The weir was built by James Young, the pioneer of the oil shale working across West Lothian. It is unique in that the weir (which creates the falls) was not intended to generate power from the falling water, rather it was built to honour David Livingstone and his explorations across the African continent. It was designed to be a mini Victoria Falls, on the boarder of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Later a laid (the channel that directs water to a different location, usually for power) added, and this can be seen on the north side of the river. Looking at old maps you can see that the laid was used to supply water to the formal gardens, vegetable garden and orchards of Limefield House which was owned by the Young family.
The site is part of a popular walking route in Polbeth, there is a board walk, bridge and formalised paths along the Harwood Water. The plastic board walk westwards and the former viewing point at the falls have been subject to vandalism and have fallen popularity.
Working with West Lothian Council and CSGNT, work has already begun by CSGNT to reinstate the path under the rail bridge. FRT, through the RiverLife project, will continue to work with these partners to develop a fish pass using the old lade to form a ramp for fish, this type of fish pass is called a ‘larinier’ and will allow fish to travel up the Harwood once again. We will then be rebuilding the viewing platform on top of the fish pass so locals and visitors can have a focal point of the river and falls once again.
Where can I see it?
Coordinates: Harwood Water
Limefield Falls is on a tributary of the river Almond called the Harwood Water and is in a peaceful wooded area in the village of Polbeth. There is a car park along a track off the Park Drive/Stable Lane roads at the east end of the village, or it a leisurely walk along a series paths through the local parks and riverside.
Planning is happening in 2019 and it is hoped to be built in the summer, with the viewing platform on top of that no later than 2020.