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Bathgate
Bathgate aerial.JPG
View of Bathgate, West Lothian from an aeroplane approaching Edinburgh Airport.
Bathgate shown within West Lothian
Population

20,363 (2011 census)
est. 16,300 (2006),

excluding Blackburn
OS grid reference NS973689
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BATHGATE, UK
Postcode district EH47, EH48
Dialling code 01506
Police Lothian and Borders
Fire Lothian and Borders
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
  • Linlithgow and East Falkirk
Scottish Parliament
  • Linlithgow
List of places
UK
Scotland
Coordinates: 55°54′08″N 3°38′35″W / 55.902359°N 3.643097°W / 55.902359; -3.643097

Bathgate (Scots: Bathket or Bathkit, Scottish Gaelic: Both Chèit) is a town in West Lothian, Scotland, on the M8 motorway 5 miles (8 km) west of Livingston. Nearby towns are Armadale, Blackburn, Linlithgow, Livingston, West Calder and Whitburn. Situated 2 miles (3 km) south of the ancient Neolithic burial site at Cairnpapple Hill, Bathgate and the surrounding area show signs of habitation since about 3500 BC.

History

Medieval (circa 1100 – 1500)

Former Bathgate Parish Church (remains) 2006
Remains of Bathgate's former Parish Church

Bathgate first enters the chronicles of history in a confirmation charter by King Malcolm IV of Scotland (1141 – 9 December 1165). In royal charters of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, the name of Bathgate has appeared as: Bathchet (1160), Bathket (1250) and Bathgetum (1316). Batket in the 14th century, and by the 15th appeared as both Bathgat and Bathcat. The name is a "manifest corruption" of an earlier Cumbric name meaning 'Boar Wood' (cf. Welsh baedd coed).

Early records of Bathgate are somewhat sketchy. It is recorded that, around 1160, Uchtred, Sherriff of Linlithgow, and Geoffrey de Melville came to Bathgate at the command of King Malcolm IV and measured out an area of land which was to form the basis of Bathgate Parish. The church and all its associate property were placed under the auspices of Holyrood Abbey at that time and paid a tenth of its income from the land to that institution.

In 1315, the daughter of King Robert I of Scotland (Robert The Bruce), Marjorie (alternatively spelt Margery) Bruce, married Walter Stewart (or Steward) (1293– 1326), the 6th Lord High Steward of Scotland. The dowry to her husband included the lands and castle of Bathgate. Walter died at the castle on 9 April 1326. This marriage is still celebrated in an annual pageant forming part of the Bathgate Procession & John Newlands Festival, colloquially known as the Bathgate Galaday (or Gala day).

In the 1846 book A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis writes:

Of this ancient castle, some slight traces of the foundations only are discernible, in a morass about a quarter of a mile [400 m] from the town, in which, though it has been drained and brought into cultivation, kitchen utensils of brass, and coffins rudely formed of flat stones, have been discovered by the plough

Another antiquarian, W. Jardin, in the Statistical Account of Scotland Vol I (1793), referring to Walter Stewart states:

Some traces of his mansion may be seen in the middle of a bog or loch about 14 mile [400 m] from the town. Hewn stones have frequently been dug from the foundations, and some kitchen-utensils of copper or brass have been found.

Dating from around the same time the remains of Bathgate's former parish church still stand at Kirkton. The original 12th-century construction was absorbed by a later build in 1739 when a new church was erected on the same site. The walls of the church were consolidated in 1846. This simple whitewashed edifice served the community until its last service on 9 April 1882. King Malcolm IV makes reference to the original church in a charter, granting it to the monks of Holyrood Abbey. Records show that Holyrood Abbey gave the church to the abbot and monks of Newbattle Abbey in 1327.

17th–18th centuries

In 1606 silver ore was found at nearby Hilderston, in the shadow of Cairnpapple Hill, by a prospecting collier, Sandy Maund. This accidental discovery began a short-lived crown "project" in the area. Advisers to King James VI of Scotland became aware of the mine and in April 1608 repossessed the land for the crown. By December 1608 it was clear that the ore in the mine was of varying quality and by March 1613 all efforts to extract silver from the area were abandoned.

Bathgate remained a very small rural community until the middle of the 19th century with only a foray by Covenanters in the 17th century to unrest the populace. Francis Groome, in the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4) writes:

Some of the inhabitants suffered hardship and loss in the times of the persecution; and the insurgent army of the Covenanters, when on their march from the W to Rullion Green, spent a disastrous night at Bathgate.

Robert Louis Stevenson, in the book Lay Morals, Part 2: The Pentland Rising. A Page of History further elucidates upon this night in November 1666:

A report that Dalzell was approaching drove them from Lanark to Bathgate, where, on the evening of Monday the 26th, the wearied army stopped. But at twelve o’clock the cry, which served them for a trumpet, of ‘Horse! horse!’ and ‘Mount the prisoner!’ resounded through the night-shrouded town.

His depiction goes on to describe how the half the army perished in the freezing weather as they headed towards the Pentland Hills.

19th century

Bathgate Academy(1)
Bathgate Academy in 2010

Established around 1800, the Glenmavis Distillery in Bathgate was purchased in 1831 by one John McNab, who produced the eponymous MacNab's Celebrated Glenmavis Dew from the site until the distillery's closure in 1910. In 1885, the distillery was producing 80,000 gallons of single malt a year which was transported to Scotland, England and the colonies.

In 1831 Bathgate Academy was built. Designed by the Edinburgh architects R & R Dickson this is Bathgate's only large public building of historic merit. It was endowed by a Jamaican plantation owner and slave owner, John Newlands.

By the opening of Edinburgh and Bathgate Railway in 1849, local mines and quarries were extracting coal, lime, and ironstone.

James Young’s discovery of cannel coal in the Boghead area of Bathgate, and the subsequent opening of the Bathgate Chemical Works in 1852, the world's first commercial oil-works, manufacturing paraffin oil and paraffin wax, signalled an end to the rural community of previous centuries. When the cannel coal resources dwindled around 1866, Young started distilling paraffin from much more readily available shale. The landscape of the Lothians is still dotted with the orange spoil heaps (called bings) from this era. Collieries and quarries and the associated industries (brickworks, steelworks) were the main employers in Bathgate as the 19th century drew to a close.

20th century

Bathgate-Christmas-2005-1
Bathgate on a frosty day in December 2005
Bathgate Partnership Centre - Lindsay House
Bathgate Partnership Centre - Lindsay House, opened October 28th 2011

In the mid-20th century, many local industries were closed and West Lothian was designated a Special Development Area. In such areas, extra financial inducements were offered by the British government to assist companies wishing to relocate. As a result, in 1961, the BMC — which consisted of the merged Austin Motor Company and Morris Motors — located a new truck and tractor plant in Bathgate rather than expanding their Longbridge plant as originally planned. The plant closed in 1986.

On 24 March 1986, the Bathgate-Edinburgh railway line was re-opened to passengers for the first time since the 1950s. This railway line was extended as the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link to Airdrie allowing train services to run between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Bathgate on time and on budget in December 2010.

The world's oldest known reptile fossil, Westlothiana lizziae (affectionately referred to as Lizzie), was discovered in East Kirkton Quarry, Bathgate in 1987; it is now in the Museum of Scotland.

Early in 1992, the US company Motorola opened a mobile phone manufacturing (Personal Communications Sector or PCS) plant at Easter Inch in Bathgate (now the Pyramids Business Park). In 2001, the global market for mobile phones dropped sharply and as a consequence, despite pressure from the highest levels of UK government, on 24 April 2001 Motorola announced the closure of the plant and the loss of 3,106 jobs. The 93-acre (380,000 m2) site is now occupied by HMRC.

Notable Bathgate residents have included Debbie Geddes, Bernard Gallagher, former captain of the Ryder Cup Team, David Tennant (born in Bathgate but raised in Paisley); his father Alexander McDonald, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; Sir James Young Simpson, the discoverer of the anaesthetic properties of chloroform; and John Newland, one of the town's major benefactors. Newland emigrated to the West Indies. There he became a rich planter, using slaves to maintain and harvest his sugar-cane crop. His benefaction allowed the establishment of Bathgate Academy, which was founded in 1833. He is remembered today by an annual pageant (known as the Procession or Newland's day), held on the first Saturday in June.

The local secondary schools are Bathgate Academy and St Kentigern's Academy. The Bathgate primary schools are Balbardie, St Mary's, Boghall, St Columba's, and Windyknowe. A new primary school, Simpson Primary, opened on the site of the British Leyland Factory in August 2007. It serves the new area of town called Wester Inch. The school is named after James Young Simpson.

Transport

Road

Bathgate has easy access to the M8 Motorway via Junctions 3A and 4, linking the town to Edinburgh, Inverclyde via Glasgow and Towns in between. The A801 links Bathgate to the M9 via Polmont.

Bus

Bus Services in Bathgate are co-ordinted by West Lothian Council and are provided by First Scotland East and E&M Horsburgh

Rail

Bathgate Railway Station is operated by Scotrail and is served by eastbound services to Edinburgh Waverley and westbound services to Helensburgh Central via Glasgow, Milngavie via Glasgow, and Balloch via Glasgow

Air

Edinburgh Airport is 13 miles (21 km) away.

Demography

Year 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 4,827 4,991 6,425 5,786 7,549 8,226 8,504 10,127 11,291 not available not available not available 13,819 15,068
Sources:Online Historical Population Reports, A Vision Of Britain Through Time and General Register Office for Scotland

Culture

Land art

Part of the M8 Art Project saw the artist Patricia Leighton's 'Sawtooth Ramps' project being built in 1993, now more commonly referred to as the Pyramids. The sculpture is 1,000 feet (300 m) long and consists of seven 36-foot (11 m) high ramps. The artist based the design on local geographic features (drumlins) and the shape of the surrounding bings. The pyramidal shape of the sculpture gave rise to the name of the nearby Pyramids Business park. In April 2007, a local farmer painted the sheep which graze on the pyramids bright red with a harmless sheep spray.

In 1998 the artist Lumir Soukup built the earth sculpture The Bathgate Face at Wester Inch. By taking facial measurements of more than 1200 Bathgate residents, the artist was able to create an 'average profile' which was the basis for the sculpture. Development in the area in 2004 threatened to demolish the sculpture but the artist managed to persuade developers to build around his work.

Music

Bathgate was also home to rock band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie in the 1980s and 1990s, a success of the local college's Music Industry Course.

Partner towns

  • Cran-Gevrier, France

and as part of West Lothian with:

  • Hochsauerland, Germany

Bathgate Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.