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Full Bo'ness and District Timeline

80 AD            Agricola invades Scotland and erects a line of forts between Clyde and Forth.

142                   Antonine Wall (or the Wall of Lollius Urbicus) connected the forts built between the Clyde and the Forth. It is thought that number 24 was at Inveravon, 25 at Kinneil and 26 at Carriden. About 60 kilometres in length it was garrisoned by approximately 30,000 men. Hadrian's Wall had 83 soldiers per kilometres and it had 12,000 men man the wall with a further 8,000 in forward Forts and in reserve. It is thought that Antonine Wall had 300 men every Kilometre thus there would have been about 20,000 manning the Wall at any given time. To man Forward garrisons and also have soldiers in reserve a figure of 30,000 is reasonable, but some estimate that it may have been 50,000. The Known forts along Antonine Wall are: 1 Bishopton, 2 Old Kilpatrick, 3 Dutocher, 4 Cleddans (fortlet), 5 Castilehill, 6 Bearsden, 7 Summerston, 8 Balmuidy, 9 Wilderness Plantation (fortlet), 10 Cadder, 11 Glasgow Bridge (fortlet), 12 Bar Hill, 15 Croy Hill, 16 Westerwood, 17 Castecary, 18 Seabags (fortlet), 19 Rough Castle, 20 Watling Lodge, 21 Camlon, 22 Falkirk, 23 Mumrills, 24 Inveravon, 25 Kinneil (fortlet), 26 Carriden.
Because the style of Antonine Wall was not as structured as that of Hadrian's Wall, it was not made of stone and was only in existence for a relatively short period of time there is very little known about it by comparison. As a result there could have been more forts north and south of it that have not been detected. It is also now thought that it may have extended to at least Blackness and possibly Cramond where there is evidence of a Roman Fort.

161                 Antonine Wall abandoned. It had been temporarily abandoned and the forts destroyed in 154-5 AD, but was quickly rebuilt and occupied until it was finally abandoned.

6th Century    St. Serf reached the south shore of the Forth (where Bo'ness is now) and on seeing a sunbeam light up the Ochil Hills on the opposite side took this as a good omen and founded Culross Abbey on the north bank of the Forth.  Another version is that St. Serf, standing at Kinneil, threw his staff over the Forth. It landed in Culross and blossomed and as a result the Saint founded an Abbey.

8th Century    Kinneil Estate.The Venerable Bede mentions Kinneil in the 8th Century; "called in the Pictish language Peanfahel but in the English tongue Pennulton".

12th Century  Salt production.The first royal charter for the manufacture of salt was given by King David I and salt was produced at Grangepans until 1889-90. It took 100 tons of water and 50 tons of coal to produce 3 tons of salt: in later years rock salt was added, imported from Liverpool and Carrickfergus, to improve the yield.

12th Century  Coal.Monks of Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, were granted a tithe by William Di Vipont to dig coal from his Carriden estate, which was then carried to Holyrood in panniers strapped to the backs of their horses; later it was taken to Leith by sailing ship. In 1291 monks from Dunfermline Abbey were also given the right to dig coal from outcrops around Bo'ness.

12th Century  Kinneil Church.It is believed that theKinneil Church with its double belfrywas built about the middle of the 12th Century, in the reign of Malcolm IV, King of Scots (1153-65), probably by Herbertus, Chamberlain to the King. Herbertus granted "the Church of Kinneil with all its dues and tithes, lands, wood and plain, pasture and meadow" to Holyrood Abbey in 1158.

At this time there was a substantial village to the south of the church. It continued in use as a Parish Church until 1669 when a new Parish church at Corbiehall was built. Even so the Kinneil Church was used as a Hamilton family church until it was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1745 by a troop of Dragons stationed at Kinneil House

1243               Carriden Church, believed to have been founded by St Ninian, was built in 1243. The ruins and adjacent graveyard are located immediately south west of Carriden House. The name Carriden may have derived from Caer meaning fort and Edin or Edwin thus giving Edwin's Fort.

1314               Battle of Kinneil Muir. Sir Gilbert Hamilton, Royal Bodyguard to Robert the Bruce, is recorded as having slain the "Great General of England" at Kinneil Muir. For this he was presented the Barony of Kinneil. This version conflicts slightly with the recorded version that Gilbert's son Walter was gifted Kinneil Estate by King Robert.

1323               Kinneil Estate.It is recorded that, in 1323, Walter Hamilton, the son of Sir Gilbert Hamilton, was gifted Kinneil Estate by Robert the Bruce, and although Hamilton House was the family's main seat, their house at Kinneil became an important residence, conveniently located for Edinburgh and the Royal Court. Walter fought on the side of the English at Bannockburn, but changed allegiance after the capture of Bothwell Castle, for which he was in charge of the defence, by King Roberts's soldiers.

Robert later knighted him. Described by Sir Robert Sibbald as "This Palace of Kinneil", the Hamilton family (particularly Anna, Duches of Hamilton) constructed the existing building during the 16th and 17th centuries. Prior to which it was a simple Keep which forms the older part of the house to the north. The Hamilton's probably had a residence on the site as far back as the 14th century. The house was later leased to various tenants, including John Roebuck, who was a partner in the Carron Company, and the philosopher Dugald Stewart, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University. Dugald's family were the last residents to occupy Kinneil House in 1846.

1329               Sir Gilbert Hamilton gives the funeral oration at the burial of King Robert the Bruce at Dunfermline Abbey.

14th Century  Blackness Castlewas one of Scotland's most important strongholds. Probably built in the 14th century by the De Vipont family and strengthened in the 16th century as an artillery fortress. Blackness was the port of Linlithgow and a key player in mediaeval Scotland's trade with the Baltic. The castle is shaped like a ship and juts out into the Forth to hold commanding views along the coastline. Rebuilt in the 15th century (it was possibly destroyed in 1481, but was quickly rebuilt and used as a State prison in 1489), it has undergone many alterations over the last 500 years. The castle was used as a set for the film 'Hamlet' starring Mel Gibson and directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

1435               Coal and the Pope!Aeneas Sylvius, the future Pope Pius II, visited the area and wrote in his journal "the poor, who almost in a state of nakedness begged at the church door, depart with joy in their faces on receiving stones as alms!" This account reveals that although coal was commonly used as fuel in Scotland it was yet unknown in many parts of Europe. This is reinforced as in another account of his visit to Scotland the future Pope wrote, "A sulphurous stone dug from the earth is used by the people as fuel." Although Aeneas rode through the Lothian's it is not clear that he visited Carriden, although as an area mined by monks it is entirely possible.

1454               Inveravon Castle, owned by the Douglas family it was besieged by James II in 1454 during the destruction of the Black Douglas family. Very little remains except the vaulted basement of a tower. The tower has wrongly been identified as part of Antonine Wall, which run close by.

1490               Sir David Falconer. Although the author of "Robinson Crusoe", Daniel Defoe, praised Bo'ness seamen when he visited the town in the 18th Century the first recorded account relating to Bo'ness seamanship may be seen in the commendation given to Sir David Falconer, described as a "brave cavalier and skilful mariner of Borrowstounesss". Sir David, second in command to Sir Andrew Wood of Largo, routed the English fleet, under the command of Sir Stephen Bull, in a fierce battle which took place in the River Forth, on the 10th August, 1490.

15th Century  Carriden House is a much altered 16th Century tower house of five storeys to which a modern mansion has been added, with vaulted basement. The lands were owned by the Cockburn family from 1358 until 1541 when the were passed to the Abercombies; sold to Sir John Hamilton of Lettrick in 1601, who was made lord Bargany. He built most of the remaining house. It was sold to the Setons, and then passed through many families, including the Cornwall's of Bonhard, to the Hopes. Now used as a Guest House/Hotel.

16th Century  Salt Production.During the 16th and 17th Centuries both sides of the Forth were dotted with salt pans the product of which was mainly for export to the extent that on the 13th October 1573 the lieges complained to the Council, which prohibited the export of salt for three years. The panmasters complained that they could not live without the export trade and an agreement was made that they should supply the natives with what salt they required at an agreed price of 8s. the boll. At this time local pans included: Kinneil pans (or the Duke's pans), situated in the vicinity of  Corbiehall Graveyard, where the slaughter-house stood in the early part of the 20th century; Grange pans, which were the pans connected with Grange Estate; Bonhard pans, connected with the Bonhard Estate, but situated on Carriden shore; Caris pans, which eventually became the pans of Carriden Estate situated a few hundred yards to the east of Burnfoot. The last pans operated till 1889-90, owned by the Cadell family.

1565              Bo'ness. First recorded reference to Bo'ness on 19th October 1565. "On this date the council appointed Patrick Cruming of Carriden "keeper of the haven of Borrowistouness, and all the bounds betwixt the same and Blakness for watching the passage of any of the enemies of their Majesties" He was also designed as "Patrick Crumbie in Carriden, First Janitor to the then Queen's Majesty." "  It is said that in 1600 Bo'ness had only one inhabited house, but by 1691 it had replaced the village of Kinneil.
Note: Sir David Falconer, was described as a "brave cavalier and skilful mariner of Borrowstounesss" on the 10th August 1490.  This therefore is conflicting evidence for the existence of Borrowstounness before 1565.

601               Bo'ness Port.Bo'ness was officially recognised as a port, although it had been recognised as such since at least 1565.

1602               Bo'ness Port.The Scottish Privy Council closed the port of Bo'ness because of the enormous amount of smuggling that was tacking place. It was reopened a few years later.

1606               Thirling of miners and salters. A law was passed in 1606, which effectively tied colliers and salters to their overlords. Naturally this greatly effected the Bo'ness workforce.

1612               The Binns probably incorporating part of a 15th Century Castle. It is now a fortified Mansion House built between 1612 and 1630 by Thomas Dalyell (1572-1642), an Edinburgh butter merchant. He purchased the land from Sir William Livingston of Kilsyth for 38,000 merks. It was greatly extended by General Dalyell (b.1615 d.1685) in the 17th Century: by whose ghost it is rumoured to be haunted. Peacocks parade on the lawn and like the apes of Gibraltar the legend states that while peacocks are at The Binns it will remain in the Dalyell family. Currently occupied by Sir Tam Dalyell Baronet (Bt NS 1685) MP.

1615               General Tam Dalyell (b.1615 d.1685) was born to Thomas Dalyell and his wife Janet Bruce. Known to the Covenanters as "Bloody Tam, the Muscovy Brute" he was affectionately called "Old Tom of Muscovy" by King Charles II.

1634             Sea Box Society was founded. Bo'ness skippers used to put one-tenth of their profits from every successful voyage into an iron-bound sea chest "for benevolent purposes, and for mutual help in times of need".

1634-38       The Church of Borrowstounness was built at Corbiehall between 1636 and 1638 although it was in 1634 that the idea was first proposed because of the rapid growth of the seaport. The Minister of Kinneil first served it. About 1636 the movement to erect the church began in earnest when about 160 contributors amassed a sum of £160 sterling. The town's sailors had a contribution box, which they and visitors to the town used for contributions, which came to about £70 of the £230 total collected. The church, the pulpit of which came from Holland, seems to have been completed in 1638 when the sailors put up a loft for themselves at a cost of £16 sterling and laid the passages for the church floor with pavement, which cost £3 10 shillings sterling. An act was obtained from the Scots Parliament in 1649 disjoining the parish of Bo'ness from Kinneil in order to allow the inhabitants power to assess themselves and raise the £44 8s 11d required for a ministers stipend (salary). This act was later declared "illegal and wanting lawful authority" since it was done in the absence of James Duke of Hamilton who was imprisoned in England at the time. In 1669 William and Anna Duke and Duchess of Hamilton obtained an act of Parliament declaring the new church to be the "Kirk of the Barony of Kinneil and Borrowstounness", which became known as the Parish of Bo'ness. A large aisle was added to the church, which was built only man-high, in 1672 by the Duke of Hamilton for himself and his tenants. The aisle was taken down and the church was almost rebuilt in 1776 in an oblong figure measuring 69 feet by 48 feet. The church served the needs of the Parish until 1887 when the Old Kirk was built. The Kinneil and Borrowstounness Church was sold to the Episcopal Church of Scotland. It was later converted into the "Star" Cinema when the Scottish Episcopal Church moved to Cadzow Crecent to occupy what is now St Catherine's Church c. 1919. The first owners name was Mr Torrence who married a Miss Duncan from Muirhouses. Unlike many other cinemas of the day  it was purpose built, having no stage, and therefore was not used for other theatricals. The Star closed as a Picture House in the late 1960's early 1970's, but like the Hippodrome was used for several years as a Bingo Theatre.

1638               National Covenant signed in Grayfriars Church and Churchyard, Edinburgh on 1st march 1638 (the Solemn League and Covenant was signed in 1642). As one of Scotland most prosperous seaports this had a great impact on Bo'ness. Holland was the favourite destination for Covenanters fleeing Britain and as a result many were transported back and forth through Bo'ness. Also because there was a strict censorship much of the Presbyterians had literature printed in Dutch cities and smuggled back to Scotland through Bo'ness.

1641               Thirling of miners, salters and other essential workers. The Act of 1601 was further extended in 1641 to include other essential workers.

1645             Bo'ness became plague-infected, to the extent that the Scottish Parliament appointed a Special Committee to prevent its spread. The town was effectively quarantined when gallows were constructed at the East and West ports of Linlithgow in order to hang any Bo'nessian's which tried to leave.

1647               Tolbooth. This is the probable date for the building of the original Bo'ness Tolbooth.

1648                Witchcraft. The Carriden Witches. During 1648 a Commission of Gentlemen from the Parish of Carriden found six women guilty of witchcraft, all were found guilty and duly executed.

1650               Although greatly altered in the first quarter of the 18th Century Dymock's Building, North Street, was occupied by a merchant's house before 1650. For safety reasons the height of part of the yard's north wall has been reduced, but prior to this a flattened arch framed the yard with the keystone inscribed RG 1717 IO. This represented Robert Gregorie, merchant and his wife Janet Osburn to whom the house was transferred in 1714.

1651             General Lilbourne, one of Oliver Cromwell's commanders, requisitions Kinneil House as his headquarters. His young wife Lady Libourne commits suicide by throwing herself out of an attic window into the Gil burn almost 200 feet below. Lady Libourne is said to still haunt the surrounding area.

1661               The population of the Parish of Kinneil was 559.

1668             Bo'ness becomes a Burgh of Regality on 8th January.  Prince William Duke of Hamiltoune in October 1661 tried to get Bo'ness accepted as a Burgh Royal, but this was strongly opposed by Linlithgow Council. The first meeting of the Regality took place in Bo'ness Tolbooth in  April 1669. This may have been the same site as the new Tolbooth built in 1750, and what is now 13 South Street..

c. 1668           First Bo'ness Fairs? Duchess Ann, Duchess of Hamilton, was given permission by the Scottish Parliament to hold four fairs per annum in the town. Duchess Ann was later given permission by Parliament to change the date of the fourth fair from 18th November to the second Tuesday in July. It is interesting that the "Riding of the Marches", which took its charter from Robert II in 1389, was held on Pasche Tuesday in April until 1625, when due to possible inclement weather it changed to the first Tuesday after the second Thursday in June. Since these early fairs were places where local farm labourers would come to seek employment the earlier date, approximately a month after the "Marches", would seem a much more suitable time.

1679               Witchcraft. The Bo'ness Witches. On Tuesday the 23rd December 1679 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. John Craw, Annable Thomsone, Margaret Hamilton, Margaret Pringle, Bessie Vicar and another Margaret Hamilton were taken from the Tollbooth in South Street to the flat glebe land at the west end of Corbiehall wirried at the steak till dead and thereafter have their bodies burnt.

1680               The Bo'ness Martyrs (or Covenanters) who were victims of the religious persecutions included: Archibald Stewart who was tortured and hung at the cross of Edinburgh on 1st December 1680, General Dalyell and The Duke of York - both arch persecutors of the Covenanters- were present at most of these examinations by torture; Marion Harvie hanged at the Grassmarket, Edinburgh on 26th January 1681; William Gougar was executed in Edinburgh on 11th March 1681; William Cuthill, a Bo'ness seaman,was hanged and beheaded at the Grassmarket on 27th July 1681, his head was fixed upon the West port. No memorial has ever been erected to these four Scottish Covenanters from Bo'ness.

1685            Sir Tam Dalyell, the son of General Dalyell, was the 1st Baronet of the Binns after the baronecy was granted to him by James II. Charles II had intended on granting a baronetcy to General Dalyell, but both men died before it was granted.

1704               Witchcraft.In 1704 Anna Wood was accused by Robert Nimmo to have been one of a group of six witches that chased him when he was walking home from Linlithgow to Carriden shore. He could however only identify Anna Wood and claimed to have witnessed her changing from a cat to human form and from a bird to human form. Anna was found guilty by Carriden Kirk Session, but fearing for her life fled before hearing the verdict, and was never seen in Bo'ness again: at least not in human form!

1707               Bo'ness Harbour. The construction of the first harbour at Bo'ness was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1707. Until now ships could only load and unload using a long causeway, accessible only at low tide and in calm weather. However, until 1733, this amounted to a simple pier on the west side of the anchorage.

1707            The Custom House moved from Blackness to Bo'ness on 26th December due to the influence of the Hamilton's.

1711               This is the probable date for the construction of what is now part of Bo'ness Library, and previously the West Pier Tavern as can be seen on a lintel over the first floor doorway inscribed 17 FMG MR 11. Although this is a "marriage-stone" with the initials standing for the couple who occupied the house the date is of the construction of the building.

1718            Dr John Roebuck was born (b. 1718 d. 1794). Despite having a proven ability at school he could not go to Oxford or Cambridge, as he was not a member of the Church of England. He therefore studied medicine at Edinburgh before completing his studies at Leyden in Holland.

1726              Defoe (the author of "Robinson Crusoe" 1719)  writes in his "Tour Through Great Britain" (1724-26)  "It has been, and still is, a town of the greatest trade to Holland and France of any in Scotland, except Leith."

1733               Bo'ness Harbour. In 1733 the East Pier, some 368 feet long was added to Bo'ness Harbour.

1744               Beer Tax and Bo'ness Harbour. The shipowners and merchants of Bo'ness were worried about the condition of Bo'ness Harbour, the quays were in a poor state and the harbour was silting up. Ships already paid 11/2d per ton for anchorage, but this proved to insufficient funding for the purpose. After due deliberation they decided to tax Bo'ness beer at the rate of 2d Scots per pint (£1 Scots was 20 pennies compared to 240 pennies in £1 Sterling). An Act of Parliament was past and trustees appointed, but needless to say there was great opposition from the brewers and ale house keepers. Ironically it was through the harbour for which the beer tax was imposed that most of the illicit beer was to be smuggled into Bo'ness.

1750's          Shipbuilding.From the mid eighteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century shipbuilding was a major industry in Bo'ness. At the end of the 18th century there were two builders worthy of note: Robert Hart and Thomas Boag who each built vessels from 300 to 350 tons. The Greys from Kincardine came later and the last builder worthy of a mention was Meldrum who built a ship called the "Isabella" and another called the "Ebenezer". Shipping belonging to the town at this time consisted of 25 sail, 17 of them were brigantines of 70 to 170 tons per register, 8 were sloops from 20 to 70 tons per register. Six of the brigantines ranging in size from 147 to 167 tons were contracted to sail to and from London every 14 days. The other 11 brigantines and 1 sloop were mainly involved in Baltic trade, with the remaining 7 sloops involved in canal and coastal trade. The shipping employed a total of approximately 170 men and boys.

1750               New Tolbooth.The new town Tolbooth was built at 13 South Street. On the east gable wall there is a re-used lintel stone dated 1647 which may have been from the original Tolbooth.

1750               Bridgness Tower. What is now Bridgness Tower was originally built as a windmill for milling grain, but for some time it was thought that the Cadells used it to pump water from their mines which ran under the Forth. This however is now in thought to be erroneous. It wasn't used for this purpose for long as the Cadells invested in more efficient steam power. Mr Robert Hughes purchased it in the early 19th Century and changed it into an observatory. Records show that there had been a windmill on the site as far back as 1636.

1751               Whaling. Six whalers, with an approximate capacity of 330 tons set sail from Scotland and by 1756 this had increased to sixteen. In 1970 the government offered a bounty of £2 per ton, based on the ships capacity, to encourage the industry. This meant even if there was no catch a ship with a capacity of 330 tons would receive a bounty of £660. Bo'ness whaling records however do not extend this far back, although Bo'ness was a whaling port at the time The largest cargo of blubber ever landed in Scotland was landed at Peterhead by the "Resolution" which caught 44 whales in 1814. The oil yield was valued at £10,000 with a further £1,000 for the bones which was used for furniture, waist pinching stays and pandybats. Pandybats were long leather-covered cane like instruments which Irish schoolmasters used as canes. Alas the success of the 1860's large catches all but destroyed the whale population, and by the 1890's despite steam powered ships now being more efficient (faster, increased range and able to go into more dangerous waters), the Arctic whaling industry died. The River Tay, owned by Gilroy Brothers & Co. of Dundee, but built at Kinghorn, was the first iron-hulled, steam powered whaling ship built in 1868 for Arctic trade. Weighing 608 tons she was 145ft long with a 30ft beam and a draught of 18½ft, she had 6 separate watertight compartments and a reinforced hull to withstand the pressures of the ice flows. Although her first season was good due to her increased range and speed she was able to make two Arctic voyages in the one season, but alas over hunting made Arctic trade uneconomic.

In 1893 it was therefore decided to send 3 ships to the Antarctic. This industry continued to the outbreak of the First World War, but was never as profitable due to the distances involved. Between 1750 and 1780 Bo'ness ranked as the third port in Scotland.

1759           Cadell Family. William Cadell (1708-1777) first moved to Bo'ness from Cockenzie, East Lothian, in 1759. Mr Caddell was a member of a merchant family whose main business was the import of iron from Russia and Sweden. It was therefore in a venture to mine and smelt ironstone, and not, as often thought, primarily coal, that Caddell approached Dr Roebuck. The Seven Year's War meant a high demand for weapons made from iron, but it also disrupted the iron Baltic trade, thus the idea of Carron Iron Works was born.

1759           Carron Company established as: Roebuck, Garbett & Cadells. Dr Roebuck and Mr William Cadell agreed to locally mine and smelt iron ore. The location was decided because of its proximity to wood (charcoal), water for power, iron ore, coal and water for transportation. What is not so well known is that the first choice for the sighting of the iron works was not Stenhousemuir, but a site near Jinkabout Mill. This choice was abandoned because a lease was only available for 99 years.

1759/60      First Masonic Lodge.The "Pythogoric" Lodge, which stood as No. 90 on the roll of the Grand Lodge had its first minuted meeting dated 27th December 1768 and the last recorded minute was dated 21st December 1789. It is probable that the Lodge was founded in 1759 as one surviving page form the minute book states "that from and after the 17th of July 1760 every Brother upon being made a Royal Arch mason in the Pythagoric Lodge shall pay dues thereto - five shillings."  The "Ancient Brazen" Lodge of Linlithgow dates back to 2nd March 1654. By 1768 it owned its own Temple, however by the 1780's attendance's had fallen from about 20 to 10 with the last initiation taking place on Christmas day 1787. The Lodge was declared dormant by the Grand Lodge in 1799 and erased from the roll in 1809. The Douglas Lodge (409) has copies of these early Masonic minutes. Charles Addison, Dr J Short, Dr John Roebuck and his brother Benjamin were all Brothers.

1760            New Year's Day saw the opening of Carron Company Iron Works, by Dr Roebuck

1762               The Anti-Burghers first meet in a barn at Little Carriden in September 1762. Two years later they were to move to a property acquired from the Sea Box at East Bog which they named Easter Meeting-house. The yard on the north side was used as a graveyard.

1765            Dr Black first introduced James Watt (b.1736, d. 1819) to Dr Roebuck. This period was to almost bankrupt Dr Roebuck and Watt was unfortunately forced to Birmingham to perfect his steam engine with the firm Boulton, Watt & Co. Although he was declared bankrupt in 1773 Roebuck did manage to survive his financial embarrassment founding Scotland's first large commercial pottery at Bo'ness in 1787 under his son's name.  He was also responsible for the town's first fresh water supply.

1766               First Pottery.Around 1766 brown earthenware pottery from local clay began to be produced in a Pottery on the south side of Main Street.

1772               Tobacco Warehouse. Thought to have been originally built as a Tobacco Warehouse, when most of the North American tobacco was shipped to France as raw-leaf via east Coast ports, the ground floor of this four storey building in Scotland's close is now occupied by Bo'ness Library. The keystone over the arch over the doorway bears the initials I.C. and the date 1772. By 1850 the building was used as a granary and later as a bakehouse.

1774               Thirling of miners and salters. In 1774 an attempt was made to amend the law and forbid the thirling of miners and their families to the coal pits.

1775               Bridgeness Harbour. Bridgeness Pier first appears on a map in 1775 and again on an Ordinance Survey map in 1856, but by then the pier and its surroundings had substantially changed being over 500 feet long. James John Cadell built a 3 feet gauge railway to from the Meldrum Pit to the pier about 1845. The railway was dismantled about 1890 when work on Philpingstone Road began. The pier was mainly used for the export of coal and salt.

1776               The second Carriden Church was built at the foot of Carriden Brae, but the residents still wished to be interred at the previous site. By the 1840's there was a congregation of 1104 made up of 259 families with a further 22 families from the United Associate Synod.

1780's            The Borrowstounness Canal Company was formed presumably sometime in the 1780's. Work had started on the Forth Clyde Canal in 1768 which would obviously prove a threat to Bo'ness Harbour since up to 50 carts of goods would regularly leave Glasgow in the morning bound for Bo'ness. It was obvious that when the canal was opened to Sealock (Grangemouth) that this and the packhorse trade from Glasgow would cease.

The Borrowstounness Canal Company was going to build a canal link between Bo'ness Harbour and the "Great Canal"  (as the Forth & Clyde canal was called) It was initially estimated that the work would cost about £10,000, but when not half completed the cost was already £7,000 the work was abandoned. Meetings were held to raise more money, but there were objections that the money had not been well spent it was said that "some associated with the project rendered themselves richer in pocket and poorer in character by their conduct at that time."

Nevertheless the idea wasn't abandoned and it was agreed to employ Robert Whitworth of Glasgow to give a report on the whole proposal and an estimate of the cost to complete the work. Mr Whitworth was the engineer responsible for the completion of the "Great Canal". His report is dated 28th December 1789, but is outwith the scope of this Timeline. The canal was to be 54ft wide at the top, 27ft wide at the bottom and 8½ft deep to let vessels drawing 8ft to navigate it. The total cost estimated was £17,763 10s 0d. Thus the idea was abandoned.

It is interesting to note that by 1st December 1810 Grangemouth had its own Custom House with jurisdiction for Alloa, Stirling and Kincardine. In the same year the duties drawn from Bo'ness were £30,485 17s 0½d, but 5 years later they had dropped to £3,835 6s 4½d.

On the proposed route for the canal approximately 6 furlongs west of Bo'ness Harbour a castle named Castle Lyon is mentioned, this is probably the same castle as Karig Lion Castle with Grid ref. NS 994817  OS: 65. No trace of either can be seen.

1787               Robert Burns.The poet Robert Burns visited Bo'ness in July describing it as "that dirty, ugly place, Borrowstounness". Although some accounts of his visit indicate that he visited the town in August he is reported to have attended the horse racing on the foreshore, which would have taken place in the afternoon of a Friday between the 12th and 19th of July at the Miners Fair.

1787               Bo'ness Pottery.Although he was declared bankrupt in 1773 Dr Roebuck, by using his sons name, developed Bo'ness Pottery in Main Street, Bo'ness by leasing premises from the Duke of Hamilton. By 1789 it was producing cream coloured and white stoneware by importing clay from Dorset and Devon. In 1791 Dr Roebuck and 40 men, boys and girls operated 3 kilns. On his death in 1794 Roebucks son sold the property to Thomas Cowan. In 1801 it was purchased by Alex Cuming, a customs officer, for £300. He in turn gifted it to his Nephew James Cumings. It was sold to Bo'ness Potters Shaw and James Jamieson in 1827 and operated as James Jamieson, or J.J., from 1827-1854. At this time about a third of the workforce weren't local many coming from Staffordshire.

It was Jamieson's brother in law John Marshal, a wealthy corn merchant and J.P., who purchased the Pottery in 1854. The company operated from 1854-1898 as John Marshall and Company. Now also occupying ground on the north side of Main Street he built a reading room for his workers in 1858, encouraged outings and helped found the Potters Guild in 1860. On John Marshals death in 1879 his co-partner William McNay took charge until his death the following in 1880, when his brother Charles McNay and two sons John and James Managed the Pottery. In 1886 Charles McNay founded Bridgeness Pottery and left Bo'ness pottery in his sons care. They were however unsuccessful and the pottery went into liquidation in 1898.

1787               Bo'ness Harbour. The 368 feet long East Pier was extended by a further 180 feet.

1790               Forth & Clyde Canal. Although work began in 1768 under the guidance of the engineer John Smeaton it was 22 years before the Forth & Clyde Canal was completed in 1790, including the 4 mile branch in Glasgow. When the navigation from Grangemouth to Bowling on the Clyde was opened, trade flourished as ships seized this first opportunity to make their way coast-to-coast across mainland Britain, and avoid the long and hazardous route around the north coast of Scotland.

The Charlotte Dundas, the world's first practical steamboat, conducted trials on the Canal in 1802. The Vulcan, Scotland's first iron boat, was built for canal passenger service in 1818. Later, as with other canals, trade began to decline in the face of competition from the railways. Canal cruises boosted the Canal's popularity earlier this century, but the last pleasure boat - the Gypsy Queen - made her final voyage in 1939. Trade continued to decline after this until, in 1963, the Canal was closed to navigation.

1794               John Anderson Merchant and Banker (b.1794 d.14th April 1870), "the King of Bo'ness" was born at Bo'ness in 1794, the only son of John Anderson (teacher) and Jean Paterson, he had a sister Margaret who was a Cloth Merchant and Postmistress. He was probably Bo'ness's most successful businessman. Interested in education he erected the Anderson Academy. He was buried beside his father, mother and sister in the lower churchyard on the Wynd, but his trustees erected a monument to him and his aforementioned family at the entrance to the new cemetery, which was unveiled on 24th December 1904.

1794               Fishing.Quite unexpectedly the herring fishing season of 1795-5 was so good that there were hopes that herring curing would be added to the place industry.

1796               Customs House.By about 1796 Grangemouth, South and North Queensferry, St. David's, Inverkeithing, Limekilns, Torry and Culross were all attached to the Bo'ness Custom House. At this time there were 44 officers employed. Salt was still a precious commodity the Bo'ness salt duty amounting to £3,000. Salt was stored in cellars or "girnels" barred with strong doors sealed by the Revenue Officer. It was only allowed to be taken out when the duty was paid.

1796                             Craigmailen Church was built at the top of Providence Brae. It later became St Mary's Church. The United Associate Congregation, union of the Burger and Anti-Burger Congregations took place in 1820. The Burgher Meeting-house was built in 1796 at the top of Providence Brae and the Anti-Burgher Meeting-house or Easter Meeting House was on the East Bog.

1799                             First Miners Fair. A law was passed in 1606 which effectively tied colliers and salters to their overlords. This was further extended in 1641 to include other essential workers. In 1774 an attempt was made to amend the law and forbid the thirling of miners and their families to the coal pits. The Act was repealed in 1799. To celebrate the Mines Emancipation Act of 1799 miners, as free men, took a holiday to march through the town. The Act declared that, "all the colliers in that part of Great Britain called Scotland are hereby declared to be free from their servitude." 

Unfortunately those already tied were not given their freedom straight away as the legacy lingered long after in the minds of both mine and landowners. This later developed into Bo'ness Children's Fair, but at this time it was more of a drinking affair which by the late 1800's was described as a "drunken orgy".  Held on the Friday between the 12th and 19th July the march commenced at the miners rows at Borrowstoun and Newton down to Corbiehall and out to Kinneil House where the Duke's Estate Factor provided them with whisky toddy. From there it meandered through the town to the Grange where the other main colliery owner Cadell would also welcome his miners by serving whisky toddy.

Accompanied by the town bands they would proceed to the banks of the Forth where the afternoon's entertainment was provided by horse and carriage racing. If this sounds grand it should be remembered that these were working horses and not thoroughbreds. A fair ground was also set up at Corbiehall where the day's events would be rounded off before the evening dance in the Town Hall commenced. By the 1890's the public criticism of the miner's boisterous and drunken behaviour led the Newtown Miner's Fair Committee to approach the local Police Commissioners to gain their support for the Miners Fair.

Although viewed with much scepticism in 1894 the first march, which resembled a town parade, with all of its pageantry, took place. As usual it was led by the miner's Deacon, but was now followed by Banner Bearers with the town banner bearing the town coat of arms and motto "Sine Metu", closely followed by the Provost and Commissioners in open horse drawn carriages with outriders. This then was the first town procession which could be linked to today's Bo'ness Children's Fair.

Circa 1800     Distillery.Bo'ness Distillery opened in the early1800's. malt duty was over £300 per week in 1845, but had increased to £1,000,000 per annum by 1912. It was owned by Tod, Padon & Vannan then A. & R. Vannan before being purchased by James Calder in 1874. Early in the 20th century (~ 1912) the weekly output was 50 tons of yeast, 25,000 gallons of spirits, and 300 tons of grains for cattle feeding.

Circa 1800     Body Snatching.From the first quarter of this century till the 1890's there stood at the gate of the South Churchyard, at the Wynd, a small watch-house. This was used to shelter the watchmen during the raids of the "Resurrectionists" when corpses were stolen for anatomical purposes. Each householder was required to take a turn or find a substitute; for which the going rate was 1s and usually bred and porter for supper.

Early 1800's  Bridgeness Tower.Bridgeness Windmill/Tower was purchased by Mr Robert Hughes it in the early 19th Century, he changed the upper part of it into an observatory, purchasing a six-inch telescope for £1,000, on his death this was sold to Piazza Smith, the Astronomer Royal. Unable to install the telescope himself Hughs hired an English Astronomer Mr Clark to install it for him. Clark was originally to stay in the tower for 6 months, but stayed 28 years. Hughes also built the "Secret Factory" at the bottom of Links Braes where Vitriol (Sulphuric Acid) and Iodine extracted from seaweed were manufactured.

1801               Census: Bo'ness 2,790 Carriden 1,493   Total: 4,283

1803               Salt Production.On the death of Sir Henry Seton in 1803, the Collector of Taxes, Cadell took possession of his dwelling place, Grange House. Salt production was still a major industry in Grangepans, but it was said that the seawater was "too fresh" and rock salt was added to strengthen the Grange salt: previously 100 tons of water would only yield 3 tons of salt. The salt was regarded as being of the highest quality and at 11s. per half cwt people came from far and near, a ton was carted to Falkirk every week to supply the inhabitants at a cost of  £22 per cart or £1,232 per annum.

1805               Admiral Sir William Dalyell 7th Baronet NS (1784-1865)was badly wounded in 1805, having received 9 sabre wounds to his head. It is thought that C S Forester was inspired by the exploits of Sir William and modelled his fictional hero, Horatio Hornblower, on him.

1808               Admiral Sir James Hope was born at Carriden House (b.1808  d.1881). His father, who died when James was only 10, was Admiral Sir George Hope who commanded the H.M.S. Defence at the Battle of Trafalgar and was Commander-in-Chief of the British Baltic Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars. Sir George was the second son of the first Earl of Hopetoun. James joined the Navy when 15 and by 1838 had reached the rank of Captain. When retired he founded a model village at Muirhouses.

1810               On 1st December 1810Grangemouth gets its own Custom House with jurisdiction for Alloa, Stirling and Kincardine. Grangemouth probably owes its foundation because of the Forth and Clyde Canal to Sir Lawrence Dundas of Kerse, an ancestor of the Earl of Zetland, who was the districts main landowner at the time.

1812               Henry Bell.The "Comet" (one of the first practical steam powered boat), was launched on the Clyde, designed by Henry Bell (b. 1767 d. 1830) who, a native of Torphichen, learnt his trade in Bo'ness. It came to Bo'ness from the Clyde via the Forth and Clyde Canal in 1813 for an overhaul to be carried out by Henry's old employers, Shaw & Hart.

1818               The building of the Union Canal was begun on Tuesday 3 March 1818, when following a prayer, Mr Downie of Appin, president of the company, dug the first spadeful at what was to become Edinburgh's Port Hopetoun. It was closed to navigation in 1965.

1818               The New Shotts Iron Company were paid £38. 9. 4 to provide a cistern and well at the Cross, which was a significant improvement on the previous facilities.

1826               The Binns Tower. This was built by Sir James Dalyell (5th Baronet) as a wager with one of the Hope family in 1826 for £29 10s.

1831               The first outbreak of Cholera is recorded as 20th December 1831; the more severe second outbreaktook place about 20 years later. It was because of this the graveyard on the shore at Corbiehall was necessitated. Dr. Cowan noted that from the time of seizure till death took a minimum of 11 hours a maximum of 95 hours and an average of 33 hours.

1836               Sir John Graham Dalyell 6th Baronet NS (1776-1851) was knighted in 1836 for his services to science and literature. He wrote an illustrated book "The Rare and Remarkable Animals of Scotland" and is noted as having also taught Darwin.

1836               First Bo'ness Iron Foundry, Steele Miller & Company (later Bo'ness Foundry Company) was founded.

1842               Bo'ness Gas Company.Formation of the Bo'ness Gas Company, on Links Road, John Anderson was appointed Chairman.

1843               Kinneil Furnaces.With the collapse of they local canal scheme (the Forth Clyde Canal ending at Grangemouth or Sealock as it was then known) Bo'ness Harbour fell on hard times. However the return of better days when in 1843 John Wilson of Dundyvan built Kinneil Furnaces. The four furnaces sat on the high ground about a mile west of the town.

It is said that the light they produced at night lit up the dark places of the town. In these open top furnaces it was a hot-air process that was used to melt the iron, and as a result columns of flames shot high into the night sky, illuminating the Forth Valley for miles. It was for John Wilson's employees that the Snab or Kinneil Rows were built. They would include furnace workers and ironstone (iron ore) miners.

1844               Old St Andrew's Church (known as the Free Church of Scotland). On 20th August 1844 Captain James Hope of Carriden (later Admiral Sir James Hope) laid the foundation stone of this church with Masonic honours. Beneath the foundation-stone is a leaden case which contains copies of the Act of Separation and deed of Demission, protest by the ministers and elders, copies of the "Witness", the "Scottish Herald", and the Edinburgh "Weekly Register", an almanac, and a list of the office-bearers and managers of the congregation.

The church was built at the east end of the Links on the west side of the boundary line between the Parish of Bo'ness and Carriden (west side of Boundary Street) at a cost of £365 17s 2d. The first minister was Mr Alex P. Dempster.

~ 1850            Second outbreak of Cholera. It is reputed that Corbiehall Graveyard was set aside for the victims of this cholera epidemic. Although in a poor state of repair many of the gravestones, which have been laid flat, can still be read.

1850's            Whaling was taken up for the second time in Bo'ness and records show that ships included: "Success", Captain Jock Tamson; "Home Castle"; "Rattler", Captain Stoddart; "Juno", Captain Lyle; "Larkins", Captain Muirhead; "Alfred", Captain William Walker; "Jean" Captain John Walker and the officers on the "Jean" were William White, Alexander Donaldson, John McKenzie (harpooner) and John Grant. Each whaler carried a crew of 50. There were two boiling-houses in Bo'ness where the oil was extracted from the whales blubber.

The main one was on the Wynd where many of the whaling sailors were employed off-season. Whaling soon proved unprofitable and by 1870 Bo'ness whaling had ceased. John Anderson owned the whalers "Success", "Alfred", and "Jean"; he also had a large interest in the boiling-house on the Wynd.

1851               Census:  Bo'ness 5,192  Carriden 1,724   Total: 6,916 

1851               Kinneil Railway opened 17th March.

1858               Town Bands.The 30th Junewas the inauguration of the Kinneil Reed Band at a meeting in the Old Schoolroom at Newton. All the members were connected with Mr Wilson's ironworks and not Kinneil Coal Colliery as many people assume. On the original members roll there were 8 Sneddon's, 6 Robertson's, 2 Grant's, and 2 Campbell's. In the same year Carriden Band was instituted, members of which were mainly from Grange Colliery.

1859               Indian Mutiny. The Hope Monument which was erected on top of Airngath Hill, some 520 feet above see level, in 1859 is in memory of Brigadier-General the Hon. Adrian Hope of Hopetoun House. He was killed in 1857 during the Indian Mutiny at the attack on Fort Rooeah.

1860               Second Masonic Lodge. A group of Bo'nessian Masons applied to resurrect the "Pythagoric" Lodge in Bo'ness in 1860, but were refused permission by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Permission was however granted on 5th November 1860 to open a new Lodge, which gave birth to the Douglas Lodge, probably named after the Hamilton-Douglas family. Hence on Thursday 10th January 1861 the first meeting of the Douglas Lodge took place at 7.30 p.m. in the Freemasons Tavern for the purpose of Entering Apprentices.

Thirteen new members were admitted, the first of 80 to be admitted in the first year, the RWM was William Spence of the Star Lodge Glasgow. It was not until 23rd May 1861 that the Douglas Lodge received its official Charter from the Grand Lodge and the first office-bearers were duly elected at a meeting on 28th May when Brother Spence was officially appointed as the RWM.

As a busy harbour Bo'ness had more than its fair share of visiting Masons from abroad and because of this it received a communication from the Grand Lodge about being cautious when admitting visitors and especially French who did not adhere to one of the basic principals of Scottish freemasonry.

1864 - 74       Muirhouses. Admiral Sir James Hope rebuilt the village of Muirhouses into a picturesque group of seven single-storied cottages dated 1864-74. His sister was the benefactor of the former Girls School in the centre dated 1865 and it's adjoining two-storey staff-house.

1870's            Pit Prop Industry.From about 1840 the stoop and room method of mining which left pillars of coal to hold up the mine roof was replaced with the longwall system. This system replaced the pillars of coal with timber props (pit props) which meant a much greater yield of coal from the seams.

The drawback was that before each shift each miner had to cut his own props from imported tree trunks which left a considerable amount of waste wood: a practice that may have been deliberate since the miners were allowed to keep the waste as firewood. Grange Colliery cashier and future Bo'ness Provost George Cadell Stewart noticed this waste and went into partnership with James Love, a Glasgow business man, setting up the first pitwood yard in Bo'ness on reclaimed foreshore.

They imported the props in a variety of lengths and diameters from Scandinavia and other Baltic countries. Other companies soon followed and this led to the new dock being built by the North British Railway Company, to be completed in 1881. In its hay day there were 120 acres of storage yards served by ten miles of railway sidings employing about 1,000 people. Eventually the yards were fitted with cutting equipment capable of producing vast quantities of mining timber at short notice. By 1935 more than 140,000 tons of pit props were imported per annum.

1876               Bo'ness Harbour the west pier to be extended, a dry dock constructed and hydraulic machinery installed.

1878               Bo'ness Journal. Dated Saturday 21st September 1878, with a total of just four pages and costing 1/2d "The Bo'ness Journal" was the first newspaper published in Bo'ness.


1881               Bo'ness Harbour.The new Bo'ness Dock was completed in 1881 along with the rest of the work.

1882/3            Town Hall.One Sunday evening a local preacher was giving a sermon on the fall of the Tower of Siloam in the Old Town Hall when the congregation started to feel the floor moving. There was no alarm, but on further investigation the next day it was found that a huge hole 60ft deep had formed just under the floor. Sadly the Town Hall had to be demolished. A clock tower was built in its place, but it too had to be demolished due to subsidence. The existing clock replaced it.

1885               Craigmailen United Free Church was built. Its name is derived from a farmhouse situated midway between Bathgate and Linlithgow. The congregation is a break away from a group that worshiped there. They have been in Bo'ness since 1762.

1886               Bridgeness Pottery. This was established by Charles McNay, a previous employee of Bo'ness Pottery, in 1886. McNay purchased machinery, moulds and transfer pattern printing plates from Bo'ness Pottery when it went into liquidation in 1898, thus securing much of its predecessors markets.

1887               Bo'ness Old Kirk. With seating for up to 1,250Bo'ness Old Kirk was built in a Norman style at a cost of over £8,000.

1887               The Journal & Gazette building was built.

1887               The Jubilee Drinking Fountain was given to the town by James Allan on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.

1890               Designed by Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Fowler (Engineers) and built by Sir William Arrol (Contractor) the Forth Rail Bridge was opened in Tuesday 4th March, the last rivet being inserted by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII).

Built at a cost of £3,500,000 there were approximately 4,600 men employed in the construction of the bridge, many of who were Irish. The contract for the bridge was awarded on 21 December 1882 and work on the bridge began in 1883, before completion in March 1990 there had been about 500 accidents including 57 fatalities. The bridge is 8,295 feet long and 361 feet above high water at its highest point.

There was 54,000 tons of steel, 194,000 cubic yards of granite, stone and concrete, 21,000 tons of cement and almost 7 million rivets used in the construction of the bridge.

1890's            Birkhill Clay Mine.Towards the end of last century, Mark Hurll, a firebrick manufacturer from Glenboig, Lanarkshire, arrived at Birkhill in his quest for a source of high grade fireclay to meet the demands of the booming refractory industry.

1891               Anchor Tavern.The building which the Anchor Tavern now occupies was built by Andrew Colville of Edinburgh in 1891.

1891               Census:  Bo'ness 6,399  Carriden 2,453   Total: 8,852

1891               Industrial Co-operative Pottery Company Limited. The formation of this company marked the Co-operative Societies short lived venture into pottery manufacture. Although the pottery was of good quality and the company was situated in a new factory, designed by William Simpson, commissioned and built at Grangepans, it ceased trading in 1894.

1893                             Whaling.The "Terra Nova" of Dundee, captured a whale in which a harpoon was found. The harpoon bore the name of the maker, William Cummings, blacksmith, Kinneil dated 1853 which had belonged to harpooner J. McKenzie, of the "Jean" Bo'ness. A copy was made by Bo'ness Hotelier John Jeffrey who had the original on loan.

1894               West Lothian Pottery Company Limited. A group of business men headed by James Hutton, of Culross Coal Co., purchased the works formerly belonging to the Industrial Co-operative Pottery Company Limited in 1894. Much of the original workforce was maintained, the Works Manager being John McNay, son of Charles W. McNay of Bridgeness Pottery. Producing reasonably priced tableware, mugs, jugs, bowls and basins this company also ceased to exist in 1930, mainly due to the depression between the wars.

1896               Kinneil Mine, Kinneil Cannel and Coking Coal Co. Ltd., Bo'ness had 310 Underground and 96 Surface workers, the Manager was Robert Walker

        Bridgeness Mine, Bridgeness Coal Co. Ltd had 193 Underground and 39 Surface workers, the Manager was Wm. Lynn.

1894               Reformation of the Miners Fair.Although viewed with much scepticism in 1894 the first march, which resembled a town parade, with all of its pageantry, took place. As usual it was led by the miner's Deacon, but was now followed by Banner Bearers with the town banner bearing the town coat of arms and motto "Sine Metu", closely followed by the Provost and Commissioners in open horse drawn carriages with outriders. This then was the first town procession which could be linked to today's Bo'ness Children's Fair.

1897               Bo'ness Children's Fair was founded by one of the towns first Provosts George Cadell Stewart, who was Provost of the Burgh from 1894 to 1904. Modelled on Lanark's Lanimer Day, and probably greatly encouraged by Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Provost Cadell for the first time introduce the children of the town into the festivities replacing the hose racing with a programme of revels more suitable for children. Grace Strachan, from Anderson Academy, was the first of many Bo'ness Fair "Queens" to chosen by their fellow pupils.

Unfortunately due to a dispute about the order of precedence the Newtown miners boycotted the Children's Fair taking no part in the proceedings. In fact they carried on the old style miners march up until the beginning of WWI.

1898               Bo'ness Pottery. Under the ownership of John Marshal and Company Bo'ness Pottery went into liquidation in 1898.

1898               Shipbreaking at Bridgeness. Mr Turnbull established a shipbreaking yard at Bridgeness in 1898. The first ship broken was the "Barracouta", but without Oxy-acetalene (which was introduced in 1903) each ship was taken appart plate by plate. At the end of the WWI a flotilla of German submarines  was broken at Bridgeness. Other cargo ships and P&O liners such as the "Oriana and the "Orvieto" were also dismantled at Bridgeness.

In 1904 the yard was taken over and renamed The Forth Shipbreaking Company; it was absorbed into the P. & W. McLellan's Group in 1921.

1900               The Glebe Park was formally opened on Bo'ness Fair Day 1900.

1901               Census: Bo'ness & Carriden 11,473

1902               Bandstand.The cast iron bandstand, which is the centrepiece of the Glebe Park, was erected in 1902, designed and built by Walter McFarlane & Co. of Saracen Foundry in Glasgow.

1904               Town Hall.The present town hall in the Glebe Park was built with a public library; the Carnegie Library now closed. Restricted to a budget of £10,000 the Town hall was designed by George Washington Brown. The Town Council used the Harbour transfer Fund to pay for most of the construction and the Library was financed by Andrew Carnegie. 1905               St Andrews Church.Formerly the Free Church of Scotland, formed in 1843,St Andrew Church was built with a cruciform design at a cost of £6,400, including the hall.

1905               Sea Box Society. The tenement block in Corbiehall with the plaque commemorating the establishment of the Sea Box Society in 1634 was built using Society funds in 1905.

1907               Mathew Steel. Now S&J Studios (hairdressers) No. 11 South Street was designed by Mathew Steel for John Paris. However until it was recently renovated, to include the original ground floor design, only the upper floors were built as designed.

1907               Foreign trade: Inward 691 ships, 378,654 tons; Outward 739 ships, 365,457 tons. Coastal trade: Inward 516 ships, 111,495 tons; Outward 558 ships, 122,367 tons. There were also Consulates for: Denmark, Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, Russia and Sweden in the town.

1908               Masonic Lodge.In the first 50 years of its existence the Douglas Lodge had no less that ten different meeting places, therefore in 1908 a sub-committee was formed to find a more permanent building or site suitable to build a Temple could be found. The first choice was St Mary's Church, which was no longer being used by the Roman Catholics, and a price of £425 was agreed on for the purchase of the building.

Although plans were drawn up to convert the former Chapel work never started as the church authorities had a last minute change of heart and decided not to sell the premises.The current building was built on land purchased from Brother Kilpatrick, and plans were quickly drawn up for the construction of the Temple for an estimated cost of £1,200.

Designed by Mathew Steele for a fee of £60 17s 0d, the foundation stone for the 409 Douglas Lodge Temple sited in Stewart Avenue was laid on 14th August 1909 by Provincial Grand Master Brother Robert Kirk.

1909               Carriden Church was built at a cost of £6,292 to replace the one which stands adjacent to it. Three thousand pounds of this money was raised by holding a three day bazaar in the Town Hall and Mrs Dundas of Carriden had promised to double the final sum. Designed by P. McGregor Chalmers in a Norman style it was the Rev. William Dundas who was principally responsible for its construction.

The stone used was from Deanfield Quarry, Jimmy Mann being in charge of the stone masons. David Aitken carved the bible texts onto the pillars and the barrel shaped ceiling constructed in pitched pine, and other woodwork was done by the Turnbull family. Brought from the second Carriden Church, but possibly originating from the earlier one, the bell was cast in Rotterdam, Holland by Peter Ostens in 1674; "The Ranger" of Carriden, the wooden sailing ship that hangs from the roof, was also from the previous church.

The old Carriden Church, which was abandoned in 1770, stood in front of Carriden House in the old churchyard. Only traces of the foundations remain of this church which date back to 1243.

1910               Masonic Lodge. On 9th February 1910 the new Douglas Lodge Temple was officially opened by Provincial Grand Master Brother Robert Kirk, the Douglas Lodge RWM at the time was Brother John Oliver. The cost of the Temple, excluding the purchase of the land, was £1,328 5s 2d.

1910               The Battle of Slaghill. It is probable that more Bo'nessians fought in this battle than in any other battle in history. For more than two decades each spring, when the Baltic ice melted, pit prop boats from Russia, Finland, Sweden, etc., were always welcomed into Bo'ness Harbour, laden with pit props destined for collieries throughout Scotland, but this year was different. Propyard workers had had a reduction in salary from 6d to 5d/hour, but only in Bo'ness: Alloa and Grangemouth were still being paid 6d.

The 600 Bo'ness workers became more disgruntled until by the end of May, when their petition through their union was refused without consideration, it resulted in them striking. On the day of the Battle of Slaghill several hundred blacklegs were brought in from Glasgow by train arriving just before 6 a.m. A strong police presence was evident and although the blacklegs were greeted with jeers and shouting the strikers soon dispersed, much to the relief of the police. This was however only a temporary lull, led by two pipers they marched through the streets of Bo'ness to gain sufficient support for the impending battle. By mid morning they had gained the required support, being joined by several hundred-foundry workers.

There was a brief pause, when the police drew the truncheons, but urged on by their women they charged the police who were quickly brushed away. The ensuing battle resulted in the Glaswegians sustaining 50 serious injuries and 200 minor injuries before the employers agreed to the Bo'nessians terms. Bo'ness GP, Dr.

Fischer made the Glaswegian injured as comfortable as possible before the left to be treated at Glasgow Infirmary. Many of the participants including future Provost "Jake" (John) McKenzie were charged and several received prison sentences. Alas the outcome was not a total success for the workers since they only received half of the money that they expected and went on strike for.

1911               Population of Bo'ness 14,034: 10,862 town (including 84 shipping) and 3,172 Parish landward.

1911               Hippodrome Cinema,Designed by Mathew Steele and owned by Louis Dickson the Hippodrome Theatre was opened in 1911. The ticket office was added later, in 1926, by architect John Taylor.

1911               Town Fire. Between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.  a fire broke out at the corner of East Pier Street destroying Dymock's grocer & chandler, Hanson's drapers and a showroom for Singer Sewing Machines. The damage was estimated at £6,000. To put that cost into perspective it was more than four times the cost of building the Douglas Lodge (Masonic Temple) in Stewart Avenue less than two years earlier.

1912               Shops on register at 31st December included: Bakers 9; Bootmakers 9; Butchers 14; Chemists 4; Confectioners 17; Cycle Agents 3; Drapers 18; Fishmongers 2; Fruiterers 9; Ironmongers 3; Stationers 3; Tobacconists and Stationers 5; Jewellers 3; Painters 3; Grocers 22; Restaurants 5; Miscellaneous 12.

1913/14          The last miners fair or march took place just before WW I.

1914               DuringWW I flotillas of destroyers were based at Bo'ness. There are the names of 400 men who died in this war on the war memorial at Stewart Avenue

1917               The Pavilion Cinema opened opposite Cairns Lane, Grangepans. It was unusual for its day in that it had a slopping floor so that the screen would not obscured by those sitting in front.

1917               Victoria Cross and Captain Strachan. Captain Harcus Strachan had immigrated from Bo'ness to Canada by the time WWI was declared and thus enlisted by joining the Fort Gray, Canadian Cavalry. In the early years of the war he was awarded the Military Cross for "conspicuous valour". It was for bravery at the Battle of Cambria on the 20th November 1917 that Lt. Strachan received the Victoria Cross.

Having taken command of the regiment when his Commanding Officer was killed Lt. Strachan killed seven of the enemy with his sword, destroyed an important gun emplacement, cut communications and returned to his lines with prisoners. Prior to winning the V.C. Harcus Strachan was initiated into freemasonry at the Douglas Lodge on 22nd January 1917.

1920               Coal Mining in Spitzbergen. Possibly encouraged by hearing about the success of American miners, Mr Cadell and several other associates formed the Scottish Spitzbergen Syndicate with the intention of mining coal in Spitzbergen. In May 1920 a group of 12 Bo'ness miners, a colliery surveyor, Dr Bruce (a Geologist from Edinburgh) and their piper set sail for Spitzbergen via Tromso, Norway. Spirits were high when they set sail from Leith aboard a minesweeper chartered from the Admiralty.

At Tromso they played football against a local side and won before departing for Spitzbergen. They did not find Spitzbergen at all hospitable and even found making test bores very difficult in the Arctic soil frozen to a depth of 4 feet. Unlike the American miners based at Longyear City they did not find any large outcrops of coal. Although another group of miners did return the following year the venture did not prove viable and the Scottish Spitzbergen Syndicate sold their interests to a Dutch company.

1921               Census: Bo'ness & Carriden 13,394

1926?             Star Cinema.The Kinneil and Borrowstounness Church was sold to the Episcopal Church of Scotland. It was later converted into the "Star" Cinema when the Scottish Episcopal Church moved to Cadzow Crescent to occupy what is now St Catherine's Church. The first owner's name was Mr Torrence who married a Miss Duncan from Muirhouses. Unlike many other cinemas of the day it was purpose built, having no stage, and therefore was not used for other theatricals. The Star closed as a Picture House in the late 1960's early 1970's, but like the Hippodrome was used for several years as a Bingo Theatre

1927               Football. Bo'ness v Celtic in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup. With a gate of 10,000 the final score was Celtic 5 Bo'ness 2.

1928               Thomas Foye swam the Forth from New Pit Bo'ness to Blair Pier, taking three hours. This wasn't to be accomplished again for over 50 years when Ken Wright swam it at its widest point west of Queensferry. Swimming from Charlsetown to Blackness it took him 1 hour 40 minutes on Sunday 12th August 1984.

1930's            Dam the Forth!During the work starved pre war years of the early 1930's there was a proposal put forward by John Jeffrey (a Bo'ness hotel owner) and Mathew Steel (an architect) to dam the Forth at Queensferry. At the time this would have employed thousands of labourers; given Bo'ness harbour a new lease of life, since shipping could leave and enter at any time; encouraged shipbuilding at Grangemouth; created a non tidal waterway in Britain, larger than Loch Lomond, and which could rival any Swiss lake for amenities; produced hydro-electric power, to power for all Forth Valley towns; be used as a landing facility for sea-planes which were being considered for commercial flights at that time.

1931               Census:  Bo'ness 14,098

1933               Kinneil Estate. Kinneil Estate was purchased by Bo'ness and Carriden Town Council in 1933 as a commercial enterprise. When Kinneil House was being demolished by the Town Council traces of mural paintings on wood panels and plaster were discovered. Dr Richardson of the Ministry of Works recognised the importance of these paintings and Kinneil House gained its reprieve.

Panelling already removed was retrieved from the yard of a Glasgow contractor and thus the rooms in Kinneil House were restored to their original state of decoration. The earlier of the two wall paintings, portraying the work of the Good Samaritan, can be dated to the time of the Earl of Arran Regent of Scotland or the mid 1500's. The wood panelled room is dated about the first half of the 17th Century to the time of Charles I.

1935-48         Bo'ness Harbour declined for several reasons including the following: it was closed to commercial trade during WW II, the volume of coal business decreased dramatically, it was difficult to keep free of silt and it was not large enough for modern commercial traffic. It is hoped that it will once again find a use as a maritime museum or for pleasure craft.




Yearly Average 1935-9




Iron & Steel

37,585 34,163 25,870 61,052

Pit props

141,672 43,650 86935 104,102

Cement Clinker

15,496 23,357 28,145 33,334

Phosphates etc.

8,584 2,905 7,242 4,303


17,056 5,338 21,329 15,757


490,149 220,393 109,413 169,521 218,948




353,839 27,208 11,629 12,501

Imports & Exports

977,973 574,232 136,621 181,150 231,449

Number of ships entering the port

Inward: 1,207 Outward: 1,297 395 203 269 300

1936               Kincardine Bridge is opened.

1938               Colonel Gordon Dalyell. Prior to his assumption of the name Dalyell on 1st March 1938 he had been known as Lt. Colonel Gordon Loch C.I.E., and served in the Indian Army. He is the father of Sir Tam Dalyell 10th Baronet (Bt NS 1685) MP.

1942               Bo'ness Home Guard.On Tuesday 11th August 1942 Major Gordon Dalyell (formerly as Lt. Colonel Gordon Loch C.I.E., and served in the Indian Army) of the Binns assumed command of the "Bo'ness Home Guard".

1944               The Binns was gifted to The National Trust for Scotland by Eleanor Isabel Dalyell, only child and heiress of Sir James Bruce Wilkie Dalyell 9th Baronet NS (1867-1935). The familly retain the right to fly the Dalyell standard and to the hidden treasure of the Binns should it be discovered.

1945               WW II.  A Tank Landing Craft Unit HMS Stopford converted Bo'ness into a temporary Naval Base. This closed Bo'ness Docks to commercial trade. There are the names of 137 men who died in this war on the war memorial at Stewart Avenue.

1949               World-famous worsted yarn spinners, Paton and Baldwins, come to Bo'ness employing 125 people.

1951               Census: Bo'ness 14,136

1951               Kinneil Colliery.On 25th June 1951, when the Countess of Balfour cut the first sod, the National Coal Board launched a major reorganisation at Kinneil to include two new shafts. It was claimed that Kinneil would become a mining Mecca, which by the early 1960's would be producing 3,000 tons of coal per day with a workforce of 1,700 men. With estimated reserves of over 50,000,000 tons the pit would have enough reserves to last over 100 years.

The Countess of Balfour was presented with a gleaming new spade by the oldest employee, 87 year old Tom Shaw, to cut the first sod. This was followed by a presentation to the Countess of a bouquet by the youngest employee Samuel Miller. After the ceremony there was a function at the Leapark Hotel where Tom, who had spent 67 years in the mining industry, was presented with a new Bank of England £5 note by the Earl of Balfour in appreciation of his service.

1951               Kinneil Church was excavated in 1951. The excavation revealed that the Church had consisted of an oblong nave and small square ended chancel. The "laird's loft" was added at a later date, possibly in the early 17th Century, and may have provided a private gallery for the Hamilton family.

1955               Kinneil Colliery. By the end of 1955 No.1 shaft, used exclusively to wind coal, had reached a depth of 2,769 feet and No.2 shaft, used for men and materials, had reached a depth of 2,580 feet. Both shafts were 22 feet in diameter and would eventually be about 3,000 feet deep. Coal production had reached 600 tons per day and this was estimated to increase to over 1,000 tons per day by early 1957.

1956             Bo'ness Passenger Railway. The last passenger train left Bo'ness via the Edinburgh Glasgow connection at Polmont in 1956. In December 1963 a demolition firm started knocking down the Seaview Railway Station.

1958             Bridgeness Pottery. Opened in 1886 by Charles McNay the Pottery closed in April 1958. The Pottery was situated on the North Side of Bridgeness Road just west of Bridgeness Shipbreaking Yard.

1959            Bo'ness Harbour closed on Tuesday, 30th June 1959.

1961               Census:  Bo'ness 14,207 By January 1964 it was estimated to be 15400, due to the Glasgow over-spill of 600 families or 2,100 people. This was wrong.

1962               Kinneil Ghost: Lady Alice Lilbourne the "White Lady.As recently as October 1962 crowds gathered outside Kinneil House because of eerie noises coming from the empty mansion. Police were in attendance to control the 400 strong crowd on Monday 1st October 1962. Press and TV were present with the celebrated TV reporter Bill Tennant on the scene only to find that the culprit was a small asthmatic barn owl.

1963               Fisons Chemical Works closed as there was no ground to expand.

1963               West Lothian Golf Club. Sunday 2nd June 1963 West Lothian Golf Club is officially opened as an 18-Hole Course with the start of a Pro/Am exhibition game.

1963               Bridgeness Pottery. On Saturday 15th June the 75 year old Bridgeness Pottery was gutted by fire. Opened in 1886 the Pottery C. W. McNay and Sons closed for production in April 1958.

1963               Forth & Clyde Canal opened in 1790 closes to navigation.

1963               Bo'ness Potteries. Although the McNay's Potteries had been closed since April 1958 due to staffing problems, not lack of orders, it was damage due to a fire in 1963 that caused the building to be demolished and with it the end of an industrial era.

1964               Kinneil Colliery links up with Low Valleyfield, Mining history was made on Thursday April 30th at 10.33a.m. when Kinneil Colliery linked up with Low Valleyfield. At a depth of 1800 feet 27 year old Martin "Tiger" Shaw broke through the last few inches of the 4 mile tunnel to meet his Valley field counterpart 34 year old Andrew Drysdale. Kinneil manager David Archibald shook hand with his opposite number Norman Wallace reportedly saying "I hope you have plenty of coal for me."

The 114-mile link between the two collieries workings took 27 men 18 months to complete at a cost of £500,000. William Rowell, general manager of the Coal Board's Alloa Area said "This will be a tonic to both collieries. Until now, the future of Kinneil was extremely doubtful. Now the supply of coal under there is limitless." The joining of the Preston Mine and Jewel Dook to Lochgelly Splint and Seaward Mine (as the coal roads beneath the Forth are called) was expected to give a combined output of 3,000 tons/day of the richest coal in Scotland.

1964            Forth Road Bridge is opened on September 4th,  by Queen Elizabeth.

1965               Union Canal opened in 1818 closes to navigation.

1970               Deanburn Primary School opens Autumn 1970.West Lothian Education Authority built its last school in Bo'ness at Deanburn. After being introduced by County Education Convener, Mr Gavin Howieson, Deanburn Primary School was officially opened by Provost Charles Snedden on 15th January 1971. The school had already been open for its first term and Provost Snedden went on to praise his former classmate, the headmaster, Mr James Vallance, saying " The first term has just been completed and in these few short months he has worked wonders". 

Mr Vallance pointed out that a watercolour hung in the hall depicting the school and grounds had been painted by Mr George Gould and presented to the school by Provost Snedden.

The main contractors were a Bathgate firm Hannah & Nicol, all electrical work however was carried out by Bo'ness company G. B. McFarlane.

1971               Census:  Bo'ness 13,365

1975               Martial Arts. "The Bo'ness Bando Club" was formed in 1975 its inaugural meeting taking place in the senior citizens hall situated in Jamieson Avenue.

1978               Bo'ness Town Centre Rehabilitation. The first phase of the seven-year town centre rehabilitation plan commenced with the "Granary Project" in January 1978. The impressive building dominating the west end of North Street was a 19th Century granary, which once had double doors on each floor-facing west through which grain could be hoisted. The second phase which included Scotland's Close was to commence in January 1979.

1978               Martial Arts:Seibukan Goshin Ryu Ju-Jitsu. Colin Mercer and Andrew Strickland receive their 1st Dan Black Belts in April 1978 and were the first students from Bo'ness to gain this grade, Ken Wright received his 3rd Dan (previously having trained in Edinburgh, London and the USA). Ken also holds Dan (Black Belt) Grades in Judo, Aki-Jitsu, Bo-jitsu and Karate.

1978            Kinneil Roman Fortlet The fortlet was attached to the rear of the Antonine Wall, built AD 142, and would have housed about 20 soldiers. A gravel road ran from the south to north through the fortlet with gateways at either end, the positions of which are now marked by timber posts. Within the fortlet, timber posts also mark the positions of original Roman posts, which were found during the 1981 excavation. Some finds are on display in Kinneil Museum.

1978            Salvation Army. The "new" £77,000 Bo'ness Salvation Army Hall was officially opened on Saturday 17th Jun 1978 by Territorial Commander Colonel Denis Hunter. Captain Colin Tucker, who had been in Bo'ness for only 18 months ,was delighted that the work, which began in October 1977 only took 8 months to complete.

1978             Bo'ness Railway. Freight services to Bo'ness Kinneil Colliery ended in June 1978, but the line was not officially closed until October 1980.

1978               Bo'ness Journal celebrated its centenary year in 1978. Dated Saturday 21st September 1878, with a total of just four pages and costing 1/2d "The Bo'ness Journal" was the first newspaper to be published in Bo'ness. By 1978 however the price was 7p, more than a 33-fold price rise!

1979               Bo'ness Recreation Centre.

1979            The Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway. Although not open to the public until 1981, Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway has been continually developed since 1979 on a landscaped site which had previously been occupied by railway sidings, timber yards and coal mines.  The Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway boasts an extensive double fan of sidings - possibly the largest in preservation - to the north of Bo'ness Station.

This is used for storing vehicles both in active service and awaiting restoration, and is used for marshalling trains run on the Railway and the national network. This intricate network of sidings has been gradually established since the

SRPS created their base at Bo'ness in 1979. The collection includes 28 locomotives, 63 carriages and 95 wagons, cranes, etc.,

1981               Census: Bo'ness 15,244

1981               Ceasar's Palace, previously McTavish's, closed on December 31st 1981. The old hosiery at the bottom of the Bog re-opened in the early 70's as the aptly named La Fabrique - The Factory. At the time La Fabrique boasted on having the best light show in Scotland and although people flocked to the doors when big names like Lulu, Tommy Cooper and Des O'Connor performed this was not sustained throughout the year.

As a result it was closed for some time due to financial trouble before being purchased in 1978 by McTavish Kitchens.

1983               Kinneil Colliery. Kinneil Colliery officially closed on 29th April 1983. It is claimed however that John "Grant" Meikle, a "Banksman" in charge of lanterns and detonators, was the last person to leave the pit on 7th May 1983 after completing the last nightshift.

Despite previous promises by the NCB in 1964, that the supply of coal was limitless and that there would be available coal and secure employment for the next 100 years, Kinneil Colliery was closed because there were geological faults which would cost an estimated £12,000,000 to overcome. This investment was necessary to complete tunnels which would link Kinneil with Longannet under the Firth of Forth.

1983/84          Masonic. In 1983 the officials of the Douglas Lodge were: L.Grant, RWM; J. Ritchie Depute Master; B. Cairns, Substitute Master; G. Shephard, WSW; C. Campbell WJW; H. Scotland, Secretary; D. Grant, Treasurer; D. Cumming, Almoner; David Inglis, Chaplain; A. Neil, Senior Deacon; Brian McCartney, Junior Deacon; I Johnston, Inner Guard; G. Meikle, Bible Bearer; F. Burrows, Sword Bearer; A. Martin, Jeweller; E. Sneddon, Architect; J. Grant, D. of C.; D. King, Senior Steward; J. Knox, Tyler.

1984               Ken Wright swam the Forth, at its widest point west of the Bridges, from Charlestown to Blackness taking 1 hour 40 minutes on 12th August 1984. It has been 56 years since it was previously swam by Thomas Foye, who swam the Forth from New Pit Bo'ness to Blair Pier.

1984               Martial Arts. Representing Scotland, Ken Wright (Scottish Team Manager) took the most medals of the day in the 1984 World Jujitsu Championships, including the best technique of the day, awarded by Professor Wally Jay 9th Dan. After the competition, which was held in Canada, Professor Robert (Dick) Morris 8th Dan (BJJA, MAC) promoted Ken to 4th Dan Ju-Jitsu. As such he held the highest Ju-Jitsu grade in Scotland.

1985               Kinneil Bar, which had been closed for almost 2 years, and was in a very dilapidated state re-opens in late March as the "Ingle Nook" . In December the adjoining lounge is re-opened as "Visions" housing no less than 5 video monitors.

1985               The first "Victorian Street Fair" was held in Bo'ness.

1986               Martial Arts. Ken Wright receives his 5th Dan in Seibukan Goshin Ryu Ju-Jitsu.

1989             Bo'ness Docks. After a gap of 30 years the first commercial ship, the Balmoral, registered in Bristol visits Bo'ness Harbour, although it did berth on the seaward side of the harbour. Built by Thomycrofts Southampton for 800 passengers the twin screw ferry & excursion ship was launched in 1949. 203.5 ft o.a.l, 736 Gross tonnage. Twin 6 cyl 600 bhp diesel engines. It is maintained by (Registered Charity) the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and makes frequent trips & excursions from many UK locations from April to October.

1989               Martial Arts. Ken Wright is awarded his 6th Dan in Seibukan Goshin Ryu Ju-Jitsu, after having been the Scottish Team Manager for  over 10 years since 1976.

1998               Brian's Café opened on 14th December in Hope Street in the same premises where his father opened the Arc'Ceil many years before.

Further Reading:

Borrowstounness and District by Thomas J. Salmon
Forth to the Sea by W.F. Hendrie
The Third Statistical Account of SCOTLAND Volume XXI The County of West Lothian Section: Parishes of Bo'ness and Carriden by Rev. John F. Bayne pre 1964 and W. F. Hendrie from 1964
Bo'ness 300 Years by William Fyfe Hendrie
REMINISCENCES - BO'NESS FROM 1900 to 1939  by Charles Martin
Scottish Biographical Dictionary  by Chambers Editor Rosemary Goring

Compiled by: Ken Wright  (last revised 4th February 1999)

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