Fauldhouse on the eve of the First World War
When war broke out on 4 August 1914, Fauldhouse was a mining village of 3,300 people. Most of the men and boys of Fauldhouse worked in coal or ironstone mining. Some Fauldhouse women also worked in mining – usually 'on the tables', sorting out the dross and stones from the coal.
Fauldhouse girls leaving school often went into domestic service, and most had to leave the village. The work was poorly paid, but it was a chance for them to see a little more of the world. In contrast, the boys almost all found work in the surrounding pits, and few experienced life elsewhere. The War was to change all that.
By 1914, Fauldhouse’s prosperous tradesmen and professionals lived in pleasant stone cottages and villas in the more desirable areas of the village – Sheephousehill and Crofthead.
But for the majority of Fauldhouse folk, housing was poor, cramped and insanitary. Most mining families lived in one or two roomed houses in miners’ rows. If they had an inside water supply and toilet, they were fortunate. For most families, it was a case of fetching all their water from street wells, and using shared outside privies behind the rows.
One hundred years ago Fauldhouse had forty shops - many more than it has today! You could buy anything you needed - from baths to bloomers, from gammon to gunpowder – right there in Fauldhouse. All the shops were locally owned; there were no chain stores.
The main shopping areas were Main Street and Bridge Street. Crofthead Co-op, with its many departments, was by far the biggest shop. It stood at the top of Store Brae, Sheephousehill.
See the document below for a list of all the shops in Fauldhouse in 1917.
Very few people had cars. If they needed to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow, they could take the train and had a choice of two stations on different routes. At least one person, Thomas Stark, a stockbroker’s clerk, commuted each day from Fauldhouse to his work in Glasgow.
Bicycles were a common way of getting about, and by 1914 there were a few motorised bus services.