There has been a hostelry at the bridge over the Avon for hundreds of years. The river Avon (pronounced as Avin) takes its name from the Gaelic for ‘river’. It used to mark the boundary between Stirlingshire & Linlithgowshire and is now the official division between West Lothian & Falkirk districts. It is also the western extremity of the town of Linlithgow’s boundaries and as such features as part of the annual ‘the riding of the marches’.
The present bridge was built in 1960, this replaced an early 19th century structure which itself had been considerably changed and widened in 1880, the earliest reference to a stone bridge occurs in 1660, thereafter the river crossing regularly features in the town charters dealing with the rights and privileges of boundaries & tolls.
The Livingston family retained control of the river crossing until 1680, when Alexander Livingston, Earl of Linlithgow passed the rights over to Linlithgow Town Council, from that date until 1880 the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow benefited from the tolls collected from any traffic using the bridge. Everything using the structure paid according to a strict list of regulated fees: more for a stagecoach than a cart, which paid more than a horse or a cow or a pedestrian.
The Bridge Inn itself was doubtless established to refresh those who lives and worked in the vicinity and to supply the needs of the men and animals who used the bridge. At the turn of the century the Inn was owned by James Battison and was known as ’Battison’s, as such it features in many early photographs of ‘The Marches’. To this day ‘The Bridge’ features largely in ‘The Marches’ Ceremonies, which take place on the first Tuesday after the second Thursday in June. From the steps, speeches are made to ‘The Brig’ & to ‘The Dyers’, the oldest craft fraternity in Scotland.
Although a great deal has changed ‘The Bridge Inn’ still plays an important part in the remembered heritage of the local community and continues to refresh the weary traveler as they traverse the venerable boundary line of the Ancient & Royal Burgh of Linlithgow.
Lee Johnston, Proprietor