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by
Graham Reed


The title of this article probably
gives rise immediately to two
questions. The first, hopefully
largely from readers of ‘Context’
living south of Berwick upon
Tweed, is ‘where is West Lothian?’
The District is one of four that
make up Lothian Region which lies
at the eastern end of Scotland’s
Central Belt and focusses on
Edinburgh, its largest settlement.
The historic centre of the District is
the former County Town of
Linlithgow, regrettable known to
many, if at all, as the birthplace of
Mary Queen of Scots, whilst the
present administrative centre,
Bathgate, similarly tends to be
remembered only as a consequence
of the national publicity some years
ago given to the closure of the
British Leyland truck plant in the
town. West Lothian does have
some magnificent buildings and
structures of national architectural
importance Linlithgow Palace, a
favourite royal residence of several
Scottish monarchs; Hopetoun
House built by Sir William Bruce
and added to by William Adam and
his sons, Robert and John, four of
Scotland’s greatest architects; and
the Avon Aqueduct which rivals
Telford’s masterpiece at Port
Cysylite on the Shropshire Union
Canal in Wales but the general
impression which a visitor gains of
the District is one of mainly
working class housing, much of it
built in the second half of the last
century, with a scattering of unpre-
tentious churches and civic
buildings constructed at the same
time. For Architecture with a
capital ‘A’ people automatically
gravitate to West Lothian’s
neighbour to the east, Edinburgh.
This brief background prompts the
second question ‘why does the
District have a Design and
Conservation Award Scheme’?
After all, the circumstances would
not appear to be propitious.
The active encouragement of
improved architectural standards
within the District has been a
positive attempt by the Council’s
Planning Department to overcome
some of the public’s misconceptions
about West Lothian and the
unassuming nature of much of the
District’s legacy of old buildings has
spurred the Department on to do
better than our more architecturally
fortunate neighbourhood authorities.
Our object has always been to
secure good standards of design in
new building work and to promote
the careful conservation and re-use
of existing buildings of local
architectural or historic interest. In
1980 the Council decided to
recognise the efforts made by
developers and owners in response
to the Department’s objectives by
instituting a Design and Conser-
vation Award Scheme. It was
hoped that by drawing attention to
successful projects, greater public
awareness of the benefits to the
community of the District Council’s
planning control and conservation
activities would be achieved, and
that even higher standards of design
and restoration work would be
encouraged within West Lothian.
Nominations for consideration for
award were invited from
Councillors, Community Councils,
members of the public, builders and
architects. Any project, large or
small, relating to new development,
the extension or alteration of an
existing building, or the re-use and
restoration of an old property, was
eligible, the only exclusions being
buildings which had already
received an award or had been
designed or commissioned by the
District Council. Three judges, one
representing the Scottish Civic
Trust, one the Royal Incorporation
of Architects in Scotland, and the
Chairman of the Planning Comm-
ittee representing the District
Council, were to consider each
nomination.
Three projects were given awards
in 1980. The Design Award was
won by the new Bathgate Head Post
Office, designed by Hutchison,
Locke and Monk of Paisley for the
Scottish Postal Board; the
Conservation Award was given to
Linlithgow architect, William
Cadell, for his restoration of 13-21
Lion Well Wynd in Linlithgow on
behalf of the Grange Conservation
Company Limited; and a Special
Award was given to the Scottish
Special Housing Association for its
rehabilitation of 88 steel houses at
West Lothian District Council
DESIGN & CONSERVATION
AWARD SCHEME
Ochiltree Castle by Linlithgow
Winner of 1984 D.C.
Conservation A ward

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