Classification and Statistics

Settlement Type: town
Population (2011): 56269    
(2001): 50826
(1991): 41647
(1981): 38955
(Combined with Pumpherston and Uphall Station)
(1971): 13567
(1961): 1462
(1881): 1484
(1871): 1727
(1861): 1366
(1831): 1035

Tourist Rating: One Star
Text of Entry Updated: 17-MAY-2019

Latitude: 55.8984°N Longitude: 3.5144°W
National Grid Reference: NT 054 683
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Livingston was intended to be a new regional centre within Scotland. The Designated Area totalled 2710 ha (6692 acres), comprising 1331 ha (3292 acres) in the old country of Midlothian and 1376 ha (3400 acres) in the old county of West Lothian making it, initially at least, the only Scottish New Town to be split between different local authorities. The land was relatively easy to acquire as most belonged to a single landowner, Harry Primrose, 6th Earl of Rosebery (1882 - 1974), who was willing to sell. A physical and economic plan for the area was commissioned from Prof. Donald Robertson from the University of Glasgow, Prof. Sir Robert Matthew and Prof. Percy Johnson-Marshall of the University of Edinburgh, and published in 1966. The New Town was designated with a target population of 70,000 but this target was soon raised to 100,000, with the majority of residents coming from Glasgow and the other industrial towns of West-Central Scotland, although some came from Edinburgh and the east, the Scottish Borders and even from Wales. Livingston also provided a refuge for a few South Asian families expelled from Uganda in 1972. Neither target has been met, but a population of 56,269 (2011) makes Livingston the largest settlement in the Lothians after Edinburgh.

To the north of the River Almond, the districts of Livingston are Almond, Carmondean, Craigshill, Craigswood, Deans, Deer Park, Eliburn, Howden, Kirkton, Knightsridge, Ladywell, Livingston Village, Nether Dechmont, Newyearfield and Woodlands Park, while to the south of the river are Adambrae, Almondvale, Bankton, Bellsquarry, Brotherton, Brucefield, Dedridge, Murieston and Williamston. Industry was located at the four corners of the town, placed to minimise commuting and provide easy access to the M8 motorway and a proposed M71 motorway in the south. Livingston was described as a 'motorway town', but the M71 never materialised. Rather trees have become a characteristic of the town; 146 ha / 360 acres of mature woodland was retained and more than half-a-million new trees were planted in the first ten years.

The Livingston Development Corporation (LDC) appointed Denis Barnes as Town Artist between 1974-80, and he was responsible for several public art installations around the town. The Livingston Landmarks project was funded by the Development Corporation as one of its last acts in 1995, with the suggestion it would help residents and visitors navigate the road system. This involved art installations by Perth-based artist David F. Wilson being placed on four of the town's major roundabouts; namely the Eliburn North Roundabout, Livingston East (Deerpark) Roundabout, Lizzie Brice's Roundabout and Newpark Roundabout. The installations are all formed from reclaimed walling stone, black dolerite (whinstone), yellow limestone and copper.

The underlying geology combines Carboniferous sedimentary rocks (sandstone, shale and limestone), laid down in lakes and lagoons between 326 and 335 million years ago, with igneous dolerite sills later injected between. The LDC uniquely has a fossil named after it; the Eldeceeon rolfei was found by Stan Wood (1939 - 2012) at nearby East Kirkton Quarry and the LDC contributed to its purchase by the National Museum of Scotland, where the Keeper of Geology was noted palaeontologist Dr. Ian Rolfe.

Livingston pioneered various new initiatives; in 1969 the town saw the first team of doctors, nurses and dentists operating from a district health centre at Craigshill, and others soon followed, some of the first in Scotland. In 1970, Livingston was one of the first towns in Britain to provide natural gas from the North Sea to its residents. An ecumenical experiment that ran from 1965 saw the Church of Scotland, the Episcopalians, Congregationalists and the Methodists worship together and jointly fund the provision of church buildings. Other denominations including the Roman Catholics, Baptists and the Salvation Army contributed to the shared community approach. A joint ministry continues today as the Livingston Ecumenical Parish.

HM Queen Elizabeth II visited the town in 1978, 1983, 1987, 1990 and 1996.

There are seven main industrial parks at Alba Campus, Brucefield, Deans, Houstoun, Kirkton Campus, Oakbank and Starlaw, together with smaller office areas. Livingston is noted for its information and communications technology firms, such as media giant Sky, which occupies several buildings in the town, Cadence Design Systems, that designs computer chips and CB Technology, a specialist electronics manufacturer. By 1985 there were seventy micro-electronics firms in the town and Livingston became the centre of Scotland's 'Silicon Glen'. However, following a decline in this industry, most of the larger hardware manufacturers closed their facilities, including NEC, Seagate, Unisys (which began as Burroughs), Hewlett Packard (which was the Digital Equipment Corporation) and, more recently, Jabil and Kaiam. These companies have, to some extent, been replaced by biosciences and pharmaceuticals. Other industries include precision engineering, whisky production, the manufacture of packaging, air-conditioners, specialist forged products, several large regional distribution centres and various call centres.

Having failed to attract a university to the Kirkton Campus, two significant training centres were opened in the town: the Road Transport Industry Training Board's Multi-Occupational Training and Educational Centre (MOTEC) with its idiosyncratic see-through boiler house and 200-bedroom trainee residence, and the Schlumberger British Training Centre, described as "an oil university" with its distinctive training derricks visible from the M8 motorway. Despite not being well-placed for the North Sea, this part of West Lothian had been the cradle of the oil industry in the 19th C. Both of these facilities have now closed but, for the moment, the derricks remain.

Livingston's oldest industrial concern, Adam Robertson's New Calder Paper Mill at Almondell, which had produced wrapping paper since the 19th C., closed in the early 2000s and the site was redeveloped for housing. The Livingston Post newspaper was published between 1968 and 1988.

References and Further Reading
Ball, Wendy E. (2012) Out in the Open. West Lothian Council Community Arts
Bisset, Alexander M. (1906) History of Bathgate and District. An account of the parishes of Bathgate, Torphichen, Livingston and Whitburn, in the county of Linlithgow. West Lothian Printing and Publishing Co., Bathgate
De Syllas, Justin (2015) Integrating Care: The architecture of the comprehensive health centre. Routledge, Abingdon
Hendrie, William F. (1988) The History of Livingston. Livingston Development Corporation
Livingston Development Corporation (1973) Residents' Handbook. The British Publishing Company, Gloucester
McWilliam, Colin (1978) The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian except Edinburgh. Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex
Peattie, Emma (2012) Livingston Lives. Luath press, Edinburgh
Smith, Robin (2001) The Making of Scotland. Canongate Books Ltd, Edinburgh
Wills, Elspeth M. (1996) Livingston: The Making of a Scottish New Town. The Rutland Press and the Livingston Development Corporation

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