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Livingston, General

Burgh (Medieval), Town (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Livingston, General

Classification Burgh (Medieval), Town (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Livingston New Town

Canmore ID 72642

Site Number NT06NE 33

NGR NT 05099 67345

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council West Lothian
  • Parish Mid Calder
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District West Lothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Recording Your Heritage Online


Designated as a New Town in 1962, Livingston is the second largest urban area in Lothian and its greatest concentration of modern industry. The town's rolling landscape rises up to Dechmont Law in the north and down to the lovely Almond Valley, which acts as its spine. Other watercourses - the Murieston Water, Killandean Burn, Dedridge Burn and Folly Burn - around which so much of the town's splendid landscape, trails, greenways and bicycle routes have been created - drain into the River Almond.

Mansions, farms, mills and mines have been absorbed, often providing the new with a heritage anchor unusual in such New Towns.

Its layout in groups of neighbourhood areas, by which traffic is channelled around the perimeter, renders Livingston very private. You could drive through parts of it with no other impression than desultory housing, or factories located within trees. The housing has developed from the 1960s medium-rise high density (as in Craigshill), to the 1970s preoccupation with the place of the car in housing areas (and the creation of an environment in which people dominate), to the lower density, low-rise suburban approach of the late 1980s and '90s, particularly in the south of the town, and a more recent rediscovery of the tenement.

The quality of industrial design and landscape has been central to the drive to attract new companies. The advance factory - speculative developments of varying levels of quality aimed at particular market sectors - has been developed to a sophisticated level, later examples becoming increasingly streamlined with curved corners in automotive imagery. Big sheds, whether for storage, retail or as call centres, are now the norm but exceptional design quality is still to the fore in some areas, notably the Alba Campus.

Town Centre

Focus of administration, shopping, offices and hotels, rather than a high street or market place (there is a small 'town square' across the Almondvale Boulevard which does not serve as such), Almondvale occupies a plateau just south of the river, enfolded by distributor roads. Two, linear, six-storey, eye-catching slabs with white mosaic panels - Pentland House, 1979, and West Lothian House (formerly Sidlaw House), 1981, both by Michael Laird & Partners - sit at right angles, and sandwich the original Almondvale Centre, by Hay Steel & MacFarlane opened in 1976. Grampian Court and Lomond House, to the south of the centre, are horizontally proportioned with strongly emphasised brick buttresses, in either a dark-brown or a royal-red brick. Bank of Scotland, 1988, Forgan & Stewart, is a financial fortress; crisply detailed in grey panels and dark glazing.

The centre is now greatly expanded (and expanding). Asda Wal-Mart, 2001, Percy Johnston-Marshall and Partners, to the east; the white, cathedral scaled Outlet Centre, 2002, by Leslie Jones Architects, to the west, the strange double half-onion domes on the multi-storey car park attempting to give accent and focus. Inside, a dynamic sculpture 'Birth of the Sky' by the celebrated Japanese artist Sumsumu Shingu.

Work is underway on a new phase, 'The Elements', linking the Almondvale and Outlet Centres with a new mall, anchor store and winter garden by BDP Architects, 2006. It demonstrates how little the 21st century can teach earlier generations about creating a town centre.

To the south, and facing onto the sea of cars, are further accretions of which only the structural glass and silver rain screen of Marks and Spencer, 2004, by Reid Architecture is worth a second glance.

Lesser public buildings, retail sheds and roundabouts circle the west end including a hotel, 2003, and B&Q and Morrisons mega stores, 2006, by 3D Architecture and Design. Further out, on the western edge of the centre, is the Almondvale Business Park, a group of speculative office buildings in a landscaped setting started with a building by LDC Architects in 1994 and subsequent blocks in similar palette by Comprehensive Design Architects.

To the north are the campus of West Lothian College by RMJM, 2001, the 10,000 seat Almondvale Stadium, 1995, Percy Johnston-Marshall and Partners, and the site of the West Lothian Civic Centre to include relocated Council headquarters, sheriff court and police headquarters by Building Design Partnership, 2007-9. These buildings are connected to the town centre by an A-frame bridge.

St John's Hospital, Howden, 1991, Boswell, Mitchell and Johnston

Complex now firmly established as both a major social and visual focus. Barrack-style nurses' accommodation to the north west in the former grounds of Howden House.

Taken from "West Lothian: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Stuart Eydmann, Richard Jaques and Charles McKean, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NT06NE 33 c.06 68

Erected burgh of barony in 1604.

G S Pryde 1965.


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