Bathgate’s History at the Bennie Museum
Visitors to Bathgate in West Lothian will find loads of interesting information on the history of the town at the Bennie Museum, situated in two restored cottages on Mansefield Street. The origins of the town date back to the early 12th century, although the land on which Bathgate is situated, as well as the surrounding area, is thought to have been occupied as far back as 3500 BC. The Bennie Museum has some relics related to the area’s ancient history, including some Roman coins, but most of the items on display relate to the past two or three hundred years of Bathgate’s history and the industries that came and went over the years.
Displays include a stately grandfather clock made by a local clockmaker, an old petrol pump, glass bottles manufactured in the Bathgate Glass Factory (1866-1887), uniforms, medals, trophies, kitchen equipment, a fireplace complete with cooking utensils, a steam pump, a piano, an old foot-driven sewing machine, a classic large-wheeled baby’s buggy, wall clocks, photographs, documents and more.
The fact that the museum exists at all is thanks to the Bennie family (hence the name) who gifted the cottages to house the museum. The Bathgate Community council, supported by local individuals, organisations and businesses worked for nine years to restore the cottage and collect and display its contents. Managed by a Charitable Trust and run entirely by volunteers, the Bennie Museum opened to the public on 20 May 1989.
In addition to the Bennie Museum, Bathgate has a number of attractions, including The Steelyard, Bathgate High Church, ancient Map Stones, and the Old Bathgate Parish Church. In 1315 the daughter of Robert the Bruce, Marjorie, married the 6th Lord High Steward of Scotland, Walter Stewart. The castle of Bathgate and extensive surrounding land formed part of her dowry. It was from this union that the Stewart clan emerged and ruled Scotland until 1689. Little remains of the castle, but its owners of days gone by remain etched in Scotland’s history. The town hosts the annual West Lothian Highland Games at Meadow Park – a traditional event well worth attending.