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5. Room for 10

No bathroom, no inside toilet, no privacy

Livingston Village Badge.png By Livingston Village Primary School (12. Willie Dornan ,6. Digging Deep ,7. Magical Light! )


Dangerous dirty water

Many shale miner's cottages were very cramped. Families with up to ten children would live in one room with no bathroom. Washing was dried on a line outside in the the dirty shale dust. Many families had to use an outside toilet (shunkie) which wasn't much more than a hole in the ground. It was often shared with up to four other families and was cleaned out once a week. This meant that homes could be very unhygienic and people got sick from dirty toilets, polluted drinking water and filthy air quality. The worst disease was cholera which was caused by contaminated drinking water.In Between 1848-9 seven people contracted cholera in Kirkliston, five of whom died including Doctor Braid who looked after the sick patients.

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The Tin Bath

A lot of shale mining families had no bathroom. To get clean they had to use a tin bath which was used in front of the range (fire/cooker) and filled with water boiled on a kettle. The dad who would be very dirty from the pit got in first then one by one, all the rest of the family, starting with the oldest. Just imagine if you had your period or hair from the previous person in the bath! Can you imagine what the water would have been like for the youngest child?

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No privacy!

In many cottages, privacy for teenagers was very little. Girls and boys had to share a room with their siblings so that meant when it was time of the month, sometimes not even knowing it was coming, it would be very embarassing. With the boys they were obviously growing so it would be scary for them.

So because they had to share a room when undressing they had no privacy, so all their siblings might have laughed at them.Because they were growing it would have been embarrassing. They would often only have two sets of clothes and many had no shoes.They would have to go to school with no shoes on. How uncomfortable would that be?


My Diary by Doris Ashton aged 13

Date: 9/4/1879

Today it was so embarrassing. Since I'm growing, I had to wear mum's skirt and Edith's jumper with so many holes I was cold the entire day! My feet are growing so my boots don't fit. I had to go to school in bare feet.

Date: 10/4/1879

Me and Edith have the same dress but she is smaller than me so I got muddled up and ripped her dress. Oh - I'm going to get into trouble!

UPDATE: I have to remake all of `Edith's dress. I don't even know how to sew, oh bother. I couldn't see that well so I pricked my finger with the needle and it's so sore I don't think I want to tell mum. She would shout at me and I don't want any more of that.

Date: 11/4/1879

Today it was ok - but last night Earl, my little brother needed a pee, so he went out in the pitch black to the loo. He tripped up and put hid foot into the stinky toilet. He didn't realise until he came back inside and oh the room stank! His foot covered in poo and pee because the pickup man hadn't come yet so it was foul. P6

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Kids' Shale trail map

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