Kirknewton is a small village that lies south of the A71 from Edinburgh to Livingston, and north of the A70, the lonely, high level road that carves its way along the north side of the Pentland Hills from Edinburgh to Carnwath and Lanark.
Much of the village also stands back from the B7031, which links the two main "A" roads here. The result is that Kirknewton has a surprisingly remote feel, given it is only five miles from the Edinburgh bypass and three miles from the centre of Livingston.
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. In slightly more recent times, Kirknewton House, which lies just to the south of the village, had its origins (as Meadowbank House) in the 1600s. The current house is a reworking of the original by the architect William Playfair for the then Lord Meadowbank in 1835.
Kirknewton House is slightly reclusive, being screened by trees from nearby roads and from the village itself. The most obvious evidence of its existence is the interesting entrance lodge beside the start of the drive to the house at the south end of the village.
Kirknewton stood at the very south eastern corner of the large area of West Lothian 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 gliding school and a small number of private aircraft.
Kirknewton's Main Street has an interesting, very enclosed feel. Stretching from the junction with the B7031 to the old kirkyard in the centre of the village, it comprises a collection of one and two storey buildings. The kirkyard itself is home to a number of headstones dating back to the 1700s, and a burial enclosure for the Campbell Maconachies of Meadowbank House that dates back to 1662.
At the west end of the village is Kirknewton Railway Station. Officially known as East Calder Railway Station until the 1980s, the station buildings look as if they have come from a model railway rather than the real world. Where the B7031 crosses the railway line at the west end of the station is a level crossing that in recent years has become notorious following a series of collisions between cars and trains.
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