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Things to do in Livingston, Lothian

Livingston From the Air
Livingston From the Air © By Kim Traynor (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Livingston is the largest town in West Lothian, situated 22 miles west of Edinburgh. A man named Da Leving built a fortified tower in the area and the village took the name of Leving to which "tun" or town was added. It gradually derived into Livingston.

Originally Livingston was a farming village beside the River Almond. The road had toll houses which developed into ale houses for travellers.

The Livingston Centre
The Livingston Centre © Paul Thomson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Livingston Development Corporation (LDC) was set up to oversee the area's development as the regional centre of five new post-war towns needed to re-house Glasgow's overspill along with East Kilbride, Irvine, Glenrothes and Cumbernauld.

Livingston from East Cairn Hill
Livingston from East Cairn Hill © Richard Webb [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The LDC controlled the growth in an orderly fashion from East to West.

It oversaw planning and design and ensured that green areas were retained. The new town plan required 1,000 new homes per year and the first housing estate was on the hillside at Craigshill.

The first family to arrive, making local history, was the Gilchrists who moved into 39 Broom Walk in April 1966.

The first shop in the state-of-the-art Craigshill shopping centre (as it was then) was opened by Rangers goalkeeper Billy Ritchie.

Livingston Sculpture
Livingston Sculpture © Mcwesty at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Employment followed as Cameron Ironworks moved to the area, followed later by Sky TV, Motorola, Gore-Tex and NEC.

The LDC also provided a new City Stadium for Meadowbank Thistle Football Club which was renamed Livingston FC, another brilliant move by the town planners.

Livingston Rugby Club was also quickly established.

The expansion of Livingston continued, based on new neighbourhoods surrounding local shops and services rather than one giant city expansion.

In 1979 one of the LDC's employers, Robert Taylor, claimed to be knocked unconscious from an encounter with a UFO. The incident has never been proved or disproved and remains one of the most notable UFO sightings in the UK.

Tesco Distribution Centre in Livingston
Tesco Distribution Centre in Livingston © By Kim Traynor (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1996 the LDC had done its job and the end was marked with a series of landmark sculptures which were commissioned on the main roundabouts. West Lothian Council took over the running of this thriving planned community and it continues to grow with the "Silicon Glen" industries.


Present Day Livingston

Currently Livingston has grown to a population of over 50,000. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside with the Pentlands Hills to the south and the Bathgate Hills to the north.

Livingston Civic Centre
Livingston Civic Centre © Jim Smillie [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The town has two main shopping centres: The Centre and the newer Livingston Designer Outlet, formerly known as McArthur Glen. The town now offers some of the best shopping in Scotland.

Almondvale Stadium Livingston
Almondvale Stadium Livingston © By daniel0685 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The area has excellent transport links with both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Livingston is close to the M8 and has rail links from the station at Bathgate.

Things to Do Around Livingston

Apart from the excellent shopping Livingston has several attractions nearby.

There are three country parks in West Lothian with ranger-led activities, woodland walks, orienteering and other recreational opportunities. Beecraigs, Polkemmet and Almondell/Calderwell Country Parks all have excellent Visitor Centres.

Livingston Old Kirk
Livingston Old Kirk © Jim Smillie [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Whitburn Community Museum has an interesting display about the Levi Jeans factory as well as the history of local mining.

The Howden Park Arts Centre offers a season of drama and arts performances.

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