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Regent Centre

Located between Blackness Road and High Port, the Regent Centre represents the principal in-town shopping centre in Linlithgow (West Lothian). Completed in 1983 as a block construction under a pitched and slated mansard-style roof, with mock battlements, the building is wholly unexceptional - in fact utilitarian and drab, although there is free parking. The architects were the Burntisland-based Robert Hurd & Partners. Retail units occupy the ground floor, with office space above. The original anchor store and first shop to open was a William Low supermarket, which became Tesco following the takeover of the Dundee-based chain in 1994. The Regent Centre is owned by Edinburgh-based County Properties Group.

The centre is interesting only because it occupies the site of Regent Works, which were built in 1902 for the Nobel Explosives Company Ltd. to make safety fuses for the mining industry, one of three factories constructed in Scotland by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The Regent Works were designed by local architect William M. Scott (1870 - 1943) and featured brick arcades, Italianate towers and a slender brick chimney. They were officially opened by Sir Charles Tennant (1823 - 1906), who was chairman of the Nobel Explosives Company. The factory produced shells and fuses in large quantities during the First World War. Nobel merged to form Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in 1926 and again was called upon to make armaments during World War II, with more than eleven million incendiary bombs produced by 1945. Ordnance Survey maps of the time show explosives' stores spaced out over Baron's Hill to the east. After the war the factory diversified into the manufacture of other chemicals, but production came to an end in the 1970s. During demolition of the buildings in 1982, a time capsule was discovered behind a stone plaque in one of the brick towers, containing newspapers, documents and coins from 1902. This was concealed once again along with a contemporary capsule behind the same plaque which was re-erected in the new shopping centre.

Regent Works took its name from James Stuart, Regent of Scotland, who was assassinated on Linlithgow High Street in 1570.


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