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From the 'House in the Midst of the Boar Wood' to its present position at the heart of Scotland's burgeoning 'Silicon Glen', Bathgate and it surrounds have played a subtly significant part in Scotland's history. The preceptory of the Knights of St. John, where William Wallace last met his nobles before the ill-fated battle of Falkirk in 1298, can still be seen at Torphichen. Birthplace of the inventor of chloroform, James Simpson, and site of the world's first oil refinery, the area may claim indeed a worldwide importance. But this book presents the reader with a more vivid picture of the past than even famous names can. The 200 photographs on its pages record the Procession Days, charabanc outings and everyday working lives of a vanished era. Here both the children's games in the quiet streets of old Bathgate and the hard labours of their elders almost come alive again for us. Nor yet is the more recent, equally rich, history neglected. The post-war years were not easy ones, with the decline in industry and the closure of the British Leyland.
Education of the next generation, considered crucial by forward-thinking locals since the seventeenth century, was an issu once more at the forefront and Bathgate's schools received international attention for their pioneering techniques. Here William Hendrie, himself a local former headmaster, has gathered and expertly elucidated a collection of photos ranging from church to colliery and station to school. They should appeal to any who feel that Bathgate is a town unjustly 'passed by many, and visited by few'.