The beehive coke ovens that lie in ruins at Woodmuir Farm are named after their distinctive dome shape.
These ovens were used for a process called coking, where coal was transformed into coke, a more efficient fuel, by slow controlled burning. Although coke had various uses, in the 19th century its primary use was as fuel for blast furnaces such as the Wilsontown Ironworks.
This photograph shows a beehive oven with its front removed so you can see inside where the coal was heaped. The ovens show evidence of burning and each has a vent hole at the top.
History of the site
As yet little is known about the history of this site. Historic map evidence tells us that the ovens were built sometime during the 19th century; they are not evident on the 1856 Ordnance Survey map but are shown on the 1898 edition. The later map illustrates that there was coal mining in the immediate area and the ovens were no doubt connected with that business.
Cottages for the miners, as well as a school for their children, stood where the Forestry Commission car park is now located. Early maps show both old disused shafts and working shafts in the area, suggesting a lengthy history of coal mining. It makes sense that at least some of these mines would have supplied the ovens.
Visiting Woodmuir Farm Coke Ovens
The exact location of Woodmuir Farm Coke Ovens is grid reference NS 968 598, and can be found off the A704, near West Calder, West Lothian, EH55 8JW. UK
All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.
Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.