Shops and Public Houses and other businesses

The History of Businesses in the Armadale Area

e-mail Rosie

Updated 16 February 2012

Please note that this page is in the early stages of development

On this page

  • Shop unit statistics

  • Businessmen

  • Banks

  • Pubs, inns, taverns, hotels

  • Co-op

  • Other past Armadale shops and services

  • Former recent businesses/ premises in Armadale

See also Population for more names and statistics

See also Development

See also Employment and Industries


Shop unit occupancy comparing January 2009 and January 2007, expressed as a percentage of total town centre shop units in Armadale Town Centre:
January 2009 (%): Overall occupancy: 88.2
January 2007 (%): Overall occupancy: 90

Armadale Shops (May 2006)

Total shop units: 69; vacant: 5; charity shops: 0

Lowest rental values of West Lothian's major towns

Current businesses that we know of.  If your business isn't listed, let us know!

Some of the Armadale-related businessmen and businesswomen who appear in NAS catalogues

Walter ADAMSON, grocer, 1869; William George BLACK, baker, 1908 and 1912; Mathew DONALDSON, grocer, 1872;  James & Alexander FINLAY, merchants, 1870;  Archibald GALL and William HAY, merchants, 1869;  ; Henry HALBERT, merchant, 1869; John JEFFREY, watch maker, 1882; David KERR, boot and shoe merchant, 1911; Robert LEISHMAN, publican, 1877;  James and Donald MacDONALD, 1784; Robert McNAB, butcher, 1905; Elizabeth and William MAIR and Co, grocers, 1889; Alexander MARSHALL, merchant 1911; William MILLER, farm dealer, 1911; James MORTON, grocer, 1884; William ORR, inn keeper, 1878; William Innes PATERSON, farmer, 1900; George SIMPSON, hotel proprietor, 1908; Gilbert STEWART, grocer, 1911; Robert STEWART, grocer, 1911; Jacob STIRLING (Brown Brothers, grocers) 1897; Joseph SYSON, merchant, 1869;  Maurice THOMSON, merchant, 1881 and 1889; James WYLIE, merchant, 1911. 

The first bank in Armadale was the Commercial Bank of Scotland in 1889

More information in Past and Present Chap II

By 1862 there were 15 licensed premises in Armadale

Armadale Public House Society Limited


Above:  The Goth Tower, West Main Street, dedicated to Malcolm MALLACE, 'Auld Maikum', President of Armadale Public House Society Ltd, 1901 - 1922.  Under the provisions of the 1893 Industrial and Provident Societies Act, customers received good quality goods, members would play a role in management, and some of the profits made would be applied for the benefit of the community.

Masonic Arms Spirit Merchant 1903*

Mary Campbell built Railway Tavern aka Masonic Arms, in 1859

NAS ref no RHP42404:architectural plans, 1935


The site of Bathville Inn,  demolished after a fire in 2006

Past and Present Chap I : Boarbauchlaw Toll

Armadale Inn

1797: George Swan obtained a feu at the Cross and built an inn on west side of Armadale Cross, called  Armadale Inn, after landowner Lord Armadale. Later, it was known as the Old Inn.  It was built at the crossing of the toll road and the Bo'ness to Wilsontown road.  The tall chimney at the front of the current Regal Bar marks the site of that inn.  The initial building was 1 storeys with 2 attic bedrooms and several sitting rooms.  It provided horses for hire from its stables, as well as changes of horse for stage coaches.  The building costs were financed by Mr Reid of Bathgate who claimed first option should the business ever be for sale.
1808: Inn bought by Mr Reid of Bathgate. John Harvie, stonemason, brother of Thomas of Mill Farm, became its tenant and manager.
1858: Inn was bought by William Edwards, Pit Oversman.

Crown Hotel

1857: The Crown Hotel was built by Mr. Murray of Springfield on the corner of West Main Street and South Street. James Bishop became publican and grocer there.
1858 John Wilson bought the Crown Hotel and Stonerig Farm on the Polkemmet Estate. John Calderhead became farm manager.
1862: John Wilson sold the Crown Hotel and leased Whitockbrae Farm
1907: NAS ref no RHP47838 andRHP47839 : architectural plans for James B. Greig
1939: NAS ref no:RHP42391: architectural plans

Buckshead Tavern aka West End Vaults

1858: James Beveridge built Buckshead Tavern aka West End Vaults. 

The Tavern was the first meeting place of the Thistle Lodge of Free Gardeners, the first Friendly Society in Armadale.

1860:  The Tavern was officially instituted by the western Grand Lodge of Scotland.

NAS ref no:RHP47818: architectural plans for James B. McNab, May 1901
NAS ref no:RHP47826: architectural plan for George Barrowman, April 1911

The Star Inn /Star Inn Vaults

1861: The tollkeeper's house on the north-east corner of The Cross later became The Star Inn.  Ann Young built the Star Inn at 2 East Main Street.  Later became the Star Hotel.
1880s: John Kerr was the publican of Star Inn Vaults.
April 1911: NAS ref no RHP47827: architectural plans for Thomas Milne.
1935 and 1927: NAS ref no RHP42416 and NAS ref no RHP42418: architectural plans.

1862: James Verrier's Inn opposite the Star Inn

1862: Thomas Bishop's pub in South Street

Railway Tavern later the Masonic Arms

Owner in 1859, 1862: Mary Campbell

Bathville Store and Inn: Alex McAra, proprietor, resident in James Wood's former residence, Bathville House, from 1905.

Bathgate Hotel

1858: Reid's Bathgate Hotel sold to Edwards.

Past and Present  Chap VIII re other businesses

Armadale Cop-operative Society Ltd: NAS cat ref FS5/47

As Armadale was an isolated community, its workers were dependent on their company stores for their needs.  However, the stores were infamous for their high prices and also the poor quality of their wares.

7 August 1861: Armadale's first established Co-op was at the bottom of Bullion Brae.  The aim of the workmen who founded it was to supply 'goods of a superior quality at cost price'.  However, it only lasted until 1868, because of credit problems..

1873: Armadale's Co-op began again, this time on a cash-only basis, and it continued so successfully that, at one time, it was the richest co-operative society in Scotland.

1886: Armadale Co-op's new store and bakery opened in West Main Street.  (At first the store had been situated in McDonald's Hall, but the acquisition of the adjacent bakery was secured in 1879 via the intervention of their first Secretary Alex Mallace.)

More nearby buildings were acquired in the next 20 years, often involving considerable rebuilding.

The branch store operated from Bathville and outlying villages were served by horse-drawn vans.

By 1905, the Co-op's butchermeat was so popular that the original department on West Main Street had been incorporated into the Co-op's main building and two horse-drawn vans were used to serve outlying villages.  The store was so large that its ground floor premises included departments, either as part of the general store, or as separate departments/shops: boots, bread, butcher's shop, crockery, drapery, furniture and grocery.  Above were: a boardroom and library as well as a tailors' workshop and a dressmakers' workshop.  At the back of the building were van-rooms and stables.

1972: Armadale's Co-op merged with West Calder Co-operative Society.

1982: The latter Society was in turn taken over by the Scottish Midland Co-operative Society.

Armadale Co-operative Society

More information about the Co-op in Past and Present Chap XVIII

During the Second World War, food came loose and had to be packaged on the premises:

"Most of the food had to be made up in the shop.  Even in the bread shop next door, the biscuits were loose in square tins.  The sugar came in bags and was weighed out on Mondays behind the desk, and many a game of football was discussed in the process.  The butter came in cwt casks from Denmark and it was weighed out on Tuesdays; we got a bit fed up listening to the thumps of the butter spades.  The cheese came wrapped in muslin which made great dusters, and it was all cheddar cheese with a skin.  Even tobacco had to be cut and weighed and that was a job for old Jimmy Cooper who was too old to serve at the counter."

Extract from an article in  Your Magazine, 1993, History of Armadale Association: M. Blair nee McIndoe


PLEASE NOTE I have placed businesses in relevant streets where known, although the order of the businesses does not necessarily demonstrate their exact location along the street or indicate identical time periods for all the premises mentioned.  It is hoped that a history of Armadale businesses can eventually be constructed in chronological order.

The streets were not known as East and West Main Street until 1881

Our thanks to Jane Kilpatrick (nee Rankin) who told us about her father Tom Rankin, the photographer. 

'He took many wedding photographs for couples throughout the 1960's and 1970's.   He had a shop in West Main Street and latterly South Street (next to the Post Office and Dicksons Chemist).  The shop in South Street also sold fishing tackle, sports equipment, toys and sweets and the South Street shop closed in 1980. '

'The original one was located at 37 West Main Street, Armadale.  He was a professional photographer and did all of his own developing and printing in his darkroom but he also sold a wonderful selection of fishing and sporting goods.  The shop then relocated to 4 Ochilview Square, Armadale which was located on South Street.  It was within a brand new shop development and was located between Glendale Chemists (Billy Dickson) and the Post Office.  Again my dad sold an extensive range of fishing tackle, sports goods, toys, photography equipment and sweets.  I myself worked in the shop on Saturdays.  My mother and brother also worked in the shop and I can remember many a Gala Day when customers would come in at the last minute and have my dad check their camera ensuring that the film and batteries were OK!!!'

Posted June 2009

Fraser's butcher's shop: above were the local Parish Offices Alex McAra, grocer, proprietor of Bathville Store and Inn Lockhart Vidler, barber at Bathville Cross  
Wullie Mcindoe: milk Harry Laing: butcher. Tam Ronald: fish with herring hung on stick on cart Tam Thomson: fruit and veg
Walkers' stores: groceries, butchermeat, bakery goods  Sanny Smith from Tarrareoch Farm: milk soor dook Colquhoun:  newsagents Aitken pony and trap used as a taxi service to Armadale station
Melville Scott: draper Halls and the pawn shop  Fairgrieve; Mathiesons#: shoes

#My thanks to Suni Matheson for pointing out that his grandfather's name should appear without an 'i'

Russells and Marshalls: fruiterers


The Pale House (of Armadale's first Friendly Society), (west side) North Street, supplied the funeral hearse
Mrs Dodds's sweet shop, at the top of North Street - golden charm sweeties!
Star Inn > Star Hotel (east side) built for Mrs Ann Young in 1861 (2 East Main Street)

1862: James Verrier built on the north-west corner of the Cross his Inn opposite the Star Inn

Matthew Donaldson and John Finlay, licensed grocers

People's Drapery Warehouse, a two-storey building on the corner of West Main Street and North Street, directly opposite The Crown Hotel, was run by Elizabeth Kerr early 1900s

Armadale Inn, named in honour of Lord Armadale. > The Old Inn > The Regal Bar (north side)

Daniel and Agnes Archers' newsagent's shop, (north side) West Main Street, started c1870 - late 1970s (when sold to RS McColl who soon moved next door into the former premises of the Co-op's bakery and drapery departments);  later Archer shops also in St Helen's Place, Bathville Cross and in Whitburn.  The 3 Armadale shops became known as 'bottom', 'middle' and 'top' shops.  Business later run by Archers' children John and Mary.

Co-op (north side): Raymie Fagan,  the Co-op baker's van

Steelyard in Armadale: the yard on the ?north side of West Main Street, immediately to the west of the fish and chip shop

Until 1950: Peter (Pasquale) Borza's ice cream caf,  (north side) West Main Street, formerly Mr Forte's cafe.  Not just ice cream but popular boiled peas with vinegar during the winter (for 2 old pennies)

1969 onwards: Nicandro and Concetta Coia sold drinks such as milkshakes, tea and coffee as well as their own ice cream.  Their sons, James and Giorgio eventually succeeded them in the business.

James Alexander Bryden's drapery shop, West Main Street, later a milliner and dressmaking business run by George Farquhar and family

Early 1900s: Alex Hutton & Son's ironmongery

Early 1900s: William Duncan's tailoring and clothing shop

1810: Thomas Rankin, blacksmith, next to Russell's joinery, West Main Street

John Russell secured permission in 1795 for the first building to be erected (south side), a single-storey house and workshop. 1870 it was increased by one storey.  1906 the building became the Police Station.

Early 1900s, south side: Nathaniel Benassi's caf next to Crown Hotel

                       Alex Graham's grocery shop

                       Alex Hutton's ironmonger / workshop
                       Alex Mathieson, shoemaker
                       23 - 25 West Main Street: Dr John Anderson's chemist shop

                       25 - 27 West Main Street: J M Dickson's chemist shop, part of which (a shop in itself) also sold photographic equipment and offered a film processing service.  Closed mid 20C and reopened by Victor Alongi as a fish and chip shop + caf.  Eventually Nicandro and Concetta Coia took it over and were succeeded by their son Piero Coia.



South-east corner of the Cross built on by John Wilson; Matthew and John Wilson, and afterwards Matthew Wilson's licensed grocery business

c1900 east side: Brown Bros licensed grocery and tea merchants (site and adjoining plots demolished 1930 for Regal Cinema construction.  After closure of Regal in 1972, and its eventual demolition, a building was created now occupied by WL Council Information Service) see East Main Street

             Ezzi's caf and fish restaurant, established by Vincenzo Ezzi; 1930 taken over by son Alfred Ezzi

             Robert Brown's barber's shop

             David Marr's plumber's shop

Bee-Hive Drapery Store, South Street, run by David Finlay, then George Farquhar and family.  Of their 3 shops, this was the only shop run by a Farquhar in 1929 (Mrs Farquhar), 1933 taken over Mrs Agnes Friel

Wylie the butcher, South Street

Mrs A Marr's Newsagents (Bookseller and Stationer), (west side) South Street demolished 1970s/early 80s with East Church and Hall to accommodate the Bield's Ochilview Court development.

Dickson; Glendale: chemist (east side)

John Aitken's licensed grocery businesses built post 1860s, top of (west side) South Street, (now St Helen's Place)

Archibald Gall's licensed grocery businesses built post 1860s

Anthony's Cycle Shop was situated at 115 South Street, on the east side, at the corner of Mayfield Drive just two doors down from the Windsor Hall.

Early 1900s: David Young's grocery shop, (east side) South Street

Danny Birrell; Alex Dobbins: grocer on South Street



Giocondo Ugolini moved from Italy to Armadale in the 1920s/30s and ran his fish & chip shop at 12 East Main Street until the 1950s. From then it was run by his son, Romeo, (called Romel by everyone).  He retired with his wife Ella to Linlithgow some years ago. They used to live above the shop. This is now a Chinese takeaway. 'Mel's brother 'Lando (?Rolando) played in goal for Celtic and Middlesbrough.

Giocondo's original chippy was on the site of the present (closed) chippy. He built an extension and this is where the Oriental Star now is. This then became the main chippy and the sit-in was extended into where the original chippy was. The extension was the first project managed by a young, apprentice builder by the name of Davie Kerr. The building was sold by Romel to Big Jim who did reopen the chippy at one time.

Post 1860s: J. Wilson, M. Donaldson, and James Wylie, licensed grocers

Post 1860s: Hugh M'Kinnon and Henry Halbert, licensed grocers with porter and ale licences

c1918 (south side): Jacob Stirling & Co licensed grocery and tea merchants, on corner see South Street



Hosiery factory, Brown Street


Mr Forrest, blacksmith who was in the old St Paul's Church building that was at the top of Church Place/Marches.  Many recall the warmth of the furnace and the sight of Mr. Forrest shoeing horses!

Global DVD, East Main Street, Armadale. Premises then occupied by Scotmid Funeral Service, now closed


Three In One Take Away, 7 West Main Street, Armadale, EH48 3PZ. Premises now occupied by Yosh Kebab
Viviani's 7 North Street, Armadale, EH48 3QB. Premises then occupied by Taj Mahal, now by Gordons chemists
Heather Shields Dental Surgery formerly at 3 West Main Street, Armadale, EH48 3PZ

now known as Smiles Plus at 51B South Street, Armadale, EH48 3ET (back of Masonic Lodge building)

Alex Forsyth Ltd, joiner, building contractor, DIY, at 26 South Street, Armadale, EH48 3ES. Premises now occupied by Lochside Tackle & Sports, which relocated from 22 South Street
Terra Mia, Fast Food, at 170 South Street
Hendersons Estate Agents  at 43 West Main Street. Premises then occupied by  LA TATTOO ebfore closure

Craft Cuts, Hair and Beauty treatments for men and women at 11 St Helen's Place

Tan & Tone at 2 Ochil View Square, Armadale. Premises then occupied by Craft Cuts before closure

Supersave Armadale, Household and fancy goods, 31 West Main Street


Baby Madness, children's  and babies' clothing and equipment, at 12 St Helens Place, now closed
The Dale Food Studio, 5 North Street, Armadale, EH48 3QB
All For Pets at The Grapevine,
65 West Main Street, Armadale.
Premises now occupied by  Tastebuds Cafe

Colquhoun Postcard = Originally published by Geo. F. Colquhon*, The Cross, Armadale. *Colquhoun

The publisher trained as a barber, but, after losing a leg during the First World War, he opened a newsagent's and tobacconist's shop in East Main Street, Armadale.  He called it the wee shop with the big stock.  His speciality was a pipe tobacco, which he made up, called The Dale Smoking Mixture

He hired a professional photographer to photograph his shop.  He can be seen in some cards where he appears riding his motor cycle and side car, accompanied by his collie dog who was his constant companion.

Our old Armadale postcards are HERE

Colquhoun Postcard

Colquhoun Postcard