Me­mento of a happy ex­cur­sion around the county

West Lothian Courier - - Memory Lane -

The Courier has teamed up with our friends at the Al­mond Val­ley Her­itage Trust to bring our read­ers pho­to­graphs and sto­ries from West Loth­ian’s past.

Tourism is noth­ing new to West Loth­ian, but the growth of mo­tor trans­port fol­low­ing World War I brought a new free­dom to ex­plore the county’s coun­try­side and his­tor­i­cal sights.

A lit­tle pam­phlet in our col­lec­tion serves as a me­mento of a happy ex­cur­sion around north of the county on Wed­nes­day, Sep­tem­ber 3, 1924.

SMT – the Scot­tish Mo­tor Trac­tion com­pany – was at that time the lead­ing coach op­er­a­tor in the east of Scot­land. Dur­ing the sea­son, the com­pany of­fered daily ex­cur­sions to the tourist gems of Scot­land; from the Trossachs and Loch Ka­trine in the north, to the land of Wal­ter Scott to the south.

Their West Loth­ian tour was one of their less am­bi­tious ex­cur­sions, with tick­ets mod­estly priced at 3/6 each.

Tours de­parted from St David’s Street, Ed­in­burgh, just across from the Scott Mon­u­ment. It was guar­an­teed that all coaches would run“no mat­ter how few pas­sen­gers are booked”. All pas­sen­gers were is­sued with a neat lit­tle pam­phlet de­scrib­ing the his­tory of the towns and land­scape they would be pass­ing through.

The out­ward jour­ney fol­lowed the route of the old A9, pass­ing the dis­used aero­drome at Turn­house which was to be­come Ed­in­burgh Air­port.

Dis­tant shale bings were said to “glow with won­der­ful pink and amethys­tine colours in the light of the set­ting sun”be­fore mo­tor­ing on­ward to Lin­lith­gow, the“sleepy old town of St Michael”.

Here, time was taken to ex­plore the Palace, the Kirk and the High St, and to take on re­fresh­ments. The guide notes “to tell the his­tory of Lin­lith­gow, would be to write a his­tory of Scot­land”.

Board­ing the bus once more, the ex­cur­sion­ists headed for Black­ness, where, fol­low­ing mil­i­tary use dur­ing World War One, the“ugly modern build­ings”around the cas­tle were be­ing re­moved and the old struc­ture re­stored.

The tour con­tin­ued past Man­ner­ston and the Binns, then north through the woods to the“se­questered vil­lage of Aber­corn”- de­scribed as one of the most beau­ti­ful drives near Ed­in­burgh - be­fore con­tin­u­ing through Hopetoun es­tate, past So­ci­ety, then stop­ping again to ex­plore the his­toric burgh of South Queens­ferry.

The guide con­cludes: “So when our trip is over and we have re­galed our­selves with an ex­cel­lent tea at the Hawes Inn, we board the mo­tor once more for a beau­ti­ful nine-mile run back to Ed­in­burgh, well sat­is­fied that we have seen so much that is an­cient and so much that is modern, at the back door of Auld Reekie.”

A won­der­ful day in West Loth­ian, and for only three and six­pence.

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