explosion at No. 35 Mine.
Following an explosion of gas at the seam face in the No. 35 pit at Threemiletown, 4 miners were hurt and received medical attention. Two of the miners were taken to hospital with severe burns, where later one died; the other 2 were taken home to recover from cuts and shock.

DateSubject
Mar. 1956Recreation Park Opens.
The King George V. playing field was opened 31st March 1956.

DateSubject
Apr. 1958Closure of No. 35 Mine.
Scottish Oils Ltd. closed the No. 35 pit at Threemiletown on 30th April. All production ceased on that date and 90 workers were made redundant. 30 workers were retained for a period on a 'day to day' basis, to dismantle the works.

DateSubject
July 1963Rovers Moot at Binny
The 20th Annual Scottish Scouts Rover Moot was held in Binny Estate. Scouts from all over Scotland (and as far afield as France and New Zealand), attended for a weekend of competitive sports and activities.

DateSubject
Dec. 1988Sheep Trapped in Mine Shaft
14 sheep had to be rescued from an old pit shaft at Hillend farm. The shaft had collapsed and the SSPCA and farm workers had to dig a ramp to help the animals escape.

DateSubject
Nov. 1989Closure of Village Hall Announced
Lothian Regional Council threatened closure of the village hall. The council stated that it would either be closed or the community should take it over. A public meeting on the subject was called for Nov. 29th 1989.

DateSubject
May 1990Celebration Open day at Village Hall
An open day was held it the village hall to demonstrate that it was a vital part of community life and to further encourage its use. This event came in the wake of the threatened closure of the hall by Lothian Regional Council. After a long and determined campaign from the local Community, Council bosses agreed to spend the 15,000 required to make the building wind and watertight.

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