West Lothian Courier | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week we have added 96,352 new pages to The Archive. We are delighted to welcome two brand new titles to The Archive – the West Lothian Courier and the Irvine Times – as our Scottish holdings continue to grow.

Our updated titles this week also have a Scottish flavour. We have extensive additions to our specialist Scottish farming title (which deals with agriculture, horticulture, gardening, forestry, rural economy and much more besides) the North British Agriculturalist, whilst we continue to add pages to our recent publications, which include the Irvine Herald, the Wishaw Press and the Montrose Standard. We have also added the year 1995 to the Aberdeen Press and Journal and to the Aberdeen Evening Express.

One of our new titles this week is the West Lothian Courier. Published in Bathgate, this is a weekly publication for which we have published the years 1892 to 1976, and we plan to add editions from 1873. The mid-Victorian era was a fascinating time of change for Bathgate; once a small rural farming community, the advent of the railway saw it become a key point of distribution for materials to Edinburgh and Glasgow, whilst in 1852 it became home to the world’s first commercial oil works, manufacturing paraffin oil and wax.

West Lothian Courier | 10 January 1930

Our other new title this week is the Irvine Times, another local Scottish weekly. The Irvine Times covers the local news from North Ayrshire, and is still running today. The town of Irvine is an ancient settlement, and was a favourite haunt of none other than poet Robert Burns.

Not only was Bathgate an important centre of chemical manufacturing, it was also home to a famous, albeit now closed, whisky distillery. Through the pages of the West Lothian Courier, it is possible to trace the fortunes of the distillery, from its giddy heights in the late Victorian era when it produced 80,000 gallons of single malt a year, to its closure in 1910 and finally the hopes of it being reopened in the 1950s.

A nineteenth century whisky distillery | Illustrated London News | 30 August 1890

An article in October 1899 reports:

This week there was despatched a case of Glenmavis whisky to the King of Belgium. The case was sent by command of His Royal Highness through the recommendation of his medical attendant, who said that it was one of the purest whiskies made. This unsolicited testimonial to the good properties of “The Glen” brand will be undoubtedly much appreciated by Mr John Mcnab, the genial manufacturer of the same.

West Lothian Courier | 14 October 1899

Despite this popularity amongst European royalty and the Belgian medical profession, the genial manufacturer of ‘Mcnab’s Celebrated Glenmavis Dew’ was forced to close the Bathgate distillery in 1910. And over forty years later, the distillery buildings lay in ruins, condemned and unusable. However, in 1956 millionaire financier Mr A V Hobbs planned to reopen the historic distillery and invest £300,000 in its re-equipment.

West Lothian Courier | 23 December 1904

An article in a May 1956 edition of the West Lothian Courier describes the pitiful state of the old brewery and its surrounds. Its water source was Mcnab’s Pond, a local Bathgate landmark, set high up in the glen. But it had become clogged with nearly fifty years’ worth of leaves, and like the ruined buildings, presented a challenge to the enterprising Mr Hobbs. However, the Courier ‘makes bold to prophesy that within the year Glenmavis House will be one of the show places of the district.’

However, the Town Council and the Forth River Purification Board had other ideas. According to the Courier, ‘Councillor Baird did not think that the distillery would be an asset at all. It might in fact become a nuisance on account of smell and give rise to many complaints from Council tenants in the Glenmavis area.’

Despite the potential for the creation of at least one hundred jobs, it was the Forth River Purification Board’s decision in November 1956 not to allow the re-opening of the Glenmavis Distillery. Their main concern was to prevent further pollution of the River Avon, which in turn would impact the River Forth. Effluence from the distillery would contain acid that would remove oxygen from the water, and that would be ‘deadly for fish.’

So, Bathgate ‘lost a new industry, or at least a revival of an old one.’ However, the history of the industry is not lost, thanks to the pages of the British Newspaper Archive.

New Titles
Years Added
West Lothian Courier 1892-1968, 1975-1976
Irvine Times 1892

This week we have updated six of our existing titles.

You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation

Years Added
Aberdeen Press and Journal 1995
North British Agriculturist 1871-1893
Irvine Herald 1968
Wishaw Press 1980
Montrose Standard 1958-1959
Aberdeen Evening Express 1995

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You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.



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