County of West Lothian  

The County of West Lothian is bounded by Midlothian to the east, enclosed by the Firth of Forth to the north, and Stirlingshire to the West and Lanarkshire to the south west. Coal mining, agriculture and manufacturing were the main source of employment. In the 19th century shale oil extraction to make paraffin was a major source of employment. Prior to the Local Government Acts of 1975 West Lothian was also known as Linlithgowshire. The two main rivers in the County are the Almond and the Avon both of which flow into the River Forth. Like all the counties of the Lothians it has it's own local authority, courts of justice, byelaws and rates system. The county town is Linlithgow, a ancient Royal Burgh and home to Linlithgow Palace which without doubt played more than it's part in the history of the making of present day Scotland. But more of that can be found on the West Lothian Towns and Villages page. To access simply click on the link or here.

The other Burgh's in the county are Armadale, Bathgate,and Whitburn. In 1946 the New Town of Livingston was set up under legislation and is also a Burgh. Prior to his death the MP for Livingston was the well known Robin Cook. The world champion Snooker player Stephen Hendry is a native of South Queensferry which when he was born in 1969 was part of West Lothian prior to regionalisation in 1975. He was the world champion snooker player seven times and without doubt one of the the greatest living snooker player. West Lothian and in particular Livingston was known as silicon glen because of major companies in the computer chip industry making Livingston their home base. West Lothian has three country parks. They are Almondell and Calderwood Country Park,. Beescraigs Country Park and Polkemmit.

The position of West Lothian situated midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh makes it an ideal base if you are on a touring holiday of Scotland. In the 1800's the population of the County was just over 14,000. Today it is over 160,000 and rising. The geography is of course ideal for commuting. The area is blessed with historic building, Linlithgow Palace as already mention to Hopetoun House and the House of Binns to name but a few. All steeped in history. The main ones are listed at the foot of this page with links. In 1989 the oldest known fossil of a reptile was found in West Lothian by the professional collector Stanley Wood. It was estimated to be in the region of 338 million years old. So if fossil hunting is your thing well you are in the right place. One of the largest shopping centre's is the Almondvale centre at Livingston. A very good day out, but be careful not to spend all your money. Accommodation, Rail and transport links are as good as you will get anywhere in the country.

Linlithgow

Linlithgow palaceLinlithgow is the county town of West Lothian and a ancient Royal Burgh, built on the south side of Linlithgow Loch. Originally it was one street running east to west with a few alleyways leading of. Many of the original buildings were built by the Knights of St John. Many of those had originally been Knights Templar,but as there was no persecution of them in Scotland, they were simply allowed to transfer over. The preceptory for the order was at nearby Torphican to the south. It is thought that the oldest remaining buildings are at 44-48 The High Street dating from the 16th century. They are privately owned. Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond was born in Linlithgow on the 31st December 1954. John Knox the leader of the Scottish Protestant Reformation was the rector of Linlithgow School from 1561 until; he was banished in 1562. Standing near the Loch is one of the finest medieval churches in Scotland, consecrated on the 22nd May 1242 by the Bishop of St Andrews is St Michael's Parish Church. The magnificent ancient monument Linlithgow Palace stands in the centre of the town right on the shore of the Loch. There has been a Royal Manor of some description at this location since the time of David I (1084-1153). It was converted into a base for his army by Edward I of England on the siege of Stirling. The Palace was recaptured by a few Scottish Soldiers in 1313 who were smuggled inside the walls on a hay-cart. You could not make this up. Arguably Scotland's most famous monarch Mary Queen of Scots was born in the Palace on 7th December 1542. Only six days later on the death of her father James V she became Queen of Scotland. In 1633 Charles I was the last monarch to stay in the Palace. Oliver Cromwell spent the winter of 1650/1 at Linlithgow. On the 31st January 1746 the Duke of Cumberland and his army on their pursuit of the Jacobite's spent the night at the Palace. Whether by design or accident the quarters caught fire melting the lead roof. The Palace is now under state care.

Livingstone

Almondvale centreAlthough Livingston is Scotland's fourth New Town having come on the scene around 1962 the Parish of Livingston has been around since the 12th century. It is generally accepted that it was named after a merchant from Flanders who went by the name of Leving. It is thought he settled in the area around 1120. His son one Thurstanus Filius Levingi witnessed David I granting a charter to the Monks of Holyrood. Livingston is placed midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and on the road and rail link connecting the two cities. Thus the ideal setting for a new town. The initial target for population was 70,000 and this was achieved by around the beginning of the 80's. The area houses four industrial estates and science parks attracting high tech industry. After Edinburgh, Livingston is now the largest town in the Lothians. In 1995 the local football team combined with the Edinburgh team Meadowbank Thistle and now play in the Scottish Football league under the name of Livingston FC. The purpose built stadium is in Livingston and called City Stadium. Almond vale in the centre of the town is a massive retail and shopping complex. Combined with the designer outlet village at Mc Arthur Glen it makes a mighty fine way to do a days shopping. The photograph on the left shows part of the Almond vale shopping complex

Armadale

ArmadaleAlthough Armadale has been around for some time it really came into being on the opening of the great road between Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1786 when the road was opened to traffic. Most of Armadale was built on the estate or barony of Barbauchlaw. The owner of the land was one Sir William Honeyman who was a Senator of the College of Justice and a Lord Commissioner of Justiciary and he sat on the bench as Lord Armadale. The town took the name from him and became known as Armadale, Linlithgowshire. The first pit in Armadale was sunk at Colinburn where they found a brown black seam which had not been seen before. This attracted the attention of James Young a notable chemist who investigated such finding. He later discovered paraffin which was extracted from shale. The nearby Carron Iron Works which was at the forefront of the industrial revolution was opened in nearby Falkirk in 1759. On the discovery of coal in Armadale the Iron works used much of the coal from this area. If you are into archeology then finding the exact location of Ogilface Castle could make you famous in that area. Although the main industries such as coal are now long gone in the area, Armadale is a thriving town in the Central Belt of Scotland and amongst many other activities has its own football team. The photograph on the left was taken in 1907.

Bathgate

BathgateBathgate an industrial town and once the centre of a medieval sheriffdom and a staging post on the main Edinburgh - Glasgow Road, can certainly lay claim to going back into history. Entering the history books at the time of King Malcolm IV of Scotland . It was given as a dowry by Robert I in 1316 when his daughter Marjorie married Walter the High Steward. This was the start of the Stewart dynasty who ruled Scotland until 1689. In the 18th century it expanded rapidly as it became an important centre in the hand loom weaving industry. Coal and shale mining also expanded rapidly at this time and James Young opened his first paraffin refinery in the town in 1850. During the 17th century French weavers settled in the area , bringing the art of weaving with them. Jarvey Street is named after one of those French families. Around 1800 Glenmavis Distillery came on the scene, exporting whisky across the globe. The distillery closed prior to the First World war. By the mid 1800's Bathgate had been connected by rail road which greatly enhanced it's status in the commercial world. However it could not escape the Beeching cuts in the 60's. By then of course the main industries had well and truly gone and the area had a high unemployment rate. It has now improved and the railway line reopened. Sir James Young Simpson who discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform and successfully introduced it for general medical use was born in Bathgate on the the 7th June 1811. Such was the importance of his contribution to medicine that on his death in Edinburgh on the 6th May 1870 a burial spot was offered to his family at Westminster Abbey. Sadly as history moved on, they declined and he was interred in Warriston Cemetery. The photograph on the left shows the town centre.

Whitburn

Whitburn stands on the Almond River and like most of the towns of West Lothian is situated between Edinburgh and Glasgow the two main cities of the central belt of Scotland. It has a population of around 13,000 people and was first mentioned in history when David II granted land to Ade Forrester called Whytebourde. In 1452 George de Crichton was designated Baron of Whitburn and several stories abound as to the origin of how Whitburn became named. The main industry in the immediate past was coal and iron. In 1915 the Polkemmet Colliery was sunk and remained a major source of employment until it was shut down in the 1980's. Polkemmet Country Park is one of the main attractions of the town and is truly an ideal venue for the whole family offering recreation from golf to country walks.The ground were once owned by the Baillie family and is home to a variety of wild life . A family mausoleum stands in the grounds. Whitburn Brass Band was formed in 1870 and has been Scottish champions on no less than 15 occasions. It is currently ranked 7th in the world. Today Whitburn is a thriving community offering good civic amenities and caters for aspects of tourist needs from golf to swimming.

Bridge Castle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge  01506 77631
Blackness Castle https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place 01506 834807
House of Binns https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/house-of-binns 0131 458 0200
Hopetoun House https://hopetoun.co.uk 0131 331 9940
Linlithgow Palace https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place   01506 842896
Niddry Castle https://www.thecastlesofscotland.co.uk/the-best-castle Private Propety