A new book telling the story of the British Motor Corporation (BMC)/British Leyland Truck and Tractor plant in Bathgate, from the point of view of the people who worked in the industry, will be launched on Saturday 24th March 2012 in the Regal Community Theatre, Bathgate.
The BMC/Leyland Truck and Tractor factory was born in an era of hope as the shale oil industry and other traditional industries declined in West Lothian creating high unemployment and hardship. At its peak more than 6000 people were employed in the industry. By the 1970s the plant housed the largest concentration of machine tools under one roof in Europe and Bathgate-built trucks and tractors were exported all over the world. The factory closed on the 27th June 1986 in the midst of other industrial closure across central Scotland causing the Proclaimers to write their lament “Letter from America” which includes the lines, Bathgate No More.
Bathgate Once More: the Story of the BMC/Leyland Truck and Tractor plant, 1961-86 explores the coming of the BMC factory to Bathgate, the range of jobs people did, the training and apprenticeships, the social life of the plant and impact on the local community, the achievements of the trades unions and the 1980s campaigns to fight closure of the factory. The book is based on the personal, first-hand accounts of some of the many thousands of people who worked in the industry. It has been written so that that this important period of West Lothian and Scottish history is not forgotten.
Professor Tom Devine, historian and author of The Scottish Nation 1700-2000, comments on the book, 'I am particularly struck by the careful work which has been done on oral history with the aim of preserving the experiences of those who actually worked at the Bathgate plant and without which their memories would have been lost forever.'
The Bathgate Once More project was funded by an award of £42,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. More than 400 people and organisations have contributed to the Bathgate Once More project taking part in a range of events and education activities mainly during 2011 – the 50th anniversary year of the opening of the factory and 25th anniversary year of its closure. This includes 59 former workers who have brought the story of the Bathgate Truck and Tractor plant back to life through recording their memories of the industry and its place in their lives in an oral history interview. The Bathgate Once More book is illustrated with photographs from national and local archives and personal items loaned by former workers. 500 copies of the book are being produced for schools, libraries and community centres across West Lothian so that younger generations can learn about the history of their area.
For more information on the WEA's work in Scotland visit WEA Scotland online http://www.weascotland.org.uk/
Bathgate-built tractors are loaded for export (1962) ©The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk