Whitburn, West Lothian

Whitburn (originally Whiteburn) is a small town in West Lothian, Scotland, halfway between Scotlands's two largest cities, about 23 miles (37 km) east of Glasgow and 22 miles (35 km) west of Edinburgh. The nearest major towns are Bathgate, 4 miles (6 km) and Livingston, 6 miles (9.7 km).


Whitburn, looking west towards the town centre

Coat of arms of Whitburn
Location within West Lothian
Population10,527 (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceNS945645
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtEH47
Dialling code01501
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament


Originally a small farming & weaving community centred around the burn that runs through, it was once a district of Linlithgow until 1973 and a parish of Livingston until 1730 when it established into its own as the population began to rise. When reliable statistics began with the Statistical Accounts of Scotland the population was counted at 1,322 in 1755 followed by a more accurately count of 1,322 in 1795.[1]

Whitburn has appeared on maps since the 17th century of the Early Modern period and appears on a manuscript authored by Scottish map maker John Adair in 1680.[2] The earliest documented reference to Whitburn is dated 26 September 1363[3] and can be found in the Index of Charters by King David II of Scotland. It grants William de Carnys and his heir Duncan a concession to the terms upon which they held the baronies of Easter and Wester Whitburn[4][5]. There were also two gold pieces of roman coin discovered in a field in 1845 [6] but there is no other evidence of roman occupation.

During the Age of Enlightenment the community was trading cotton, pig iron and coal. "Old quarries" can be seen dotted over the area on the Ordnance Survey 1st Edition map, presumably from the days of clay, sandstone and iron ore extraction. The majority of farmers rented agricultural land because of the Lowland Clearances and most of it was owned by Esquires.[7]

Between the 18th and 20th century the town was dominated by mines with the largest being Polkemmet Colliery – a large coal mine, discovered in the town in the late 1800s – but this was closed in the 1980s as a result of damage by underground flooding during the 1984-85 miners' strike and never re-opened. The colliery buildings have gone, and the coal bings that once were prominent have now been removed. Work to dismantle Bing No 3, the infamous burning bing, started in August 2006 and was completed by February 2008.[8] The last major outbreak of burning occurred in 1998. As of 2017 the bings have been flattened and it is now a large housing estate as a result from the Heartlands Project.

There was a Scottish Police College located on the current site of Townhead Gardens in the 1940s, before it moved to the old mansion at Polkemmet.[9]

The town's population was boosted by the 1960s Glasgow overflow. The town's Murraysgate and surrounding areas north-west of the cross were established to deal with the overflow.


The town has 5 primary schools, 4 of which have nurseries within. These five schools are known as Croftmalloch Primary School, Polkemmet Primary School, Burnhouse, St Joseph's Primary School and Whitdale Primary School.

Whilst four of the schools are non denominational, St Joseph's is regarded as a Catholic school. Burnhouse school is for children with behavioural difficulties who cannot be placed in mainstream schools.

The local secondary school is Whitburn Academy. It is a state run non-denominational secondary school serving pupils aged 11 to 18. Its catchment area is the town of Whitburn and the surrounding villages of Fauldhouse, Longridge, East Whitburn, Stoneyburn, and Greenrigg. There are approximately 1000 pupils at the school.

Sport and recreation

Whitburn has a King George's Field in memory of King George V which was opened in 1955 by Queen Elizabeth II.

On 16 January 2012, a planning application was submitted regarding the rebuild of the swimming pool; drawings of the new facility were posted on the Xcite Leisure Website.[10]

Whitburn is home to Whitburn Junior F.C. who play at Central Park and are in the SJFA East Region Super League. In 2000 they won the OVD Scottish Juniors Cup.

Whitburn Martial Arts Centre opened in 2009, though ran as West Lothian Taekwon-Do since 2004. They ran free Taekwon-Do keep fit classes at Polkemmet, Croftmalloch and St. Joseph's Primary Schools in Whitburn from 2004 to 2008. The Centre funds many students to compete at National Championships and has many Scottish and British Champions.

The town holds its annual gala day on the third Saturday in June; there is a parade through the town, followed by games and races at King George V Park. The gala day is part of a week of activities known as the "Civic Week"; this also includes a fairground and a fireworks display in King George V Park.

Polkemmet Country Park is located to the west of the town, and incorporates woodland, a golf course, cafe, and play area. The park is also locally famous for the Polkemmet Horn which can be seen from the M8 motorway which runs to the north of the country park. There is also a disused steam locomotive from Polkemmet Colliery on display. Since 2012 Polkemmet Park has also been the site of the Scottish Owl Centre.


The town was once the site of Levi Strauss & Co., the clothing manufacturer. The plant opened in 1969, employing a work force of over 500 local people. At its height, the plant was producing 4 million pairs of jeans in a year. The plant shut its doors in December 1999.

The town has been given the go-ahead for a £500 million project called "Heartlands". This has included the removal of 1.4 million tonnes of shallow coal reserves by opencast methods and the regeneration of 600 hectares (1,480 acres) of derelict ground, to the south-west and west of the town. It will also include land at Cowhill, next to the M8 motorway, where a new junction and business park is planned. A roundabout and spur road have been built at the west of the town to allow access for the construction of the new junction and business park. This new roundabout replaces a dangerous pair of sliproads on the B7066 road. The project will provide 4000 new jobs, 2000 new homes (with the land available for more), 2 championship golf courses, a 5 star, 150 bedroom, luxury golf lodge and hotel and a 350 car park and ride facility.[11]

There are many main street stores like The Co-operative Food, John Livingstone and Sons butchers, A & C Fisher's bakery and Greggs.


The Whitburn Band is a brass band formed in 1870. The band has been successful on the contest stage and competes at the British Open, National Final and European Championships, and has been Scottish Champion on 19 occasions.[12] In 2017, the Whitburn Band was ranked 6th in the world in the 4barsrest rankings.[13]

The Whitburn Flute Band was formed in the town in 1962, although it is thought the band may have existed in some form before this.

Notable people


  1. "Sinclair, Sir John. The Statistical Account of Scotland, Whitburn, Linlithgow, Vol. 17, Edinburgh, 1796, p. 300". William Creech, 1796, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow. (1999). Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  2. "A Map of West Lothian / survey'd by Mr. J. Adair. [ca.1680]". John Adair. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  3. "Index of Charters, &c. By King David II". General Register Office (Scotland). Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  4. "The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, Oxford University Press, 17 Nov 2016, Pg. 413". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  5. "A history of the family of Cairnes or Cairns and its connections, Lawlor H.C, 1906, Pg. 4".
  6. "National Record of the Historic Environment". G. Mitchell. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  7. "Gordon, J. ed. The New Statistical Account of Scotland / by the ministers of the respective parishes, under the superintendence of a committee of the Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy. Whitburn, Linlithgow, Vol. 2, Edinburgh, p. 81". Blackwoods and Sons, 1845. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  8. "Environment: Bing 3 (the burning bing)". Heartlands. Ecosse Regeneration Limited. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  9. "Ordnance Survey 1937-1961". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  10. http://www.polkemmetoccs.co.uk
  11. "Whitburn Band". Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  12. "World Rankings - All Bands". 4barsrest. 14 November 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  13. "X-Factor Leon has singing in his genes". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 15 October 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  14. "Lewis Capaldi BBC Sound of 2018".

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