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St Magdalene's Distillery

A somewhat austere residential development formed out of the C-listed malting barns and kilns of the former St. Magdalene's Distillery, situated a quarter-mile (0.5 km) southeast of Linlithgow town centre. Founded late 18th C. at Bonnytoun by Adam Dawson (1747 - 1836), whose son was to become Provost of Linlithgow, the distillery moved to this site in 1824 to take advantage of the Union Canal as a means of receiving raw materials and coal for the boilers, and distributing its malt whisky. It took its name from the nearby Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, first recorded serving pilgrims in 1335 but long disappeared. By the 1850s the distillery was employing 30 people and producing 15,140 litres (4000 gallons) of whisky each week, using water drawn from St. Magdalene's Well. A. & J. Dawson went into liquidation in 1912 and the property was bought by The Distillers Company Ltd.

The distillery closed in 1983 and the extensive complex of buildings lay empty for some years before being redeveloped in two principal phases as flats. The distillery included two massive stone-built malting-barns with three square kilns capped with distinctive pagoda-shaped ventilators. The eastern range was refurbished in 1990 with town-houses added behind, the work of Glasgow-based Cooper Design Associates. Conversion of the five-storey westernmost building was completed in 2002 by R & G Homes at a cost of £3 million.

The modern bonded warehouses that were once associated with the distillery lie opposite and date from c.1960. These are still in use (2014), now owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd. Whisky from St. Magdalene's Distillery is still available but now rare and expensive.


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