The Centenary Gala Dinner was held in the Fairway Hotel, Bathgate on Friday 14th October


As we gathered at the Fairway Hotel, Duncan, resplendent in evening dress and bow tie, welcomed each one of us individually and guided us to our seats.  Arranged in small groups at round tables there was plenty of opportunity for chatter as we studied the tempting menu for the centenary celebration dinner.  We were spoilt for choice and, whether we opted for beef or chicken, the plates arrived piping hot, served by a most attentive group of staff.  After eating such a delicious meal, we settled down with our coffee and mints in anticipation of the evening’s entertainment.

The after dinner speaker, Bill Millan, curator of the Bennie Museum, proceeded to tell us all about the history of Bathgate from its earliest beginnings on the equator (I kid you not) to its present day resting place, rather nearer to the North Pole! We made the long and arduous journey as if we were Lizzie the dinosaur, who had roamed the warm and alien landscape before being entombed in stone, only to be awakened from her slumbers by an eager fossil hunter in more recent times. Having lived and died in something akin to Jurassic Park, the now petrified Lizzie had drifted slowly and inexorably northwards on the tectonic plates at roughly 1cm per year. Progress was slow indeed.

The local countryside was showered with lava and ash as volcanoes popped up like pimples on the earth’s crust, their detritus laying down the strata that would ultimately form the rocks which gave rise to the local oil-shale industry. Bathgate had the world’s first oil refinery, established by James “Paraffin” Young. But, like so much of Bathgate’s industrial past, it is now defunct. However, the rocks still remain beneath our feet so shhhhh … don’t tell Nicola or, when funds run low, she’ll be fracking up the front lawn in a bid to extract the remaining shale gas. Meanwhile, over millions of years, poor Lizzie slept on, unconscious of the climate changes overhead. The ice ages came and went, the glaciers contouring our landscapes as they ground slowly onwards, leaving boggy ground around the area which was to become ‘the forest of the wild boar’ or Bathgate.

Bathgate has been a town of some notable ‘firsts’ and not just because of Lizzie, one of the world’s first reptiles. Apparently the Stuart dynasty was also conceived here. And, speaking of Royalty, Sir James Young Simpson was the first to discover anaesthetics, which he used on Queen Victoria, inducing sleep – an ability still being employed in this present day. Much of the history of Bathgate has been buried through time and history, not least the remains of a castle underneath the 9th hole of the local golf course. It certainly didn’t hold back two of the town’s leading players, Eric Brown and Bernard Gallacher who subsequently became captains of the British Ryder Cup teams. The fascinating facts of Bathgate’s illustrious past continued to unfurl until Duncan aka ‘the man in the corner’ skilfully and finally managed to draw the speaker to a conclusion – although we were assured that he was still in full flow and had only scratched the surface of our local history.

The evening was eventually rounded off with a splendid, short and pithy rendition of Cinderella by Margaret, Janet, Doreen, Jill and Sandra, who provided us with salient examples of how to get to the nub of a tale quickly and effectively, provoking gales of laughter at the same time. Sandy then read us some amusing quotes from ‘Life’s Like That’ and finally Ron and Sandra gave us a couple of wonderfully funny Flanders and Swann songs.  It was truly a memorable evening and after a well-deserved vote of thanks from David, the witching hour approached.  Tired and replete, we scurried off to our various modes of transport before they, or we, turned into pumpkins.

(Anthea McAlpin)

Saturday 29th Oct … …

saw our Youth Group’s Halloween Event.  Eighteeen young people plus many more adults enjoyed fun bobbing for apples.  As you can see from the photos there was something for everyone.