Bathgate in old picture postcards

Bathgate in old picture postcards

Author
:   William F. Hendrie
Municipality
:   Bathgate
Province
:   Lothian, West
Country
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-3167-4
Pages
:   160
Price
:   EUR 16.95 Including VAT *

Delivery time: 2 - 3 working days ((subject too). The illustrated cover may differ.

   


Fragments from the book 'Bathgate in old picture postcards'

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19. As boys play in the middle of the street it is difficult to imagine Engine Street as it is described in this postcard view of George Street as it is now known as Bathgate's main shopping street. At present it is being changed back to something like its farmer self as it is now being tumed into a pedestrian only shopping precinet. This view looks north west up the street towards its junction with Hopetoun Street. The tree lined garden on the left beyond the old fashioned gas lamp, fronted the Georgian home of the local doctor. It was later demolished to make way for more shops.

Why Engine Street was called originally by this rather strange name is a subject of argument in the town, but the most likely reason is that a mine pumping engine to rid the workings of flood water, was situated at the top of the street. It is also suggested that the name of the street was later changed to George Street as this was considered more fitting and dignified for addresses in Bathgate's main street.

20. Wee laddies, one of them barefoot, pursue the horses, hounds and riders of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt up George Street past the front of the rebuilt St. David's Church. Beyond the cross roads can be seen the spires of the Roman Catholic Church of the Immacu1ate Conception, comp1eted in 1908. We know therefore that this picture is from a later year than those of the same street on the previous two pages.

21. Bathgate saddler William Brownlee shows oae of his best customers, Sandy Stewart, proprietor of the Royal Hotel, a newly completed saddle. As the Royal had a flourishing livery stabie attached to it, with an entrance to its court yard directly opposite the saddlers where Greigs bakery is now situated in George Street, Mr. Brownlee received many orders from Mr. Stewart for both saddles and harness. Hanging on either side of the shop door are leather horse collars, which Mr. Brownlee had to tailor make for every individual order as every horse differed slightly. Fortunately Mr. Brownlee knew a lot about horses, because his father had farmed for many years in the Bathgate area, before giving up the land to try his hand as a business man in the town itself. At first the family opened a dairy in the oldest part of the town, probably in what is now known as Bennie's Yard, where the new Bathgate Museum is being created by school teacher Willie Millan. Then in 1858 old Mr. Brownlee saw the need for a saddlery in the town and opened the workshop in George Street from which he was soon supplying not only the locallivery stables and farmers, but also as a side line the local teachers with the long lithe leather tawse, the supple, slashed, split thonged snake like straps with which they chastised their scholars in time honoured Scottish tradition. After over a century and a quarter in the saddlery trade, and in the same premises in George Street, Brownlees is now the oldest business in Bathgate, with its founder's great grandson Stewart still producing top quality leatherware, some of it for his own horses which his family keep at their home, Craigs Lodge, on the outskirts of Torphichen, Bathgate's neighbouring village.

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22. The Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt meets in Torphichen Square as it still does on occasion today.

In front of the white washed range of buildings notice the gentlemen who have travelled by horse-drawn brake to the village for the occasion. They have stopped in front of the village coffee shop, whose light can be seen above the door, but the start of the hunt was always marked by the handing round of a somewhat more potent stirrup cup, served from the Torphichen Inn, which under the direction of the Davidson family still does a thriving trade in meals and drinks to this day.

Notice the village children on the slope and the older youths in the middle of the Square, eyeing the horses and the top hatted, pink coated members of the hunt.

Today fox hunting is a much more controversial sport and meets are often interrupted by hunt saboteurs from the cities and Scottish universities, but it still has a great deal of support from local young people, who enjoy the thrill of riding their horses and ponies across the open countryside around the village, where many gymkanas and other riding events are also held.

23. Torphichen's odd1y shaped village square remains 1arge1y unchanged today, but the peacefulness of this picture taken at the turn of the century is in marked contrast to the hustle and bustie of the traffic which now passes through the village.

One building which has disappeared is the old village hall, whose arched door can be seen in the centre of the picture. So too has the single storeyed cottage to the 1eft of it, while the adjacent two storeyed building became the village's Co-operative Store and with much en1arged ground floor windows is now an antique store.

Today both of the village's shops are situated at either end of the attractive range of late 18th century buildings, seen behind the wen erected to mark Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897. The village post office is now housed in the little single storeyed white washed cottage, while the house next door is now a private home, but was original1y the village coffee shop, whose externa11amp above the door was meant to attract traven ers.

The open space in the foreground of the picture, where the litt1e girls have spread their rugs ready for airing and beating, is now occupied by houses.

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