Local History

Useful Sources

This page lists sources of information that have proved useful for local history research. 

If you know of any others, please e-mail John

updated 12 September 2012


Canty / Cantie / Canties ruin

'Ogleface Quarry' supplied by Robert Owens


  • Links to thumbnail images, followed by  * , mark images that are held by external organisations

  • The Family History and Publications pages also contain links that are useful to the local historian.

  • If you decide to visit any of the places described below, you are advised to check for up-to-date information before travelling.  Some venues are subject to seasonal closure.


West Lothian Local History Library

Heritage and Information Centre,

County Buildings,

High Street,


EH49 7EZ

Phone: 01506 282491

Visit HERE for more details


Opening hours (no appointment needed): Monday - Thursday 9.00am - 5.00pm; Friday 9.00am - 4.00pm; first Saturday of month 9.30am - 1.00pm


Researchers may be interested in Heritage, the newsletter of West Lothian Heritage Services 

Examples of contents

October 2006 included:

  • Worst Disaster in West Lothian's History: the Winchburgh Railway Disaster

  • Linlithgow Union Canal Society

  • Strathbrock Stories

  • Princess opens new footbridge: the footbridge at Almond Valley Heritage Centre

  • Former Bathgate Academy saved

  • When is Statistical not Statistics?

  • The Chieftain Forge

Spring 2007 included:

  • Simply Samplers

  • Lochcote: can you help?: an appeal for a photo of Lochcote mansion house

  • Keep the Home Fires Burning

  • Putting Whitburn on the Map

  • The Armadale Nurse and the War Poet

  • Lost Mansions of West Lothian

  • The Bloody Muscovite's Descendants

  • Preserving School Archives

Spring 2008 included:

  • Archaeological investigations at the Burgh Halls,Linlithgow

  • Before the railway came: 1823 print showing part of Linlithgow canal (opened 1822) given to Linlithgow Union Canal Society

  • Granny’s getting younger!: Appeal for reminiscence items from the 1950s onwards

  • Simply Samplers make a comeback

  • Banners and Benefits

  • Can you help? These SMT bus drivers and conductresses were based in the Broxburn depot in the 1950s.

  • Lost mansions of West Lothian: Boghead House near Falside

  • Rediscovering Tom Hanlin

  • Fleming of Bathgate

  • Bathgate’s Cinema Heritage

  • West Lothian County Council 1890-1975

  • LDC Technical Library photographic collection

  • History of Armadale Association

Autumn 2008 included:

  • Good Old School Days! Redhouse School Senior Class 1961 photo

  • James Maitland

  • Historic Gems Uncovered

  • Anti-social Behaviour 18th Century Style

  • Remembrance 90

  • Log on to Your Family Tree: WLFHS

  • Linlithgow in Print

  • A Soldier's Tale: Peter Jack of Blackridge

  • Donating Objects to Local Museums

  • Bathgate History Group

  • West Lothian History and Amenity Society: Syllabus

Spring 2009 included:

  • Robert Burns and Highland Mary

  • Linlithgow Burgh Halls (update)

  • Building on our artistic heritage

  • West Lothian and the Forgotten War: Korea 1950 - 1953

  • Robert Burns, Freeman of Linlithgow?

  • Calling all Guides

  • The Incorporation of Wrights

  • Appeal for Deposits

  • Hame and Awa

  • Linlithgow for Bells

Autumn 2009 included:

  • Decoding historical documents: the school log book (Armadale used as an example under 'Changing Attitudes' section

  • Scotland's oil (details of 'Realising Shale Oil' and the 'Shale Villages' project

  • Stitching up the Past (19C embroidery from Whitburn and the Whitefords)

  • Clarendon: Past, Present, Future

  • A Blast from the Past: Camilty gunpowder mills

  • War Memorials and Doocots

  • Meldrum Fountain reassembled after 40 years

Other publications I have read included articles on subjects such as:

  • West Lothian History and Amenity Society's discovery of Christina Kay's grave ( the inspiration for Muriel Spark's character Miss Jean Brodie)

  • Buried Treasure: The Bathgate burial grounds records 

  • Levi's Uncut!

  • West Lothian and Slavery

  • East Carribber Limekilns

  • Putting West Lothian on the map


Armadale Library 01506 282282

Armadale's library and museum space at Armadale Community Education Centre, North Street, Armadale EH48 3QB


Armadale's new library under construction, attached to the front of Armadale Community Education Centre


The plaque in Armadale's former library marking its opening in 1963


Below: Part of an exhibition about Armadale's novelist, Tom Hanlin,  at Armadale Library, April - May 2008.

Below a photo from a 2007 exhibition entitled: Levi's uncut, which told the story of Levi's factory in Whitburn.


Blackridge Community Museum, Blackridge Library, Craiginn Centre, Blackridge, EH48 3RJ   Contact 01501 752396 

Blackridge Community Museum houses, for half a year, a nineteenth century coaching display as well as the village's history.  Open all year.  Touring exhibitions other times.

Below: Photos of exhibits from Blackridge Community Museum Exhibitions 2007 - 2008:

An exhibition of 6 Modern Young People's Banners created by Armadale primary pupils who worked with textile artist Anna Cocciadiferro as part of the Threading Together Project in response to WLC Museums Exhibition about Friendly Societies in Spring 2008.  Pupils from Armadale, Eastertoun and St Anthony's Primary Schools co-operated in designing and making banners, which recalled the days of juvenile Friendly Societies in Armadale a century ago.

Top: St Anthony's RC PS; Middle: Armadale PS; Bottom: Eastertoun PS



Banners and Benefits, the colourful history of West Lothian Friendly Societies

The Exhibition was based on the research of Elizabeth Henderson.  Visitors learned how early friendly societies, based on local trades, experienced difficulties when their membership grew older and made increasing demands on society funds. 

From 1793, the self-help organisations grew and flourished, attaining their greatest popularity by the end of the 1800s. As a result of small weekly sums paid by members, the societies, which were also owned and run by members, paid sickness benefit to needy members and also pensions to widows. 

In 1914, National Insurance changed to central administration and  society membership declined. 

Realising that the NHS would be incapable of total provision, Sir William Beveridge, architect of the Welfare State, tried in vain to encourage members to stay with their societies, but, by the mid-1960s, West Lothian's local friendly societies had disappeared. 

Photo above: Armadale banner discovered in 2001.

Photo below - centre: Armadale Thistle Lodge banner. 

Everyday items of Blackridge life

More elements of Blackridge life: the environment, Craig Inn, stagecoach and rail travel, and Gala Day

Bennie Museum (Features: Dr Simpson, inventor of chloroform, and James 'Paraffin' Young; early photographs; Victoriana)  9 - 11 Mansefield Street, Bathgate, EH48 4HU

01506 634944 

See Archive 3, 2007 for photographs of the Museum

Whitburn Community Museum for permanent display about history of town and area coal mining. Open all year.  Touring exhibitions also.

Whitburn Library, West Main Street, EH47 0AR 

01501 678050

Broxburn Community Museum for history of Broxburn and Uphall and Shale Oil industry for half a year.  Open all year.  Touring exhibitions other times.

Broxburn Library, West Main Street, EH52 5RH 

01506 775600

Linlithgow Library, The Vennel, Linlithgow

01506 775490

Museums in the Armadale Area

West Lothian Museum Collections

Linlithgow Heritage Trust, Annet House, 143 High Street, Linlithgow. 01506 670677 
Linlithgow Canal Centre and Museum, Canal Basin, Manse Road, Linlithgow

01506 671215 (answerphone); 01506 843194 (bookings). 

Hopetoun House Preservation Trust, Queensferry, West Lothian. 

Only open for special events during the winter.  See website for opening times. 0131 331 2451.

Almond Valley Heritage Trust, Millfield, Livingston Village

01506 414957 


The History of Armadale Association

meets at the Methodist Church, on the second Tuesday of every month, at 7pm.

New members welcome!

Contact info on webpage


Tom Gordon (left), researcher of the Dale Boys, with HAA chairman, Ron Dingwall, at the West Lothian History and Heritage Fair 2008 stall, which featured memorabilia, photos and publications from both organisations as well as the Armadale website


West Lothian History and Amenity Society


The West Lothian History Society was established in 1965 as a result of evening classes led by Edinburgh University lecturer Basil Skinner. 

In 1975, after local government reorganisation, the Society changed its name to the West Lothian History and Amenity Society.  Its role was give the local authority guidance on sensitive planning matters as well as planning applications, which concerned listed buildings and conservation areas.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the Society published a series of local history pamphlets about Sir Robert Sibbald of Kipps, the Queensferry Passage, the assassination of the Regent Moray, and Mid Calder over the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Since then, it has been responsible for other interesting publications such as Routes Across West Lothian, A Transport History Map, produced by West Lothian History and Amenity Society, printed by Nimmos, Edinburgh, and Where were you, when spitfires flew? Life on the Home Front, A collection of stories by 40 West Lothian residents who kept the home fires burning, compiled by members of West Lothian History and Amenity Society, produced under the Home Front Recall scheme, funds provided by the Big Lottery Fund.

It has a varied programme of speakers and its members always come armed with curiosity, information and infectious enthusiasm (from personal experience !).

Meetings take place monthly on a Wednesday evening at 7.30pm


West  Lothian Family History Society

The Society holds a workshop each month at Library HQ. For more information about the Society and its workshops,

e-mail: honsecwlfhs.org.uk or contact Sybil Cavanagh at West Lothian Local History library, Blackburn

To give you a taster of the Society's publication, the December 2008 edition of their Journal The Oak Tree included articles on subjects such as: Crime and Punishment; Irish Research; What's in a Name?; DNA for the Family Historian; Kirk o' Shotts; A Movie Star's Ancestral Trail; Census Humour

The following are sites that we have found useful. More can be found on other pages of this website such as the Family History page. Why not e-mail Rosie if you would like to suggest others?
Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland
Edited by Francis H. Groome (1892-6)
Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791 - 1845 Archives and Records Centre

9 Dunlop Square, Deans Ind Estate, Livingston, EH54 8SB

01506 773770



Armadale Military History
Bathgate History Group

meets in Bathgate Community Centre, Marjoribanks Street, every second Wednesday at 2pm.

New members welcome!


Scottish Heritage Society West Lothian Branch

Meetings: Regal Theatre, Bathgate,

First Tuesday each month,

6 February - 5 June,

7.30pm - 9.30pm

Annual Membership Fee

01506 652174

West Lothian Museum Service: Reminiscence Boxes

Loan Service

Library HQ, Connolly House, Hopefield Road, Blackburn

01506 776321


West Lothian Council Cemeteries
SAFHS: Scottish Association of Family History Societies Lothians Family History Society Scottish Genealogy Society Fife Family History Society



Recording Scottish Graveyards   ASGRA:
Association of Scottish Genealogists
& Researchers in Archives
National Archives of Scotland

From 1 April 2011, the General Register Office for Scotland merged with the National Archives of Scotland to become the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The official repository for public records, as well as the biggest collection of private papers, in Scotland.

Historical Search Room in General Register House; West Search Room in West Register House, Charlotte Square (where maps and plans, mostly topographical, can be consulted from the 'RHP' series, an artificial collection of over 150,000 maps and plans requiring special storage because of their size or format - there are exceptions, so search the online catalogue!)

Useful NAS pamphlets include: Sources for Family History; Maps and Plans in the National Archives; Records of Trades and Crafts; Sources for Military History; Sources for Emigrants; Tracing the History of Buildings

National Register of Archives for Scotland

established by National Archives of Scotland (NAS) in 1946

  •  to compile a record of papers of historical significance in private hands in Scotland

  • to locate such papers

  • to encourage their care

This index to UK archive collections is comprehensive as it covers records held in archives, libraries, museums and also private hands.

4,100 surveys of private papers including the records of landed estates, private individuals, businesses, law firms and societies. Paper copies of these surveys can be consulted in the National Archives of Scotland  (West Register House), National Library of Scotland and The National Archives (TNA), Kew

Society of Antiquaries

The oldest antiquarian society in Scotland, founded in 1780, incorporated by Royal Charter in 1783.


'the study of the antiquities and history of Scotland, more especially by means of archaeological research'

Historic Scotland (established 1991)

'the agency within the Scottish Executive responsible for administering the legislation that protects ancient monuments (buildings, ruins, archaeological sites and landscapes). It provides general advice on the preservation and protection of Scotland's heritage'

Historic Scotland has produced a series of attractive, well-illustrated information leaflets, such as:

Industrial Scotland; Prehistoric Settlement; Prehistoric Defences; Cropmark Archaeology; Churches and Abbeys; Lords and Lairds; Early Historic Scotland; Carves Stones; Farming Since Medieval Times; Scheduled Monuments: A Guide for Owners, Occupiers and Managers.

National Library of Scotland

(established 1925)

  • A legal deposit library with the right to request a copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland
  • Reading Rooms in the George IV Bridge building, Edinburgh
  • Access to 'printed books, journals, newspapers, manuscripts, photographs and special collections'
National Library of Scotland: Maps

The Map Library, one of the largest in the world, is based in the Causewayside building at Salisbury Place, Edinburgh.  The collection covers 700 years. As well as atlases, gazetteers and cartographic reference books, it  includes nearly two million printed maps, 100,000 maps on microfilm and over 250,000 digital maps

Useful Map Library Leaflets:

  • 1: Early Ordnance Survey Maps of Scotland 1840s  - 1940s
  • 2: Early Maps of Scotland before 1850

CAIRT: Newsletter of the Scottish Maps Forum, established 2002 by the NLS

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

(established 1908), situated at John Sinclair House, 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh

'Scotland's collection of buildings, archaeology and industry'

In its handy User Guide to the Resources of RCAHMS, recording, interpreting and collecting information on the built heritage of Scotland are identified when describing its role, whereas Historic Scotland's role is 'to safeguard the built heritage on behalf of the Scottish Executive', ie managing properties, listing buildings and scheduling Ancient Monuments.  However, RCAHMS has the right to record Listed Buildings as well as conservation area buildings, which are to be subject to some, if not total, demolition as a result of granted permission.

The RCAHMS website provides access to several databases, (Scotland's National Collection of Aerial Photographs, for example) and its index page provides many useful weblinks to outside bodies.

Scotland's Rural Past

Saving the Past for the Future

An exciting five year project (2006 - 2011), hosted by Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, with partnership funding.

In its leaflet Discover and preserve our rural heritage, readers are reminded of the importance of local research:

'Until recently farming was the backbone of Scotland's economy and culture.  Generations of rural communities worked the land and shaped the countryside we see today.  This rural way of life has changed dramatically and many of these communities have now disappeared...

we can still see the evidence of this past in the ruins of the settlements they left behind and in many more subtle features in the landscape.... 

You can help!  You can find and record these settlements before they disappear, and you could explore their stories and the lives of the people that lived in them.'

General Register Office for Scotland
The School of Scottish Studies
Archives & Library

(Material collected for the School's archives since 1951)

Archives include Scottish Place-Name Survey and 10,000 images in its Photographic Archive

Archives can be consulted at 27 - 29 George Square, Edinburgh

Scottish Archive Network

A project whose partners are:

the National Archives of Scotland (NAS), the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU).

Aim:  to revolutionise access to Scotland's archives by providing a single electronic catalogue to the holdings of more than 50 Scottish archives.

Need help with local history research further afield?  Resources for Highland and Islands at

 Am Baile

where you will discover 'photographs, illustrations, rare books and documents as well as short films, audio clips, interactive games and comics'.

The National Archives (TNA), Kew


  • Guarantee the survival of today's information for tomorrow
  • Bring history to life for everyone
  • Lead and transform information management

TNA is the UK government's official archive, covering about 1,000 years.  It holds one of the world's largest collections with 11,000,000 items from the Domesday Book to modern government papers.  Useful for service records of post-1707 British Army (including Scottish regiments), many militia records, and sources for emigration.

Access to Archives

A2A is part of the UK archives network. The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.

ARCHON Directory

A list of Scottish repositories of archives

Archives Hub
  • One part of the UK's National Archives Network
  • Access to 23,495 descriptions of archives held in 184 UK repositories
  • Complete catalogue descriptions are provided where they are available
National Museums Scotland Library Catalogue
Scotland's Places

A new web resource which enables the user to search across different national databases using geographic location

Scottish Local History Forum

(founded 1983)

Useful Local History Links and sample issues can be examined

Online Historical Population Reports
Online access to the complete British population reports for Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1937.
Old Maps

Digitised copies of OS historical maps

See our Archaeology Index Page for a full list of useful links.  Some are mentioned below.
WoSAS Sites and Monuments Record The West of Scotland Archaeology Service Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society SAIR

Scottish Archaeology Internet Reports

The Scottish Industrial Heritage Society Scottish Mining Museum The Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland
Scottish History Scotland Timeline Scottish History Online Kings and Queens of Scotland
Beginners' Latin

Practical online tutorial

1086 - 1733


1500 - 1800

Advanced Latin Latin Palaeography
Dictionary of the Scots Language Scottish Handwriting  


SCRAN : Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network
  • 'a charity and online learning resource base with over 360,000 images & media from museums, galleries, archives and the media';
  •  aim: ' to provide educational access to digital materials representing our material culture and history';
  • part of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
  • free access to thumbnail images
  • subscription needed for full access

One of the largest UK educational online services founded in 1996 by: The National Museums Scotland, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, The Scottish Museums Council and, by invitation, the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum.

  A Daunder Round Armadale, produced by The History of Armadale Association, 1999: amateur video produced to stimulate interest among walkers and other community groups, in some of the historic countryside walks around Armadale

Britain from Above


Bathgate Festival 1951 film clip

Film clip of Livingston village c1960

Prestonpans film clip


Bo'ness Fair 1912 film clip 192.com

One of the websites that gives free access to aerial photos

The Early Years of John Graham

A social history of Woodend Farm and the Armadale area through the eyes of the Graham family.

Tired of desk-bound research?  Why not visit this wonderful new website?

Heritage Paths


  • ' to collect as much knowledge of old paths in Scotland as possible'
  • to promote the existence and the heritage of these paths'

The River Avon Heritage Trail (see Ordnance Survey Map 349)

More info: 01501 823919 or visit

The Central Forest Trust website

(Westfield Viaduct, which carried coal from local mines; Wallace's Cave; Torphichen Mill and cottage, birthplace of Henry Bell, pioneer of steam navigation; Carriber Bridge, world's first stress-laminated wooden bridge; the Muiravonside Country Park, 170 acres formerly owned by the Stirlings of Falkirk; the second longest British aqueduct; the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal)

See Places to Visit in West Lothian for photos and information about some of the places mentioned below
An ancient Covenanters' Banner (shown left, flown at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge (1679), which saw the defeat of the Covenanters by the King's troops.  It is believed that the banner was carried by John Main, Laird of Ballochney, through whose family it passed until it was displayed on an Airdrie pub wall for over 100 years.

The Local Studies Discovery Room at Airdrie Library in Wellwynd, Airdrie.

More photos of the Local Studies Room HERE

A model of the Charlotte Dundas of 1803, the world's first practical steam ship, based on the reconstruction by G T Ball of London, at Callendar House, Falkirk

Torphichen Preceptory



Open April - September weekends and bank holidays.


A Topographical

Dictionary of Scotland (1846)

Armadale description

Blackness Castle

Pier where visitors can moor their boats!

01506 834807

Hopetoun House, South Queensferry

Marquesses of Linlithgow family seat, built over 300 years ago. (Original furniture, paintings, 150 acres of woodland, views of the Forth and 2 bridges, rooftop viewing platform).

House of the Binns, Linlithgow

Dalyell family seat for 350 years gives stunning view of the Forth and is open daily (except Fridays) May - September


Bo'ness Motor Museum

Linlithgowshire (West Lothian)

(from Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland

1882 - 4)

Linlithgow Civic Trust Arts Services

& the Burgh Halls Project


Linlithgow Palace

birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, situated in a beautiful lochside position, open all year

See our other kite aerial photos of the Palace HERE

Cairnpapple Hill

Historic Scotland Site Office at Cairnpapple: 01506 634622


The highest point in West Lothian for wonderful views and an important prehistoric site


(Infra-red KAP)

See our other photos of the site HERE

  • Refuge Stane, Witchcraig, east of Torphichen, north east of Cairnpapple

  • Gormyre Stone, east of Torphichen north west of Cairnpapple   

  • Raven Craig Cairn, between Cairnpapple and Bathgate

  • Galabraes, south of Cairnpapple on road to Bathgate 

  • Kinneil (for details of the Antonine Wall)

  • The Boar Stane between Armadale and Blackridge

  • Witches Stane between Torphichen and Linlithgow