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The documented history of Westfield is at best sketchy. While the name Westfield can be found on Stobie's map of Clackmannanshire (1783), there is no indication of a settlement or the mine. The Statistical Account of Scotland (S.A) for Clackmannan of 1791-99 makes no mention of the settlement in spite of the fact that the Old Parish Records from 1760 to 1800 contain the names of more than 300 children, the fathers of whom are listed as "coal hewer" or "collier" at Westfield.
The 1791-99 S.A. mentions three collieries; Clackmannan, Sauchy, and Kennet. It can be seen that the reference to Clackmannan is a clear reference to the Westfield pit since the birth records reflect the birth of children at Westfield, Sauchy and Kennet with numerous references to tradesman (but none to coal miners) in Clackmannan (refered to a "in the town".) In reference to the Clackmannan colliery, it is indicated that the main seam was "wrought in the last century" i.e. before 1700. The main seam was terminated in 1763 and the "Cherry and Splint seams" began to be wrought at this time. It is my belief that mining began at Westfield before 1670. This is based on an analysis of diverging family lines from my family tree which include brothers born in the 1670's and the fact that their father apparently relocated to Clackmannan some time shortly before their birth. Mining at Sauchy began in the early 16th century.
The S.A. of 1791-99 also indicates that there was a school at each of the collieries implying the existence of a settlement at each. In 1795, the school master of the "school at Westfield," Alexander Johnson, is included with the birth of a child to his wife.
The S.A. of 1845 included Westfield as one of "the three principal villages" and states that: "At the village of Westfield, on the estate of the Earl of Zetland, there are a schoolmaster's house, schoolhouse, etc. supported and maintained in a manner similar to those at the Devon Iron-Works. Here, too, much good is doing by the imparting of general knowledge, and the inculcation of Christian principles."
Old Parish Records of Clackmannan differ in recording style during the terms of the various clerks. Of significance is the fact that from 1762 birth records included a notation of the occupation and work location of the father. Given that mine workers were considered property, generally provided housing, and legally precluded from changing employment without the permission of employers, one can infer (though with caution) that most of the families lived at Westfield at the time.**
Numerous births attest to a sizable number of residents by the 1760's. With 118 births between 1762 and 1771, 42 households were represented, donimated by two families, 32 children born to 11 Russel households and 13 to 6 White households. The first marrrage between these two families occured in 1701.
The Devon Iron Works operated several mines from about 1800 including the Craigrie Pit. The large-scale 1847-48 map of the area shows Westfield, Craigrie and the "Coal Pit" and a small-scale map from about 1845 reflects the numerous buildings at both Westfield and Craigrie.
In 1869 the Clackmannan Coal Co. employed 159 men under ground and 53 on the surface. It is likely that this is what later became know as the Craigrie pit near the settlement of Westfield and Craigrie farm. The accompanying drawing, a copy of one showing women registering coal brought to the surface with an oversman and clerk was taken from "100 Years of Coal" and is sited as being from 1835. Given the notable absence of mechanization, and the greatly reduced number of women working in the mines following the passage of laws regulating the mines in 1775 and 1799, the drawing may represent an earlier time period. The absence of housing is also of note, perhaps reflecting artistic license.
In the first national census in 1841, 27 houses were enumerated at Westfield with 16 at Craigrie This increased to 38 houses in Westfield in the 1851 census which represented the high point in the development of the settlement. Announcements in the Alloa newspaper in Feb. 1855 for the "let" of the Craigrie stone quarry and in Sept 1855 for the auction sale of the complete fittings of the mine and shops likely led to the decrease in occupancy of the houses to the 20 noted in the 1861 Census. My g-grandfather, who was married at Westfield in 1856 departed for eastern Scotland shortly thereafter along with his father-in-law, a mine oversman, and their families.
Occupancy increased to 29 cottages by the time of the 1871 census with a steady decline thereafter. Twenty six cottages were occupied in 1881 and 15 in the 1891 census. The Old Ordnance Survey Map of 1898 appears to show only 4 of about 17 cottages as occupied. The mine is referred to as "Old Shaft" on this map with no indication of the buildings, which previously were shown to be located at the pit head.
The pit was reopened and operated from about 1927 until about 1950. The Alloa Coal Co. employed 117 miners below ground and 29 above in 1946.
Nine of the cottages associated with the mine were demolished in 1951 with the last being demolished in April 1962. Today there is little sign of the existence of this community. The Craigrie farm is still in operation and one can see where the quarry was. A small slagheap is the only remnant of the old mine.
** For further information regarding the working conditions of miners and the laws of the time, please refer to Fife Pits and Memorial Book, By Michael Martin OR Historical Overview of Scotish Mining by Jim Rouse