Kirknewton village is based in West Lothian and is located 10 miles south of Edinburgh and 3 miles from Livingston on the edge of the Pentland Hills. It has around 2,000 residents, a local shop, pharmacy, post office, garage, chip shop, bar, pottery shop, quality wedding venue, church and primary school, as well as a number of very busy community groups. Transport links include a bus and train service and the village is in easy travelling distance to Glasgow, Livingston, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Airport
Kirknewton’s Unique Heritage
The earliest signs of settlement in the area are the remains of Iron Age forts on Kaimes Hill and Dalmahoy Hill, craggy summits about a mile east of Kirknewton. You can read more about excavations of the area here.
In slightly more recent times, Kirknewton House, which lies just to the south of the village, had its origins (as Meadowbank House) in the 17th century. The current house is a reworking of the original by the architect William Playfair for Alexander Maconochie, Lord Meadowbank in 1835. Kirknewton House is screened by trees from nearby roads and from the village itself. The most obvious evidence of its existence is the entrance lodge beside the start of the drive to the house at the south end of the village.
Kirknewton stood at the south eastern corner of the large area of West Lothian which was transformed from the 1860s by the oil shale industry, with the nearest shale mine lying just to the north west of the village, between it and East Calder. Shale from here was taken to the huge oil shale works at Pumpherston for processing.
During World War II, the Royal Air Force built a military airfield at Whitemoss, a mile south east of Kirknewton. RAF Kirknewton, as it was known, was home to a variety of units during the war and, like many other military airfields, fell quiet afterwards. In 1952 it became home to a number of small United States Air Force units tasked with providing mobile radio facilities to the USAF in Britain. The USAF left in 1966, and today Kirknewton airfield is home to a RAF(V) Gliding Unit, 661(RAF Kirknewton)VGS.
You can read a copy of the Kirknewton Story by T.L. Hardie and Kenneth Roy here – The Kirknewton Story
Check out more information on Wikipedia, including the connection with William Cullen (15 April 1710 – 5 February 1790) who was a Scottish physician, chemist and agriculturalist, and one of the most important professors at the Edinburgh Medical School, during its hay-day as the leading centre of medical education in the English-speaking world. Read about the Cullen Project here.
Cullen was also a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. He was David Hume‘s physician and friend, and on intimate terms with Adam Smith, Lord Kames (with whom he discussed theoretical and practical aspects of husbandry), Joseph Black, John Millar, and Adam Ferguson, among others.
In November 2019 we have been award funds to run a community history project and we hope to share more stories of Kirknewton’s history in comic format to every household and here as a downloadable pdf.
Here is a video of Archie Harvey giving a personal history of Kirknewton.