Lost Village of East Benhar

A map of East Benhar in the late 19th century

East Benhar Mine was a short-lived enterprise established in 1940 by Messrs Barr and Thornton
and abandoned 17 years later. It stood on the site of the lost village of East Benhar, founded in the 1860s on moorland to the north of the West Lothian village of Fauldhouse to accommodate the workers of the earlier Benhar Coal Company.

The ruins of a brick building that formed part of East Benhar Mine stands on the site of East Benhar

In its day, East Benhar was a thriving wee community. Rows of brick-built cottages, totalling 160 homes in all, flanked the road and the village had a school, shops and a welfare hall. However, like many villages commissioned by mine owners, the cottages were thrown up quickly and cheaply with little regard for the families who would occupy them.

And they were not particularly well maintained. By the 1930s, living conditions in East Benhar had deteriorated to the point where the county council was forced to step in. The tenants were transferred to new homes in Fauldhouse and their old, dilapidated cottages were demolished.

While the road still crosses the moor, there is little trace of the village. Hidden amid heavy conifer forestry, a couple of ruined structures remain close to a small bing, the waste thrown up by the colliery.

East Benhar is one of 20 or so lost villages in West Lothian, a region where communities sprouted from nothing in the mid-19th century, usually to serve a coal or shale mine, prospered briefly and then disappeared, the communities dissolved almost overnight as residents were relocated and rehoused.

For walks up the coal and shale bings of Central Scotland – including East Benhar – check out my book Bing Bagging, available in paperback or as an ebook from Amazon. Buying a copy helps support this site!

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