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Travel Back in Time to West Lothian's historic past

A special exhibition aims to give a fascinating insight into local life during Victorian times.

23 October
Pictured cutting the ribbon to open the exhibition is Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick, with left to right, Sheila Menzies, Secretary of Linlithgow Heritage Trust, Heritage Assistant Francis Osis and Heritage Manager Emma Peattie.

Back in Time: West Lothian in the 1880s has been developed by the council's Museums and Archives Service to showcase the contents of a time capsule from nearly 150 years ago.

The capsule was placed on 31 December 1887 as part of the ceremonial laying of the Foundation Stone of the former Victoria Halls in Linlithgow, and contains many fascinating items providing an insight into life in West Lothian during this era.

The free exhibition also focuses on other aspects of community life locally around the time of Queen Victoria's 1887 Jubilee including home life, travel and fashion. It is open in the community space at Linlithgow Museum at Linlithgow Partnership Centre - Tam Dalyell House, High Street, now until 31 March 2024.

Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick was invited to officially open the exhibition at a special preview event recently.

Councillor Fitzpatrick said: "It's a huge honour to open the new Back in Time: West Lothian in the 1880s exhibition at the super Linlithgow Museum.

"The objects on the time capsule are in remarkable condition and their stories give us a real flavour of community life in West Lothian at the time.

"I would encourage anyone with an interest in local history to take the chance to see this superb exhibition while they can."

The time capsule was discovered in 2018 during the demolition of the Victoria Halls, with the contents transferred to council ownership by Treasure Trove earlier this year.

Contents from the time capsule include coins of the era, invitations and information related to the creation of the building and the Foundation Laying ceremony, which was carried out by local MP at the time, Peter McLagan.

Peter McLagan was the first Scottish Member of Parliament of a mixed ethnic background, and the exhibition, which launches during Black History Month, is an opportunity to mark his key role in the local community and in Scottish and British politics.

The exhibition also contains local and national newspapers from the time, which have been conserved thanks to funding from the Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust and the work of the Scottish Conservation studio. 

Among these are copies of the West Lothian Courier, Falkirk Herald and Linlithgow Journal and Bo'ness Journal and Linlithgowshire Advertiser, with F Johnston from the Johnston Press family listed among the subscribers who helped fund the Victoria Halls.