Linburn House & Workshops

In May 1943, the Board of Scottish War Blinded recommended locating a new premises to accommodate the growing numbers of blinded soldiers returning from the Second World War to operate alongside Newington House. By September, the Board approved a lease agreement for Linburn House, situated in Wilkieston, West Lothian for 10 years with an option to purchase at £300 per annum.

Linburn HouseBlinded servicemen began to arrive at Linburn House in January 1944. Early Linburn members followed a similar programme of rehabilitation and training to those at Newington House:

  • Rehabilitation: At Linburn all Scottish War Blinded members were provided a year’s basic training upon entry including learning to read and write in Braille, typewriting and basketwork which proved highly effective in developing sensitivity in the fingertips essential for Braille reading.
  • Employment: Members were then encouraged to pursue vocational training in Linburn crafts including woodwork, mat-making, basketwork, wire work and light metal work. Upon completion of training, members had the option to remain in the workshops as part of the charity’s Sheltered Workshop Policy.
  • Specialised Training for Outside Occupations: Members, alternatively, trained for roles such as physiotherapists, short-hand typists, a telephonist, a home teacher to the blind or running a shop or small holding.

By May 1954, Linburn House had been demolished replaced by a complex of seven permanent modern workshops and offices. Seventeen houses had been built for members and their families and a hostel had been erected to house single members.  

There was a strong industrial emphasis at Linburn which produced a wide variety of consumer products for which members received a weekly allowance.The members, working in seven workshops covering wire, metal, woodwork, lampshades, plastics, cane and leather, produced stock items for presentation in the a public showroom at Linburn. The Linburn Workshops also adopted a mail order model of distribution as well as selling products at events including The Royal Highland Show.

Linburn successfully tendered for many contracts including the production of furniture for Highlands and Isles Airport, canteen furniture for Sighthill factories as well as a host of others.

Members also produced bespoke products for individuals and industry. Ideas or sketches were proposed to the workshop instructors who assessed viability ensuring projects were within the capabilities of the men. Members relished the challenge presented by new projects including the production of garden benches on wheels, lamps to be incorporated within domestic environments and pre-determined colour schemes as well as multi-tiered metal lamps for garrison churches.

The Workshops continued at Linburn until 2009.