Armadale Public House Society Limited


50a West Main Street, Armadale, West Lothian

01501 730257

Updated 24 February 2011


More information here

PLEASE NOTE: Links to thumbnail images, followed by  * , mark images that are held by SCRAN

(2); 1901*; 1938*; 1945*; 1951*; 2001*

NAS ref no RHP47841 and RHP47843 :architectural plans,  1906

NAS ref no RHP47842:architectural plans, October 1910

NAS ref no RHP47844:architectural plans, 1920

NAS ref no RHP42398:architectural plans, 1938

Malcolm Mallace*, President of Armadale Public House Society 1901 - 1922

William Aikman* Manager of The Goth 1901 - 1916

Above:  The Goth Clock Tower, West Main Street, was designed by architects Peddie & Kinnear, who also designed the Art Nouveau columned interior.  The tower was commissioned in 1924 to commemorate the 21 years of service by the Goth's first President, Malcolm MALLACE, 'Auld Maikum', President of Armadale Public House Society Ltd, 1901 - 1922.  The tower was refurbished in 1995.

Other Gothenburg Pubs
Hill of Beath Tavern


Prestonpans; Dean at Newtongrange; Edinburgh, Ballingry, Culross; Dalkeith; Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline

Prestoungrange Gothenburg

Fallin Public House Society Ltd, Gothenburg Buildings, Main Street, Stirling

Gothenburg, now Earl David Hotel, Wemys

Goth Development in Scotland

Armadale evidence of success

British Gothenburg Experiments (excellent Prestonpans Historical Society site)

Background reading

Review of the working of the Gothenburg Public-House Licensing Co. (Göteborgs Utskänknings Aktiebolag): With statistics of the malt, liquor and wine ... by compendium, tables and explanations by John Larsson.  Publisher: Göteborgs Handelstidnings Aktiebolags Tryckeri (1890)


Links to Articles in Dunfermline Heritage Roots

Temperance Issues

Tax, Legislation Facts and Figures

Hansard Report on 1907 Public Health Bill discussion of Gothenburg System


1901 - 1951

The beginning

At the end of the nineteenth century, coal mining was the main industry in Armadale. 

'About this time a few shrewd miners used to meet in "Calderhead's" or "Billy Edwards", regularly on Saturday nights, and after they had 'howked their coals, and brushed their places' all over again, the conversation turned to the question of drink, its quality and price........ [they] began to consider the possibility of setting up a public-house under the provisions of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, 1893, which would provide good quality goods for customers, where members would have a say in the management , but above all, where some of the profits would, in some form, be applied for the benefit of the community.' *

Provost Smith of Armadale was interested in an idea from the Swedish port of Gothenburg where an experimental public house, run by a co-operative society, was established as part of an effort to decrease the amount of alcohol consumed by sailors.

Malcolm Mallace, 'Auld Maikum' to his friends, member of the School Board, Parish Council and other organisations, was very interested in the idea and was able to convince others of its worth.  A public meeting was called and, under the terms of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1893, it was decided to found the Armadale Public House Society with members as detailed below. The public were invited to buy shares of 5 shillings each.  Insufficient funds were raised to rent the premises let alone to buy stock, and so Malcolm Mallace and two others visited the local coal master and benefactor, James Wood, to ask for financial support.  He backed the scheme with a loan of £1,000.

1901 Committee: Malcolm Mallace, President; John Rankine, Vice-President; William Love, Treasurer; R. Smith, Secretary; Committee: H. Friel, David Kerr, David Love, R. Drummond, J. Simpson, R. Wright, J. Adams, W. Douglas, T. Watson. Manager: William Aikman

The empty property in West Main Street belonging to Mr. Marshall the baker was secured for the business and altered to meet the requirements of The Goth, but, unexpectedly, the licence to open was not granted until October 1901.

According to its rules of operation, the premises were kept spotlessly clean and functional, housing few distractions which might tempt its patrons to linger there.


1901 - 2: At the end of the first year of operation, business had been so good that shareholders were paid a 5% dividend.  Fourteen months after opening, the first nursing association in Armadale was formed. Nurse MacAffee was appointed as District Nurse and her uniform and wages were paid by Armadale Public House Society Ltd.

1903: £400 was paid to bodies such as the band, flower shows, bowling clubs and others.
The property was extended to create a large horse-shoe bar, with two rooms.

During the next 11 years, all outstanding accounts were discharged, the building became the Society's property, and James Wood's loan was repaid.

1914: Mr Smith, Secretary, resigned because of  the pressure of municipal duties and was replaced by Mr Aikman (until his death in 1916).

1916: Mr Hamilton became Secretary and Philip Kerr became Manager.

1918: William Love resigned. Mr Brown became Treasurer.

1914-1918: 'Jock's Box' and other organisations for helping the services were the main beneficiaries of the Society's help during and after the War period.


1920: The Society and Mr McLeod, local bank agent, gave the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Appeal £200.

1921: The Ambulance Association needed a new ambulance, which was provided by the Society along with a garage, total cost £2,000.

1922: Hugh Friel, Vice-President, presided at the handover at The Cross.  Malcolm Mallace was bed-ridden and so the vehicle was taken to his window for him to see and approve.  He died later that year, and so he was succeeded by Hugh Friel as President.

1923: £781 was donated by the Society to worthy causes such as the local bowling club and Redding Pit Disasters.  Notably, Armadale Public Band received £451 for new instruments.

1924: Stained-glass windows and inside columns were added by Peddie and Kinnear.  The  Goth's arcaded clock tower with its louvred octagonal top (possibly in late nouveau style) was added that year and dedicated to Malcolm Mallace in recognition of his services. 

1924 - 1925: £3,000 was donated, £2,000 of it to the Miners' Welfare Institute.

1926: £200 to the old senior football club.

1926: Hugh Friel finished his term as President when John Ramsay was elected.

1927: An extension to The Goth was formally opened.

1929: An annual grant of 10 shillings to Persons of 65 years and over, Widows and Blind people was instituted. (By 1951 £6,000 had been paid out)  An extension to the premises was opened.

1935: Following the death of the Secretary, Mr. Hamilton, the constitution was changed.  Joseph McIndoe was engaged as Manager.

1936: William Hunter became Secretary.  A number of changes of office followed as a result of Constitution changes, which required Management members to retire for one year after each term of three years, thereby ensuring that Society members learned more about the management of the Society.


1939: Trade boomed until bar drawings moved up to a record in 1946.

26 October 1951: In the 'Historical Record and Programme for Jubilee Celebration Social Concert-Dance' *:

'[we] shall endeavour to meet the requirements of the public in future, with our usual high standard of civility, service, cleanliness, and quality of goods supplied.'

By 1951: £20,000 had been returned to good causes from profits, although there had been a post-war downturn in profits as a result of shortage of goods, high market prices, high taxation by 1947, and the devaluation of the pound.

Past Officials and Staff:

President: Messrs Mallace (21 years); Ramsay (12 years); Friel (4 (and term of 3 years)); Love (3 terms of 3 years); Reid (1 term of 3 years).

Treasurer: Messrs W. Love (18 years); Brown (19 years and term of 3 years); Mallace (2 terms); H. Knox (1 term); D. Love (1 term).

Secretary: Messrs Smith (14 years); Aikman (2 years); Hamilton (18 years); Hunter (3 terms of 3 years); Currie (3 terms of 3 years).

Manager: Messrs Aikman (15 years); Kerr (19 years); McIndoe (16 years); Paterson (almost 5 years during Mr McIndoe's service in forces).

NB figures include those in office with part of their terms incomplete.

Directors and Officials in 1951: President: John Love; Vice-President: John Kerr; Secretary: James Currie; Treasurer: David Love; Committee Members: Hugh Brown, John Ewart, Campbell Currie, David Prentice, William Pirie, John McKinnon, Peter Burns, John Prentice; Manager: Joseph McIndoe; Auditor: James C. Cessford, C.A., F.S.A.A.

The Goth 2007


1951 - 2010

1950s: The Goth became a central venue for entertainment with dance bands, pipe bands, accordion bands and folk bands, as well as a venue for weddings, christenings, funerals and parties.

The hall was refurbished , which encouraged women's groups and arts and crafts groups to use it as a meeting place.

1960s:  Financial problems tested the Goth, but it continued to give financial support to community groups.

1970s: The Goth's layout was changed and The Glendell Lounge was opened.  Couples' evenings were introduced.

The Goth function room 2006

1980s - 1990s: A financial downturn in Armadale's economy as a result of unemployment tested The Goth once more. As a result of a fall in attendance, The Glendell Lounge was reserved for functions only.

'Many changes have taken place over the last century. Armadale itself is a very different place.  The seven mines that once thrived here have passed into history.  The steelworks are no longer here.  The brickworks are long gone.  Yet THE GOTH still stands proud.  It still makes generous contributions and donations to worthy bodies.  It still has a special place in the hearts of its members and patrons, young and old.  It still has a vital role to play in the life of the community.'  Extract from 'A Celebration of 100 Years of The Goth'.

Directors and Officials in 2001: President: Alastair Young; Vice-President: Robert Hughes; Secretary: John McKechnie; Treasurer: William Love; Committee Members: Abraham McDonald (Past President), Gavin Moffat (Past President), Thomas Cordner, Charles Dundas, Brian Douglas, James Erskine, Thomas Gallacher, Ian McDonald; Manager: David Clark; John McClure

The Goth 2006

The Goth, April 2010

Above:  The Goth Clock Tower, West Main Street, was designed by architects Peddie & Kinnear, who also designed the Art Nouveau columned interior.  The tower was commissioned in 1924 to commemorate the 21 years of service by the Goth's first President, Malcolm MALLACE, 'Auld Maikum', President of Armadale Public House Society Ltd, 1901 - 1922.  The tower was refurbished in 1995.

During spring 2010, the Goth underwent major renovation work as part of  Scottish government's Town Centre Regeneration Scheme.  Funding for the work has been provided by the Scheme and by the Council. (Armadale received £353,374 from the Scheme to fund major improvements around the town.)

Clock: James Ritchie and Son (Clockmakers) Ltd have been refurbishing the clock by cleaning and restoring its frame, motor and dials .  Each dial has been completely restored, by being re-glazed and re-painted, and will be more clearly visible at night with the introduction of small fluorescent lights fitted behind each dial.  The clock's hands were re-positioned and repainted and, also, the clock's frame was cleaned and painted.

Bell: The tower's bell, above the clock, was cleaned, and the hammer and hammer support have been replaced. The hourly strike mechanism has been reinstated to strike hourly between 8am and 10pm, although it can be easily triggered to ring on special occasions.

Tower: The louvres have also been refurbished and the first-floor windows will receive attention.

As well as repairs to the roof, doors and windows, the Goth's sign will also be renovated.



Goth Memorabilia

If you have anything related to the Goth that you would be willing to share on this page, please let me know.

e-mail Rosie

Chris Friel is researching his family (details on this page) and is particularly interested to hear about his Friel family connections with the Goth.  Recently, he told me about a letter in his family's possession:

"My great-great-grandfather, James Friel, was a bartender at the Goth in the early 1900s until his death in 1914. My great-grandfather and grandfather came to the United States in 1926.  My great-grandfather was nicknamed “Big Hughie” to differentiate him from all of the other Hughs in the family. Here is the letter sent by Hugh Friel (past-President of the Goth) to his nephew (my great-grandfather) Hugh Friel, about a meeting with my grandfather, James, at the Goth in 1945.   My grandfather, James Friel, while on leave from the U.S. Army during World War II, visited with Hugh and Annie (Lyons) Friel in Armadale. At the time Hugh and Annie resided at 158 Unity Terrace in Armadale.  The James and Hugh referred to at the bottom of the first page are Hugh Friel’s (the author of the letter) sons.  At the time of the letter they too had both been living in the USA." 

 Chris commented that he has tried to keep the above as true to the original as possible, including spelling errors, capitalization and sentence lines. 

                                                                  158 Unity Terrace

                                                                   Armadale, West Lothian

                                                                   25/10/45 Scotland


          Dear Hugh

                             I have got your adress at last

          I have tried to get it for years at last I

          have got it by an unusoected visiter

          I was standing in the Goth having a glass

          of beer when a great big soldier came in

          & they man that was along with me said

          heavens see what is coming in of course

          every one was remarking about the big man

          the next thing I knew was him touching

          me on the shoulder when I look round

          the big man was at my side, he said

          I am James Friel I knew he was not

          Hughies nor James' son as I  have their

          Phots after I got over the shock I said

          you are big Hughies son he said yes

          & said uncle Hugh -- hoping to here

                                          from you soon

_____________________________________ End of front page

          well we had a long talk & a refreshment

          he told me his time was over due but he was

          going to see aunt Ann before went away

          We went up & he seen his and O boy

          wasn’t she glad to see him he had a

          long talk with her, it was after nine PM

          and his bus foo fauldhouse was almost

          dui which he got at our door, Well Hugh

          he is a fine big Strapping fellow & what

          I admired about him there was no blow

          about him he never mentioned war & neither

          did I by God.  I was glad to see him

          & was sorry he had to go, How is your wife

          & family getting along I hope you are all

          well & enjoying good health, Aunt has not

          been keeping well for some time Just is

          general weekness she is 74 Past, for myself

          I have stoped work six years ago I am in

          the best of health I will be 78 on tmas eve

          I will draw to a close & best wishes from

          Uncle Hugh & Aunt Ann

Photo of Hugh Friel, b1899 Armadale; Photo taken c1922 of James and Mary Friel

If you think you can give Chris more information, please email: cfriellynchandfriel.com