Loanhead, Midlothian, Scotland

It was a tiny village by about 1600, when it was included on a map of the Lothians. It was granted a charter allowing a weekly market and annual fair in 1669. Coal was mined profitably in the area for Sir John Clerk of Penicuik by 1685. The Springfield paper mill, in the valley of the River North Esk to the south of the town, commenced in 1742, while Polton mill followed in 1750. By 1754 Loanhead was a medium-sized settlement.

The limestone industry was a source of employment by the late eighteenth century, the works being at Burdiehouse, about a mile to the north west. The coal industry continued to expand and by 1874 the town was linked to the railway. Shale was mined between Loanhead and Burdiehouse in the late nineteenth century, from 1880 under the Clippens Oil Company of Paisley. By this time the population had expanded to 3,250. The town was granted burgh status in 1884.[1] The North British Railway built a steel lattice girder box viaduct across Bilston Glen in 1892, replacing another which had been designed by Thomas Bouch.

The shale mines closed in 1909 because of incoming water from the Edinburgh waterworks aqueducts. Burdiehouse limeworks ceased in 1912, although limestone was mined in the area until 1960. The Polton paper mill closed in 1955. Coal mining continued, with the large Bilston Glen pit being sunk between 1952 and 1961. It was closed in 1988, and the site cleared. Bilston Glen Colliery at one stage produced 1,000,000 tons of coal per annum, and employed 2,300 men. The coal workings stretched from Rosewell to Dalkeith. All coal working ceased following the violent strikes of 1984-1985, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. The site is now used as an industrial estate, with businesses including MacSweens haggis factory, and Lothian and Borders Police Communications Centre (The Force Communications Centre, or FCC) where all radio traffic and emergency calls are handled. The Pentlands industrial estate was opened in the 1970s, and a number of retail and other businesses trade from the periphery of the town.