An Edinburgh support worker has launched a local history campaign chronicling the local history of West Lothian in a short video format.

The ‘Our Story, Your Story’ campaign was set up by Alan Kerr to engage the people of West Lothian in their local history by creating short videos telling the story of local towns.

So far, the amateur historian has made videos on the history of Bangour Village Hospital, Torphichen, Livingston, Broxburn, Bathgate, Knights of St John and even the history of The Wallace Stone.

Alan explained why he feels compelled to make videos educating people about their local history, he said:

“While I grew up in Edinburgh, my family is from Newbridge and my wife’s family is from Ratho – so I’ve had family in West Lothian for as long as I can remember.

“After my grandfather died, I worried about all the stories he used to tell me growing up – all the stories he had accumulated throughout his life – what would happen- What about them if I didn’t tell them anything?

“It’s important to me to preserve these stories and tell people that they matter and their story matters.”

A still from Alan’s video of Broxburn and Uphall – pictured, Alan in front of the ‘Tribute to Shale Workers’ mural in Uphall

The next town Alan hopes to tackle in his local history series is Linlithgow, a town steeped in a rich history as old as Scotland itself.

Alan knows this might be his biggest video to date, and that the people of Linlithgow care deeply about their town’s history – so he’s taking his time with it.

Speaking of the reception his campaign has had, he said, “People’s stories are a delicate thing, and you don’t want to do them or the city a disservice.

“I got a lot of positive feedback from people in the towns I traveled, telling me they had no idea about parts of their history – or even telling me even more things than I don’t. didn’t even know!

“I’ve had messages from people in Australia who lived in Bathgate years ago thanking me for taking them on a trip down memory lane – and that’s really what it’s all about for me.

“There’s a lot of working class pride in West Lothian – it’s a place that takes great pride in its community.”

West Lothian is a county steeped in history, ranging from the medieval times of the Knights of St John, to rural farming history, and even more recently with the huge industrial machine that was shale, transforming the very face of our towns and villages.

Alan spoke of his favorite historic moments around West Lothian, he said:

“There’s so much to say – no matter where you’re from, if you dig deep enough you’ll find gold.

“Robert Burns’ eldest daughter is buried in a cast iron grave at Whitburn, and supposedly she and her husband ran the local inn at Whitburn for some time.

“Robert the Bruce’s daughter, Marjory, also lived in Bathgate – that’s why there are so many places in Bathgate called Marjory Way, or Marjory Place.

“My favorite piece of local history however has to be the monument to William Wallace in Almondvale Park.

“It’s just a small headstone-sized stone at the entrance to Broxburn, but it’s the oldest monument to William Wallace in the country, and I guess by proxy in the world.

“I think it shows that no matter where you come from, you have all these historical connections that you may never have heard of.”

In Alan’s videos, he enthusiastically jumps from place to place, telling the local story of the area and pointing out historic features of the architecture and landscape.

Alan then spoke about the importance of learning local history, he said: “I’m not an academic looking through these great historical tomes – I’m dyslexic so it’s important for me to give back local history as accessible as possible. as many people as possible.

“I want to show people that pride in your community is a good thing, that where you come from has substance and that you are only forgotten if you feel forgotten.

“Where we come from, it’s who we are, the story of your city is you, and it connects everyone who lives there.

“Our history and stories reflect our values ​​- no matter where you come from, through history and telling stories we can connect through shared history and civic pride.”

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