March 2021

Scottish Bands-Music.The Bay City Rollers.


The Bay City Rollers are a Scottish pop rock band known for their worldwide teen idol popularity in the 1970s. They have been called the “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh”, and “the first of many acts heralded as the ‘biggest group since the Beatles'”.

The group’s line-up had many changes over the years, but the classic line-up during its heyday included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan Longmuir, and drummer Derek Longmuir. The current lineup since 2018 includes original guitarist Stuart “Woody” Wood, singer Ian Thomson, bassist Marcus Cordock, and drummer Jamie McGrory.

The Bay City Rollers have sold 120 million records worldwide.


Early days and formation: 1966–1973
In 1964, a trio called the Ambassadors was formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, by 16-year-old Alan Longmuir on acoustic guitar, his younger brother Derek Longmuir on drums, and their older cousin Neil Porteous on acoustic guitar. The group never performed publicly under this name, just a family wedding where they covered “Wake Up Little Susie”. They changed their name to the Saxons, and Derek invited a friend from school, Gordon “Nobby” Clark, to be the lead singer. Porteous moved from acoustic to electric guitar, and Alan Longmuir followed suit by changing to electric bass. The Saxons played occasional dance hall concerts while the band members completed their schooling or worked during the day (Alan apprenticed as a plumber). Porteous left the band in July 1965, with new guitarist Dave Pettigrew filling the spot after answering an advertisement placed by the band in an Edinburgh newspaper. Pettigrew was more advanced musically than the others, and pushed the band to improve. Their repertoire included American R&B/pop songs such as “Please Mr. Postman” and “Heat Wave”. They played at least one gig at the Gonk Club as the Deadbeats, but they discovered a conflict: another band was playing locally as Rock Bottom and the Deadbeats.

While taking a technical class at Napier College, Alan met fellow plumbing student Gregory Ellison, who joined the Saxons on electric guitar, with Pettigrew shifting to keyboards. Gregory’s older brother Mike joined as a second lead singer, allowing more complex harmonies, especially useful for the Motown songs they liked to perform. The band convinced Tam Paton, a former big band leader and influential local band and club manager, to audition them at the Longmuirs’ house. Paton booked them for a Thursday night at his club, the Palais, then assigned them to open for the Hipple People at Top Storey. Further gigs followed.

More successful now, the Saxons moved out of the Longmuirs’ back room to practise in Hermiston at a church. They played a couple of contemporary Kinks numbers but favoured American songs, including a new one: “C.C. Rider” by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Desiring a better name for the band, they settled on “Rollers”, but needed a more powerful American-sounding term in front of that. Derek Longmuir threw a dart at a map of the United States, landing first on Arkansas. This did not meet anyone’s approval, so a second dart was thrown. It landed near Bay City, Michigan. The band agreed on the name, the Bay City Rollers. Short-term members from this period included bassist David Paton (from 1969 to 1970) and keyboardist Billy Lyall (1969–71), who went on to be founding members of another Edinburgh band, Pilot.

After signing with Bell Records, the band’s first hit was “Keep on Dancing” (UK No. 9, 1971), a cover of a 1965 hit by the Gentrys. Upon this release’s success, they made appearances on BBC One’s Top of the Pops.

Several non-charting singles were released over the following two years. This period saw the addition of long-term member guitarist Eric Faulkner. In mid-1973, they narrowly missed the UK Singles Chart with their fourth single, “Saturday Night”. By the end of 1973, Clark had become disillusioned with the band’s musical direction and decided to leave just when his recording of “Remember (Sha-La-La-La)” climbed the charts to No. 6. He was replaced as lead singer by Les McKeown. A couple of months later, in early 1974, what became known as the classic line-up was completed; guitarist John Devine was replaced by Stuart “Woody” Wood.

Breakthrough: 1974–1975

In late 1973, McKeown recorded lead vocals on “Remember (Sha-La-La-La)”, and a lead-in to a series of UK chart hits. 16-year-old Stuart Wood completed the “classic five” lineup in February 1974, a week after the band had debuted the “Remember” single on Top of the Pops. (John Devine had mimed the piano part). By early 1975, the band was well on the way to achieving global success. The “classic five” lineup consisted of: Alan Longmuir, Derek Longmuir, Stuart “Woody” Wood, Eric Faulkner and Les McKeown.

Beginning with “Remember” (UK No. 6), the Rollers’ popularity exploded, and they released a string of hits on the UK chart. Following in succession were “Shang-a-Lang” (UK No. 2), “Summerlove Sensation” (UK No. 3), and “All of Me Loves All of You” (UK No. 4).

By early 1975, they were one of the biggest-selling acts in the UK. The successful 1975 UK tour prompted newspaper headlines about the rise of “Rollermania” (a take-off on Beatlemania a decade before). The Rollers were the subject of a 20-week UK television series, Shang-a-Lang.

A cover of the Four Seasons’ “Bye, Bye, Baby” stayed at No. 1 in the UK for six weeks in March and April 1975, selling nearly a million copies and becoming the biggest seller of the year. The subsequent single, “Give a Little Love” topped the charts in July 1975, achieving their second No. 1 hit. Two full-length LPs were produced during this period: Once Upon a Star (1975) and Wouldn’t You Like It? (1975). Faulkner and Wood undertook the majority of the songwriting duties.

By this time, Bay City Roller fans had a completely distinctive style of dress, featuring calf-length tartan trousers and tartan scarves.

English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe wrote a “jaundiced” (in Lowe’s words) paean to the band titled “Bay City Rollers We Love You”. The track was “carefully sculpted” to be poor enough to get Lowe out of a recording contract with United Artists. The strategy backfired. UA issued the record as by the Tartan Horde, which was the name given to Rollers fans in England, and it became a substantial hit in Japan. Lowe was obliged to record a follow-up song called “Rollers Show”, which did not meet with the same commercial success. This follow-up song was included on the US release of Lowe’s first album, Pure Pop for Now People.

World impact: 1976

The Bay City Rollers achieved international success during the 1970s
As the group’s popularity swelled to superstardom in the UK, a concerted effort was made by Arista Records (the record company that evolved from Bell) to launch the Rollers in North America. New Arista head, Clive Davis, was instrumental in grooming and overseeing the project. His work paid off, as in late 1975, the Rollers reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 with “Saturday Night”. “Saturday Night” had missed the UK chart completely two years earlier. The Rollers gave the track their American debut, via a satellite-link performance on Saturday Night Live, with Howard Cosell. In Canada, it fared equally well, hitting No. 1 on the RPM national singles chart on 10 January 1976. The Bay City Rollers (1975) album (North American release only) hit No. 1 in the same chart on 7 February.

A second North American hit came with “Money Honey”, written by Faulkner, which hit No. 9 in the US. In Canada, it fared better, following its predecessor to the top, giving them their second No. 1 in the RPM national singles chart on 13 March 1976.

The North America/Japan release album Rock n’ Roll Love Letter (1976) jumped from No. 25, to the top position, in a single week in Canada. This deposed their own Bay City Rollers (1975) album at No. 1 on the national chart, on 27 March 1976, However, it only managed to achieve the No. 31 spot on the US Billboard chart.

They were also extremely popular in Australia. One example of their popularity, was put into the book about Countdown – the Australian TV music show which ran from 1974 – 1987. Their 1976 appearance on Countdown coincided with a total eclipse of the sun. Director Ted Emery recalled:

(there)… were thousands of kids done up in tartan pants that didn’t reach the top of their shoes, constantly bashing on the plexiglas doors. They would do anything… to get into that television studio. There’s 200 kids bashing on the door and a total eclipse of the sun occurred. I’d never seen one. On this day we all stopped in the studio and the Rollers went up on the roof. We stood out there and watched the flowers close up and all the automatic street lighting come on. It was chilling, the most fantastic thing you’d ever see. Downstairs the kids never turned around, staring into the plexiglas waiting to see the Rollers come out of the studio, go down the corridor and into the canteen. (They) never noticed the total eclipse of the sun.

By early 1976, the strain of success (and the discomfort of being a man in his late 20s in a teen band) had taken its toll on bassist Alan Longmuir, who decided to leave the group. He was replaced for seven months by 17-year-old Ian Mitchell from Northern Ireland; he was the first band member born outside Edinburgh, Scotland. With Mitchell, the group released an album titled Dedication (1976), and hit the charts with a cover version of the Dusty Springfield song, “I Only Want to Be with You. ” The song reached US No. 12, as well as “Yesterday’s Hero” (featuring live material from a 1976 personal appearance in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square), and “Dedication”.


As the Rollers’ popularity waned, the shuffling of personnel continued; Mitchell quit the band. He was replaced by guitarist Pat McGlynn. Further struggles involved the direction of their sound, as the members wished to pursue more sophisticated styles. They settled on David Bowie’s producer, Harry Maslin, and in August 1977 released It’s a Game as a four-piece group, comprising McKeown, Wood, Faulkner and Derek Longmuir. The It’s a Game tour was recorded in 1977 at Japan’s Budokan Hall, and was later released in 2001 as Rollerworld: Live at the Budokan 1977.

On the tour, they covered an unsuccessful 1973 single by String Driven Thing, “It’s a Game” to give them their final UK Top 20 hit (#16 in May 1977). Oddly enough, this single provided them with their highest-charting German hit, reaching No. 4 in the same year. The follow-up “You Made Me Believe in Magic” could only make No. 34 in July in the UK and No. 10 in the US, but this would be their final major success there, too.

New singer, new name
At the end of 1978, the band had split with McKeown, then fired manager Tam Paton shortly after, and decided to continue in a more new wave, rock-oriented sound. Their name was now The Rollers. South African-born Duncan Faure joined the band as new lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. With Faure, the line-up produced three albums: Elevator (1979), Voxx (1980) and Ricochet (1981). Following the expiry of the band’s Arista contract, none of the releases sold as well as expected, and they stopped touring by late 1981.

Thirty-five years after its release, The Federalist described Ricochet as a pop rock masterpiece, demonstrating a maturity in the band’s musical style. The A.V. Club agreed, comparing Ricochet to the pop/new wave style of The Cars, and recommending the album be “rescued from obscurity”.

During the 1980s and 1990s, there were a few short tours. Seven past members played Japan in 1982, and again in 1983. A reunion album, Breakout, was released in Japan and Australia in 1985, and added drummer George Spencer. Breakout was written primarily by McKeown and McGlynn with minor contributions from Faulkner, Wood, and Mitchell.

In the late 1980s, a version of the band called the New Rollers was formed featuring Faulkner on lead vocals, Karen Prosser on vocals, Jason Medvec on guitar, Andy Boakes on bass, and Mark Roberts on drums. The band toured extensively throughout the US and Canada as well as tours of the UK and Australia. This group also released an independent four-song EP titled Party Harty.

In 1990, Wood and Alan Longmuir joined with Faulkner to tour under the Bay City Rollers name, and issued several CDs of re-recordings of the old Roller tunes.

The classic line-up (minus Derek Longmuir) performed a one-off New Year’s Eve millennium concert, the last official Bay City Rollers concert (1999–2000) in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. Interest was rekindled in the UK by various television documentaries about the group; and a new television-advertised compilation of greatest hits, Very Best of the Bay City Rollers, entered the UK Albums Chart, on release in 2004 at No. 11.

On 22 September 2015 the Bay City Rollers, including McKeown, Wood, and Alan Longmuir, announced they were reforming and would play a show at the Glasgow Barrowlands on 20 December.

On 27 February 2018, Wood announced that the new Bay City Rollers would be performing in Tokyo, Japan in June of the same year. The band comprises Wood on guitar, Thomson on lead vocals and guitar, Marcus Cordock on bass, and Jamie McGrory on drums.

Bassist Alan Longmuir died on 2 July 2018 after falling ill while on holiday with his wife in Mexico. His autobiography I Ran with the Gang: My Life in and Out of The Bay City Rollers was published posthumously in November 2018. The book was written with Martin Knight.

On 1 September 2020, Ian Mitchell died at the age of 62 after suffering from throat cancer.

Financial disputes

According to the BBC, the Bay City Rollers sold 120 million records.

In March 2007, six former members of the group (Faure plus the “classic line-up”) announced a lawsuit against Arista Records in hopes of claiming what they described as “tens of millions of dollars” of unpaid royalties. Nobby Clark threatened to sue the other band members if their lawsuit were successful, stating that he was the creative force behind the band’s success, even though he left the group in 1973, before the bulk of their fame and fortune began.

In September 2010, Gordon “Nobby” Clark, Ian Mitchell and Pat McGlynn filed a complaint in the courts, in the United States, against the six members (Faure plus the “classic line-up”), over being excluded from the case against Arista records. Clark, Mitchell and McGlynn were seeking to have their rights determined, and were also seeking financial damages against the other Bay City Rollers, for alleged breach of contract. In 2013 a judge in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the three due to the statute of frauds, which establishes that certain agreements must be in writing under certain conditions, with the appellate judge ruling, “A claim for unjust enrichment must be based on the value of plaintiffs’ contribution to the joint effort of the band at the time it made the relevant records, not on the income stream resulting from a revival over thirty years later.”

In March 2011, a New York judge determined that the Bay City Rollers could move forward with their four-year-old lawsuit against Arista Records. Arista denied responsibility for the majority of the royalties, citing a New York statute of limitations. The statute limits plaintiffs from recovering damages post six years in contract disputes, which therefore would negate the Rollers’ claims for royalties incurred prior to 2001. However, since Arista had continued to promise the Bay City Rollers their royalties, in writing, the judge ruled that the statute was not applicable.

After almost a decade, the legal battle came to an end with an out-of-court settlement in 2016. Arista Records’ parent company, Sony Music, is believed to have paid $3.5 million, with each band member receiving £70,000.

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Kings-Queens of Scotland. David II

David II (5 March 1324 – 22 February 1371) was King of Scotland for nearly 42 years, from 1329 until his death in 1371. He was the last male of the House of Bruce. Although David spent long periods in exile or captivity, he managed to ensure the survival of his kingdom and left the Scottish monarchy in a strong position.

Early life

David II was the eldest and only surviving son of Robert I of Scotland and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. He was born on 5 March 1324 at Dunfermline Abbey, Fife. His mother died in 1327, when he was 3 years old. In accordance with the Treaty of Northampton’s terms, on 17 July 1328, when he was 4, David was married to 7 year old Joan of the Tower, at Berwick-upon-Tweed. She was the daughter of Edward II of England and Isabella of France. They had no issue.


David became King of Scots upon the death of his father on 7 June 1329. David and his wife were crowned at Scone on 24 November 1331.

During David’s minority, Sir Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray, was appointed Guardian of Scotland by the Act of Settlement of 1318. After Moray’s death, on 20 July 1332, he was replaced by Donald, Earl of Mar, elected by an assembly of the magnates of Scotland at Perth, 2 August 1332. Only ten days later Mar fell at the Battle of Dupplin Moor. Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, who was married to Christian (or Christina), the sister of King Robert I, was chosen as the new Guardian. He was taken prisoner by the English at Roxburgh in April 1333 and was thence replaced as Guardian by Archibald Douglas (the Tyneman), who fell at the Battle of Halidon Hill that July.

Meanwhile, on 24 September 1332, following the Scots’ defeat at Dupplin, Edward Balliol, a protégé of Edward III of England, and a pretender to the throne of Scotland, was crowned by the English and his Scots adherents. By December, however, Balliol was forced to flee to England after the Battle of Annan, although he returned the following year as part of an invasion force led by the English king.

Exile in France

Following the English victory at the Battle of Halidon Hill in July 1333, David and his wife were sent for safety into France, reaching Boulogne on 14 May 1334. They were received very graciously by King Philip VI. Little is known about the life of the Scottish king in France, except that Château Gaillard was given to him for a residence, and that he was present at the bloodless meeting of the English and French armies in October 1339 at Vironfosse, now known as Buironfosse, in the Arrondissement of Vervins.

By 1341, David’s representatives had once again obtained the upper hand in Scotland. David was able to return to his kingdom, landing at Inverbervie in Kincardineshire on 2 June 1341. He took the reins of government into his own hands, at the age of 17.

Captivity in England

David II, king of Scotland, acknowledges Edward III, king of England, as his feudal lord.
In 1346, under the terms of the Auld Alliance, David invaded England in the interests of the French, who were at war with the English in Normandy. After initial success at Hexham, David was wounded, and his army soundly defeated at the Battle of Neville’s Cross on 17 October 1346. David was captured and taken prisoner by Sir John de Coupland, who imprisoned him in the Tower of London. David was transferred to Windsor Castle in Berkshire upon the return of Edward III from France. The depiction of David being presented to King Edward III in the play The Reign of King Edward the Third is fictitious. David and his household were later moved to Odiham Castle in Hampshire. His imprisonment was not reputed to be a rigorous one, although he remained captive in England for eleven years.

On 3 October 1357, after several protracted negotiations with the Scots’ regency council, a treaty was signed at Berwick-upon-Tweed under which Scotland’s nobility agreed to pay 100,000 marks, at the rate of 10,000 marks per year, as a ransom for their king. This was ratified by the Scottish Parliament at Scone on 6 November 1357.

Return to Scotland

David II (left) and Edward III (right)

David returned at once to Scotland, bringing with him a mistress, Katherine (or Catherine) Mortimer, of whom little is known. This was an unpopular move, and Katherine was murdered in 1360 by men hired by the Earl of Angus and other nobles, according to some sources; the Earl was then starved to death. She was replaced as mistress by Margaret Drummond.

After six years, owing to the poverty of the kingdom, it was found impossible to raise the ransom instalment of 1363. David then made for London and sought to get rid of the liability by offering to bequeath Scotland to Edward III, or one of his sons, in return for a cancellation of the ransom. David did this with the full awareness that the Scots would never accept such an arrangement. In 1364, the Scottish parliament indignantly rejected a proposal to make Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the next king. Over the next few years, David strung out secret negotiations with Edward III, which apparently appeased the matter.

His wife, Queen Joan, died on 7 September 1362 (aged 41) at Hertford Castle, Hertfordshire, possibly a victim of the Black Death. He remarried, on about 20 February 1364, Margaret Drummond, widow of Sir John Logie, and daughter of Sir Malcolm Drummond. He divorced her on about 20 March 1370. They had no children. Margaret, however, travelled to Avignon, and made a successful appeal to the Pope Urban V to reverse the sentence of divorce which had been pronounced against her in Scotland. She was still alive in January 1375, four years after David died.

From 1364, David governed actively, dealing firmly with recalcitrant nobles, and a wider baronial revolt, led by his prospective successor, the future Robert II. David continued to pursue the goal of a final peace with England. At the time of his death, the Scottish monarchy was stronger and the country was “a free and independent kingdom” according to a reliable source. The royal finances were more prosperous than might have seemed possible.


King David II of Scotland married several times and had several mistresses, but none of his relationships produced children.

1) Joan of England was David’s 1st wife. They married on 17 July 1328, when he was 4 years old and Joan was 7. Joan was the daughter of King Edward II of England and Isabella of France. The marriage was in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Northampton. David and Joan were married for 34 years but produced no children. Queen Joan died on 7 September 1362 (aged 41) at Hertford Castle, Hertfordshire, possibly a victim of the Black Death.

2) Margaret Drummond was the widow of Sir John Logie, and daughter of Sir Malcolm Drummond. Margaret was David’s mistress before the death of Queen Joan, from about 1361. David and Margaret married on 20 February 1364. Still producing no heirs, David attempted to divorce Margaret on 20 March 1370, on the grounds that she was infertile. Pope Urban V, however, reversed the divorce. When David died on 22 February 1371, Margaret and David were still actually married, according to Rome. Margaret died sometime after 31 January 1375, and her funeral was paid for by Pope Gregory XI.

3) Agnes Dunbar was David’s mistress at the time of his death. He was planning to marry her, however, the marriage was delayed by the reversal of his divorce to Margaret.


David II died unexpectedly, and at the height of his power, in Edinburgh Castle on 22 February 1371. He was buried in Holyrood Abbey. The funeral was overseen by Abbot Thomas. He left no children and was succeeded by his nephew, Robert II, the son of David’s half-sister Marjorie Bruce. David II was the last male of the House of Bruce.

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Scottish Towns-Cities.(Livingston.)

Livingston (Scots: Leivinstoun, Scottish Gaelic: Baile Dhunlèibhe) is the largest town in West Lothian, Scotland. Designated in 1962, it is the fourth post-war new town to be built in Scotland. Taking its name from a village of the same name incorporated into the new town, it was originally developed in the then-counties of Midlothian and West Lothian. It is situated approximately fifteen miles (25 km) west of Edinburgh and thirty miles (48 km) east of Glasgow, and is close to the towns of Broxburn to the north-east and Bathgate to the north-west.

The town was built around a collection of small villages, Livingston Village, Bellsquarry and Livingston Station (now part of Deans). It has a number of residential precincts or areas. These include Craigshill, Howden, Ladywell, Knightsridge, Deans, Dedridge, Murieston, Almondvale, Eliburn, Kirkton and Adambrae. There are several large industrial estates in Livingston, including Houston industrial estate, Brucefield Industrial Estate, Alba Business Park, and Kirkton Campus. The locality of Livingston as defined by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) includes Uphall Station and Pumpherston. The wider urban settlement, also as defined by the GROS, also includes Mid Calder and East Calder. Other neighbouring villages include: Kirknewton, Polbeth and West Calder. The 2001 UK Census reported that the town had a population of 50,826. The 2011 UK Census showed the population of Livingston had increased to 56,269. Livingston is the second-largest settlement in the Lothians after Edinburgh. Until 1963, the area surrounding the ancient village of Livingston was open farmland, and the ancient village is now called Livingston Village.

Livingston old Kirk is one of the oldest buildings in Livingston, dating from 1732. It was part of the original Livingston village settlement.

Livingston is first mentioned in an early 12th-century charter as Villa Levingi (Leving’s town). In 1128 David I granted the newly founded Abbey of Holyrood control of the church at Livingston and its income in a charter that was witnessed by Turstani filii Levingi (Thurstan Levingsson). He built a fortified tower (Livingston Peel) which no longer survives. The settlement that grew up around it became known as Levingstoun, Layingston and eventually fixed at Livingston. The Leving family controlled the area until dying out in 1512. From 1512 until 1671 the tower house was occupied by the Murrays of Elibank. In 1670, the Edinburgh botanic garden was founded by Dr. Robert Sibbald and Dr. Andrew Balfour using the plant collection from the Elibank private gardens of Sir Patrick Murray, 2nd Lord Elibank, following his death in September 1671. In the late 17th century, the Peel was demolished and replaced by a house called Livingston Place. The estate eventually passed from the Murray family to the Cunningham family and it was eventually acquired by the Earl of Rosebery in 1828 and demolished in 1840. The area of the former gardens and house is now a local garden and park, named Peel park. The formal layout and planting in the park reflect the historic gardens, and a new peel mound and moat was recreated to reflect the earlier history.

The area around Livingston was historically an important shale oil area, and the world’s first oil boom occurred in West Lothian. This was based on oil extracted from shale, and by 1870 over 3 million tons of shale were being mined each year in the area around Livingston. Output declined with the discovery of liquid oil reserves around the world in the early 1900s, but shale mining only finally ceased in 1962. The “bings” that characterise oil shale mining in West Lothian have largely been flattened. Two shale bings nearby are scheduled monuments – Five Sisters and Greendykes.

By 1898, the main Livingston village was recorded as having several houses, a mill, a Church of Scotland church, a United Free church, a school and a coaching inn. The oldest church, Livingston Old Kirk, in its current form, dates from 1732 and is an example of plain Presbetryrian architecture from the Georgian period. It stands on the site of a pre-Reformation church which appears to have stood on the site from c.1350 to 1650. The nearby coaching inn was built in 1760 and the poet Robert Burns is said to have been a guest. The nearby Livingston Mill was also built around the same date, in 1770 although there is evidence that suggests there may have been a mill on the site since the 14th or 15th century. Around 1 mile north of Livingston village, there was a railway station with a smaller settlement called Livingston Station which is now part of Deans. Livingston station was built as a settlement to serve the workforce and their families of the nearby Deans Oil Works, owned by the Pumpherston Oil Company. Livingston Station had six streets with homes, as well as a store, a small church and a works institute. The original Livingston railway station was operated by the Edinburgh and Bathgate Railway and opened on 12 November 1849. British Railways closed the station on 1 November 1948 following the ending of passenger services on the line. In the 1980s a site was chosen for a new railway station on the line to the east of the original station and Livingston North station opened on 24 March 1986, concurrent with the re-introduction of passenger services. The Livingston Village and Livingston Station settlements were both subsequently incorporated into Livingston new town in the 20th century.

New Town

Illustrative New Town architecture in Deans. Much of the town includes architecture from the 1960s and 1970s.

The Logo of Livingston Development Corporation (LDC). The LDC guided the creation of the new town from 1962 to 1997.
Under the New Towns Act of 1946 and in part to ease overcrowding in Glasgow, Livingston was designated as a New Town on 16 April 1962. Livingston was the fourth new town of five in Scotland; the others were East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Cumbernauld and Irvine. Three villages (Livingston Village and Livingston Station in the old parish of Livingston and Bellsquarry in the parish of Mid Calder) and numerous farmsteads were incorporated into the Livingston new town. Published in July 1962, the first edition of the Livingston plan designated new areas for housing for up to 100,000 people, as well as areas for new industry and offices, marked by new roads, pathways and recreational spaces, under an 84 square mile survey led by Professors Donald Robertson and Sir Robert Matthew. Many of the initial houses were factory-built. A subsequent edition to the plan was published in 1966 with Livingston intended as the centre of a new population area of up to 250,000 persons in the Lothians.

In order to build, manage and promote Livingston, a quango organisation was formed, the Livingston Development Corporation (LDC). Sir David Lowe, a local large scale farmer and businessman, was appointed chairman. Following designation of the new town, the first building begun was the Corporation’s own offices in 1963. Residential construction began in 1962 with the first homes to be built as part of the new town being constructed in Deans (to house corporation employees and construction workers). The first major development of the new town took place in Craigshill, with the first people moving into the newly built housing areas of Livingston in April 1964. The construction of the areas of Howden, Ladywell and Knightsridge began in the late 1960s and this was followed in the 1970s by the creation of Dedrige and further development of Deans. Some of the first prominent buildings in the new town built in these decades included Riverside Primary School (the first primary school built in the new town in April 1966), the new towns first public house (the Tower in Craigshill built in 1968), Craigshill school (the first secondary school built in the new town in 1969), and the ‘Centre’ (Livingstons shopping centre) built in 1977.

On 9 November 1979 the Livingston UFO Incident took place, when Robert Taylor, employed by the Livingston Development Corporation, is said to have encountered a UFO on Dechmont Law and the incident was subsequently investigated by Lothian and Borders Police. It is the only UFO incident that was part of a criminal investigation in the United Kingdom.

In 1984 a new railway station was built for the town the Shotts Line called Livingston South which was shortly followed by another station Livingston North on the redeveloped Edinburgh to Bathgate Line in 1986. These stations replaced the former Livingston and Newpark stations which had closed before the construction of the town.

In 1995 Livingston gained its professional football team, Livingston F.C. which was essentially the relocation of Meadowbank Thistle F.C. from Edinburgh.

The Livingston Development Corporation guided Livingston until its mandate expired on 22 March 1997 and the town was transferred to the West Lothian Council. The last major construction operation carried out by the LDC was the Almondvale Stadium. Housing development continues under West Lothian Council, through private developers such as Barratt Developments and Bellway, and under the management of housing associations such as the Almond Housing Association and the West Lothian Housing Partnership.

Livingston is the 8th largest settlement and the 3rd largest town in Scotland. It is also the 171st largest settlement in the United Kingdom. It lies 30 miles away from Glasgow and 15 miles from Edinburgh.

The Livingston new town was planned so that the River Almond, the namesake of the Almondvale district, runs through the town centre.

Outer Livingston districts include Wester Dechmont, Deans (including the Deans Industrial Estate), Kirkton and Houston to the north, Craigshill to the east, Bellsquarry (including the Brucefield Industrial Estate) and Murieston to the south, and Adambrae and Kirkton Campus to the east of the town. Craigshill takes its name from the Scottish Gaelic word for the slopes of a hill.

Inner central districts in the town include Almondvale, Livingston Village, Eliburn, Howden, Ladywell, Knightsridge, Dedridge. Ladywell takes its name from a historic well that was dedicated to Mary and was said to have been used by medieval Scottish Kings as a site for a yearly Royal touching ceremony.

The geology of Livingston is similar to that of West Lothian in general, chracterised by former glacial history and composed of Till. This includes areas of clay, sand, silt and gravel, primarily along the Almond river valley environment. Parts of Livingston also have isolated areas of carboniferous sedimentary rocks (primarily in and around the Deans area of the town) which were worked and extracted for shale oil in the 19th and 20th centuries. The oldest rocks are classified as part of the Inverclyde Group (primarily located in the south-east of Livingston between Linhouse Water and Kirknewton). There are also several areas of underlying sandstone in Livingston which were used as local quarries, now since defunct, including Dedridge quarry, refilled and landscaped as a local park (Quarry Froggy Park). Bellsquarry originates from a former Burdiehouse Limestone quarry and the surname of its owner, Mr Bell. The quarry was in operation by 1782 and continued until the early 20th century, when it was used as a rubbish dump before being tidied and covered.

Until the development of the new town, except for localised industry in areas such as Deans, the area was primarily agricultural, with farming focused on the alluvial soils of the Almond river. The area is now primarily an urban area although as a new town, Livingston is characterised by large areas of forested paths, public parks and open spaces. Forested areas in Livingston include Livingston Old Wood (38.97 acres) in Eliburn, the Wilderness in Adambrae (45.91 acres), Bellsquarry Wood (43.86 acres), Kirkton Woods (15.64 acres), Linhouse Glen, and Calder Woods (on the boundary with East Calder).

Areas of Livingston, West Lothian
Destinations from Livingston

Tesco’s Distribution Centre for Scotland and Northern Ireland between Livingston and Bathgate
The area where Livingston now sits was historically dominated by oil shale mining, which is evident from the bings which still exist on much of the surrounding landscape. The designation of Livingston as a new town in the 1960s attracted new light industries to the area, with high technology and pharmaceutical companies moving into the town. Livingston formed a major hub in Scotland’s Silicon Glen with factories constructed in purpose-build business parks at Houston Industrial Estate and at Kirkton Campus. Like most other areas this went into a slow decline from the late 1990s with the closures of companies including Motorola and NEC. Several multi-national companies still have factories in the town, including Wyman Gordon who manufacturer aircraft components on the Houston Industrial Estate. Other companies on the Houston Industrial Estate include Mitsubishi Electric (who have an electric air conditioning factory which produces almost 150,000 air conditioning and heat pump units every year), Paterson Arran (a food manufacturer whose bakery, the Royal Burgh Bakery is located in Livingston), and DS Smith (who have a box production plant on the estate).

From the 1970s, Kirkton Campus on the western edge of the town was developed as Scotland’s first technology science park. Developed for private businesses by the LDC, it included 300 acres of landscaped offices and factory sites along the Killandean Burn and River Almond. While several factories have since closed, it is still home to several businesses, including Sky UK who is one of the largest private sector employers in Livingston with a range of offices and their biggest UK contact centre at Kirkton Campus. Other companies at Kirkton Campus include Merck (a pharmaceutical company), Gore W L & Associates (a clothes manufacturer), SCION Instruments (a chromatography and gas detector manufacturer), JPT Foodtech, and Palletways (a distribution service who have a 50,000 sq ft hub facility).

Össur Offices in Alba Business Park, Livingston.

Other large employers include Tesco (whose distribution centre for Scotland and Northern Ireland is located on the northern edge of the town), Schuch (whose head office and customer service centre is on the Deans Industrial Estate in Livingston), Shin-Etsu Europe (who have a manufacturing facility in Livingston that produces semiconductors), those in the retail sector in the shopping centres, supermarkets, and the health care sector such as NHS Scotland. Witherby Seamanship, established in 1740, is one of the oldest publishers in the United Kingdom and their offices and warehouse is located in Livingston at Navigation House. Valneva SE is a biotech company that has a manufacturing facility in Livingston which produces vaccines, including a vaccine against COVID-19.

The Brucefield Industrial Estate is located west of Bellsquarry and includes companies such as Diet Chef (a food manufacturer), ScoMac (a catering equipment manufacturer), and Snag tights (a textile manufacturer based in Livingston that exports to 90 countries).

Alba Business Park is located in Livingston to the west of Adambrae and includes a technology innovation centre. Companies in the Alba Business Park include Glenmorangie, the whisky distillers, who have offices and a bottling facility that was opened in 2011. Quintiles IMS, a healthcare data provider, have a large office in the business park. The prosthetic company Össur (Touch Bionics) has a research and development facility in the park.

Town centre

Almondvale Boulevard in the centre of Livingston is a road connecting the large shopping centres of the town and runs parallel to the river Almond.

Livingston town centre sits on the southern edge of the Almond Valley and provides shops and services for the surrounding area. It is bounded by a ring road to the east and has been purposely planned, distinguishing it from many other town centres. Howden Park is located immediately north of the town centre and adjoins Howden House, an 18th century house which contains an arts centre and private housing. The south western edge of the town centre is dominated by retail parks. Livingston’s town centre also contains a large number of offices. Private sector offices are also concentrated at the eastern and western edges of the centre and along the Almondvale Boulevard. Other facilities in the centre include: hotels, a swimming pool and local authority gym, and restaurants and pubs. Almondvale Football Stadium and West Lothian College are located at the north western edge of the town centre.

The Livingston Civic Centre was completed in June 2009 and officially opened by then-First Minister Alex Salmond on 25 November 2009. The Civic Centre is located just north of The Centre on the bank of the River Almond. It was home to the divisional headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police until the creation of Police Scotland in 2013, as well as the sheriff and justice of the peace, West Lothian Council, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service and the West Lothian Community Health and Care Partnership.

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Kings-Queens of Scotland. Giric mac Dungail.

Giric mac Dúngail (Modern Gaelic: Griogair mac Dhunghail; fl. c. 878–889), known in English simply as Giric and nicknamed Mac Rath (“Son of Fortune”), was a king of the Picts or the king of Alba. The Irish annals record nothing of Giric’s reign, nor do Anglo-Saxon writings add anything, and the meagre information which survives is contradictory. Modern historians disagree as to whether Giric was sole king or ruled jointly with Eochaid, on his ancestry, and if he should be considered a Pictish king or the first king of Alba.

Although little is now known of Giric, he appears to have been regarded as an important figure in Scotland in the High Middle Ages and the Late Middle Ages. Scots chroniclers such as John of Fordun, Andrew of Wyntoun, Hector Boece and the humanist scholar George Buchanan wrote of Giric as “King Gregory the Great” and told how he had conquered half of England and Ireland too.

The Chronicle of Melrose and some versions of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba say that Giric died at Dundurn in Strathearn.

Giric’s name

Giric’s name is associated with that of St Cyricus, who, as a small child, was martyred along with his mother during the Diocletianic persecution in the early fourth century. According to the Chronicles of the Kings of Scotland, St Cyricus was Giric’s patron saint, not only because his name is homophonous with the Latin form of the saint’s name, Ciricum, but also because the first church dedicated to St Cyricus was established during Giric’s reign at a place called Ecclesgrieg (now St. Cyrus) in Aberdeenshire. The saint’s feast day is 16 June, and on (or near) that day in 885 there was a solar eclipse, which has become associated with the kingship of Giric and Eochaid, inasmuch as not long after the occasion of the eclipse, the two “were expelled from the kingdom.”

Relationship between Giric and Eochaid

Various theories have been put forward regarding the relationship between Eochaid and Giric, who by all accounts was the elder of the two. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, which was written in Latin, used the phrase alumnus ordinatorque to describe Giric’s relationship to Eochaid. Translator T. H. Weeks chose to translate that phrase into English as “teacher and prime minister”, yet in the same section offered “foster-son” for alumnus, translating “Eochodius, cum alum(p)no suo, expulsus est nunc de regno” as “Eochaid with his ‘foster-son’ was then thrown out of the kingdom”.

There is a tendency in popular history books and web sites to refer to the two as “cousins” or “first cousins once removed”.

However, this cousin kinship is only speculation since the ancestry of Giric is obscure. Rhun, the father of Eochaid, is known to have been “a king of the Britons”, but little is known of Dungal, the father of Giric, which may be the reason for the speculation that he (Dungal) did not have royal lineage. Perhaps a writer for the popular web site Undiscovered Scotland found the best solution, referring to Giric as Eochaid’s “rather shadowy kinsman”.

Two scholars have defined the two in political rather than kinship terms. A. Weeks, commentator, speculated, “Possibly Giric was not of royal blood, so he used Eochaid as a puppet.” In 1904, Sir John Rhys, professor at Oxford, reached a similar conclusion, positing that “the real relation in which Girg probably stood to Eochaid was that of a non Celtic king of Pictish descent wielding the power of the Pictish nation with Eochaid ruling among the Brythons of Fortrenn more or less subject to him.” What is known of the two is that in 878 Giric killed Aed (uncle of Eochaid) “in battle” in the town of Nrurim, which was probably north of Stirling. Then Giric and Eochaid, whatever their relationship, ruled jointly for eleven years.

Son of Fortune

… the Son of Fortune shall come; he shall rule over Alba as one Lord.
The Britons will be low in his time; high will be Alba of melodious boats.
Pleasant to my heart and my body is what my spirit tells me:
The rule of the Son of Fortune in his land in the east will cast misery from Scotland.

Seventeen years (in fortresses of valour) in the sovereignty of Scotland.
He will have in bondage in his house Saxons, Foreigners, and Britons.
The Prophecy of Berchán.
The Prophecy of Berchán, an 11th-century verse history of Scots and Irish kings presented as a prophecy, is a notably difficult source. As the Prophecy refers to kings by epithets, but never by name, linking it to other materials is not straightforward. The Prophecy is believed to refer to Giric by the epithet Mac Rath, “the Son of Fortune”.

The entry on Giric in the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba is perhaps corrupt. It states:

And Eochaid, son of Run, the king of the Britons [of Strathclyde, and] grandson of Kenneth by his daughter reigned for eleven years; although other say that Giric, the son of another, reigned at this time, because he became Eochaid’s foster-father and guardian.
And in [Eochaid’s] second year, Áed, Niall’s son, died; and his ninth year, on the very day of [St] Cyricus, an eclipse of the sun occurred. Eochaid with his foster-father was now expelled from the kingdom.

Kenneth is Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín); Áed, Niall’s son is Áed Findliath, who died on 20 November 879; and St Cyrus’s day was 16 June, on which day a solar eclipse occurred in 885.

Gregory the Great

By the 12th century, Giric had acquired legendary status as liberator of the Scottish church from Pictish oppression and, fantastically, as conqueror of Ireland and most of England. As a result, Giric was known as Gregory the Great. This tale appears in the variant of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba which is interpolated in Andrew of Wyntoun’s Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland. Here Giric, or Grig, is named “Makdougall”, son of Dúngal.

List “D”, which may be taken as typical, contains this account of Giric:

Giric, Dungal’s son, reigned for twelve years; and he died in Dundurn, and was buried in Iona. He subdued to himself all Ireland, and nearly [all] England; and he was the first to give liberty to the Scottish church, which was in servitude up to that time, after the custom and fashion of the Picts.

Giric’s conquests appear as Bernicia, rather than Ireland (Hibernia), in some versions. William Forbes Skene saw a connection between this and the account in the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto which claims that soon after the death of King Halfdan, the Northumbrians and the Northmen united under King Guthfrith to defeat a Scots invasion.

This account is not found in the Poppleton Manuscript. The lists known as “D”, “F”, “I”, “K”, and “N”, contain a different version, copied by the Chronicle of Melrose.

Ut regem nostrum Girich

In a recent discussion of the “Dunkeld Litany”, which was largely fabricated in Schottenklöster in Germany in late Medieval and Early Modern times, Thomas Owen Clancy offers the provisional conclusion that, within the emendations and additions, there lies an authentic 9th century Litany. The significance of this Litany for the question of Giric’s authenticity and kingship is contained in a prayer for the king and the army, where the king named is Giric:

Ut regem nostrum Girich cum exercito suo ab omnibus inimicorum insiidis tuearis et defendas, te rogamus audi nos.

He shall rule over Alba as one Lord

A.A.M. Duncan argues that the association of Giric and Eochaid in the kingship is spurious, that Giric alone was king of the Picts, which he claimed as the son of daughter of Kenneth MacAlpin, and that the report that he was Eochaid’s guardian (alumpnus) is a misreading of uncle (auunculus). A.P. Smyth proposed that Giric was a nephew of Kenneth MacAlpin, the son of his brother Donald MacAlpin (Domnall mac Ailpín), which appears to rest on what is probably a scribal error. The entry also states that an otherwise unknown Causantín, son of Domnaill (or of Dúngail) was king. Finally, Benjamin Hudson has suggested that Giric, rather than being a member of Cenél nGabráin dynasty of Kenneth MacAlpin and his kin, was a member of the northern Cenél Loairn-descended dynasty of Moray, and accepts the existence of Giric’s brother Causantín.

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Infamous Scots. “Bible John”.


Bible John is an unidentified serial killer who is believed to have murdered three young women between 1968 and 1969 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Each of the victims of Bible John were young brunette women between the ages of 25 and 32, and all had met their murderer at the Barrowland Ballroom: a dance hall and music venue in the city. The perpetrator has never been identified and the case remains both unsolved and also one of the most extensive manhunts in Scottish criminal history.

The murders committed by Bible John would prove to be the first time in Scotland in which the Crown Office authorised the publication of a composite drawing of an individual suspected of murder for public viewing.

This unidentified serial killer became known as “Bible John” due to his having repeatedly quoted from the Bible and to have condemned any form of adultery while in the company of his final victim. The known movements and modus operandi of convicted serial killer and rapist Peter Tobin have given rise to suspicions that he may be Bible John.

Extensive door-to-door inquiries in the area produced a witness who recalled hearing a female scream, “Leave me alone!” the previous evening. Little hard evidence was discovered at the crime scene. Nonetheless, an ambulanceman who retrieved the body informed investigators the victim had been a nurse who worked at Mearnskirk Hospital in nearby Renfrewshire. Consequently, the victim was formally identified by her father the following day.

Docker was a married mother of one but estranged from her husband. The night of her murder, she informed her parents she would spend the evening dancing at the Majestic Ballroom in nearby Hope Street, although for unknown reasons, she had chosen to spend the majority of the evening at the Barrowland Ballroom, likely to attend the over-25s night which the venue hosted each Thursday. When she failed to return home that evening, her parents assumed she had spent the night with a friend. Police inquiries would only determine several days later that in the late evening, Docker had left the Majestic Ballroom to attend the Barrowland, where she had likely encountered her killer.

A postmortem conducted by Gilbert Forbes at the University of Glasgow Medical School confirmed that the cause of death had been strangulation, and that Docker’s body bore no clear evidence of sexual assault. Furthermore, the stage of rigor mortis upon her body at the time of discovery indicated she had likely died shortly after she had left the Barrowland Ballroom. Investigators surmised the perpetrator had likely grabbed Docker before repeatedly punching her and kicking her in the face as she twice screamed, “Leave me alone!” He had then proceeded to rape Docker before strangling her to death, and leaving her naked body, with nothing but one shoe nearby, close to the doorway of the lock-up garage at Carmichael Place.

Jemima McDonald

On Saturday, 16 August 1969, a 32-year-old mother of three named Jemima McDonald also opted to attend the Barrowland Ballroom to spend the evening dancing. McDonald was a regular attendee of the Barrowland, and as per family custom, her sister, Margaret O’Brien, took care of her three children in her absence. As midnight approached, McDonald was seen by several people in the company of a young, well-dressed and well-spoken man of slim build aged between 25 and 35 and between 6 ft 0 in and 6 ft 2 in (180 and 190 cm) in height. This individual had short, dark brown hair with fair streaks, likely spoke with a distinctive Glaswegian accent, and occasionally inserted brief biblical quotations into his conversation.

McDonald was seen leaving the Barrowland shortly after midnight on 17 August in the company of this individual, and was last seen walking towards either Main Street or Landressy Street, in the direction of her home, at approximately 12:40 a.m. O’Brien became concerned when her sister failed to return home. Later the same day, she began hearing local rumours that young children had been seen leaving a derelict tenement building in MacKeith Street discussing a body in the premises. By the Monday morning, O’Brien was so concerned that she herself, fearing the worst, walked into the old building. There she discovered her own sister’s extensively battered body lying face down, with her shoes and stockings lying beside her.

A postmortem concluded McDonald had been raped and extensively beaten, particularly about the face, before she had been strangled to death with one of her own stockings. Her murder had occurred approximately thirty hours before her body had been discovered. Unlike Docker, the body of McDonald was fully clothed, although her underclothing had been torn, and like Docker, she had been menstruating at the time of her death.

Police inquiries into McDonald’s movements on the night of her murder produced several eyewitnesses who were able to accurately describe the man with whom she had been in the company of at the Barrowland. Door-to-door inquiries on MacKeith Street also produced a woman who remembered hearing female screams on the evening of McDonald’s murder, although this individual could not recall the precise time. Consequently, police considered this information of little use to their inquiry.

Initial investigation

Although the City of Glasgow Police noted several striking similarities between the murders of Docker and McDonald, including that both women had attended the Barrowland Ballroom on the evening of their murder, been beaten before being strangled to death with a ligature, were menstruating, and had their handbags taken from the crime scene, initially both murders were not considered to be the work of the same perpetrator.

Despite extensive public appeals, the investigation into the murder of Docker had quickly become a cold case. Police had little information, owing to both a lack of witnesses and hard evidence. The investigation had also been severely hindered by investigators discovering three days after her death that Docker had attended the Barrowland on the evening of her murder. Eighteen months later, following the discovery of McDonald, police became aware of remarkable similarities to the murder of Docker. Although police did not conclusively link both murders to the same perpetrator, they could not completely discount this theory. In addition, police were certain the perpetrator(s) held a high degree of local geographical knowledge. However, they may have been a stranger to the district, as none of the eyewitnesses with whom investigators conversed directly knew the man or men seen in the company of either woman prior to her murder.

The Barrowland Ballroom, seen here in 2011. Each of the women murdered are believed to have encountered Bible John at this dance hall.

For the first time in a Scottish murder hunt, a composite drawing of the man with whom Jemima had last been seen alive was given to the press, being widely distributed via both newspapers and upon television throughout Scotland in efforts to identify the suspect. Moreover, both male and female undercover police officers performed discreet surveillance at the Barrowland Ballroom in efforts to identify the suspect. Police surveillance at the Barrowland Ballroom would be terminated in late October 1969 due to the initiative failing to produce any suspects. Detectives were also blamed by proprietors for a sharp decrease in attendance figures.

Helen Puttock

On 31 October 1969, a man walking his dog discovered the body of 29-year-old Helen Puttock behind a tenement in the Scotstoun district of Glasgow. Her body was found beside a drainpipe in the back garden of her Earl Street flat. She had been stripped partially naked, extensively beaten about the face before being raped, then strangled to death with one of her own stockings. The contents of her handbag had been scattered close to her body, although the handbag itself was missing from the crime scene. Grass and weed stains upon the soles of Helen’s feet and shoes indicated that she had engaged in a ferocious struggle with her killer. She had evidently at one point attempted to scale a nearby railway embankment. Her body also bore a deep bite mark on her upper right thigh. As had been the case with the two previous victims, Helen had been menstruating at the time of her murder. Her murderer had placed her sanitary towel beneath her left arm.

The evening prior to her murder, Helen and her sister, Jean Langford, had been to the Barrowland Ballroom, where both had become acquainted with men named John. One of these individuals had said he worked as a slater who resided in Castlemilk, while the other individual had been a well-spoken man who did not disclose where he actually lived. After being in the company of these two individuals for in excess of an hour, all four left the Barrowland to head home. The individual named John who had been Jean’s dance partner walked to George Square to board a bus, while Jean, Helen, and the individual who had been Helen’s dance partner hailed a taxi. The trio set off from Glasgow Cross, making a 20-minute westward journey toward Jean’s Knightswood residence. There she exited the taxi, which then continued towards Helen’s Scotstoun residence. During conversations between the trio upon this journey, most of the crucial information pertaining to the killer’s psychological profile became apparent.

Jean later informed detectives that her sister’s companion had been a teetotal individual who repeatedly quoted from the Old Testament stories of Moses during the time she and her sister had conversed with him in the taxi. He had also referred to the Barrowland as an “adulterous den of iniquity”, and of his disapproval of married women visiting the premises as the quartet had retrieved their coats at the end of the evening. She had herself alighted the taxi at Kelso Street, before viewing the taxi turn towards Earl Street.


The suspect was described by Helen’s sister Jean as being a tall, slim and well-dressed young man with reddish or fair hair rounded neatly at the back, aged between 25 and 30, and approximately 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) in height. This individual had given his name as either “John Templeton”, “John Sempleson”, or “John Emerson”, and he had been a polite and well-spoken individual, having frequently quoted from the Old Testament during the trio’s taxi ride home, although he had indicated he was neither a Catholic nor Protestant individual. Jean would also state to investigators it had become increasingly clear to her as the trio had ridden in the taxi that this individual had considered her presence in the vehicle to be an inconvenience. At one point during this ride, this individual had explained to the women the reason he refrained from consuming alcohol was due to his being conditioned so by a strict parental attitude, before adding: “I don’t drink at Hogmanay; I pray.” He had also alluded to his father’s belief that dance halls were “dens of iniquity”, with any married woman who frequented these premises being “adulterous” by nature.

Although Jean Langford had informed detectives that the man accompanying Helen had been a “slim, tall” individual who had been dressed in a well-cut brown Reid and Taylor brand suit who smoked Embassy cigarettes, she also recalled this individual mentioning that he had been familiar with several drinking premises in the Yoker district of Glasgow, and that he had at one stage worked in a laboratory. She would also recall distinct facial features of this man, such as his having overlapping front teeth. (Bouncers at the Barrowland Ballroom dismissed much of this description, claiming that the man in Helen’s company had been a short and well-spoken individual with black hair.)

The last possible sighting of the suspect was made by both the driver and conductor upon a night service bus, who noticed a young man matching Jean’s description alighting a bus at the junction of Dumbarton Road and Gray Street at approximately 2:00 a.m. on 31 October. He was in a notably disheveled state, with mud stains on his jacket and a livid red mark on his cheek just beneath one eye. Both witnesses also recalled his repeatedly tucking a short cuff of one sleeve into his jacket sleeve (a man’s cuff link had been found alongside the body of Helen Puttock). This individual was last seen walking towards the public ferry to cross the River Clyde to the south side of the city.

Link to series

The murder of Helen Puttock held remarkable similarities to the two previous murders, further raising suspicions that all three murders had been committed by the same individual. All of the victims had been mothers of at least one child and had met her murderer at the Barrowland Ballroom. The handbag of each woman was missing. Each victim had been strangled to death; and at least two of these women had been raped prior to her murder. In addition, the three women had been escorted home by her killer and murdered within yards of their doorstep, and all had been menstruating at the time of her death. Each had had her sanitary towel or tampon placed upon, beneath, or near her body, leading to speculation that the women had been murdered for their refusal to engage in intercourse with their murderer excused by their periods.

“It is quite incredible that this man has eluded us. I am positive this man comes from Glasgow or nearby. He is between 25 and 30, between 5 ft 10 in and 6 ft tall, has light red hair, good features, blue-grey eyes and a smart modern appearance. I do not think he is a very religious man, but just has a normal intelligent working knowledge of the Bible which he likes to air … there must be many people who know someone who looks like this artist’s impression.”
Detective Superintendent Joe Beattie, describing the prime suspect in the Bible John murders (1972).

Ongoing investigation

Within hours of the discovery of the body of Helen Puttock, an additional composite drawing of the suspect was created using the detailed description provided by her sister; this composite drawing would rapidly become one of the most famous facial composites in Scotland.[n 4] Detective Superintendent Joe Beattie asked the public to closely study this composite drawing, should it resemble anyone they knew. Due to the suspect’s hair being unfashionably short for the era, over 450 hairdressers in and around Glasgow were shown the updated composite drawing of the suspect, and all dentists in and around Glasgow were asked to examine their records to determine whether they held records of a male patient with overlapping incisors and a missing tooth in the upper right jaw. Both lines of inquiry would prove fruitless.

More than 100 detectives were assigned to work full-time on the case, and 50,000 witness statements would be taken in subsequent door-to-door inquiries. Ultimately, more than 5,000 potential suspects would be quizzed in relation to the murders in the first year of the inquiry alone, and Jean Langford would be required to attend over 300 identity parades, although she was adamant none of the individuals required to participate in these identity parades had been the individual with whom she had last seen her sister, and all would be cleared of any involvement. Fearing that the perpetrator would strike again, a team of 16 detectives were instructed to mingle with dancers at all dance halls in Glasgow. In particular, these detectives frequented the Barrowland on Thursday and Saturday nights at the over-25s events, where each victim was presumed to have met her murderer.[n 5]

Despite the extensive manhunt, no further developments would arise and the investigation into the three murders gradually became cold, with many individuals assigned to the case opining that the perpetrator had either died, been jailed for an unrelated offense, had been incarcerated at a mental hospital, or that senior police officers had known his actual identity, but had been unable to prove he had committed the murders. Others speculated that he may have simply moved away from the Glasgow district, or murdered whenever in the vicinity; this possibility prompted police to circulate multiple copies of the composite drawing at all British Army, Navy and Air Force bases in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle and Far East, although this potential line of inquiry also failed to produce any significant leads.

Potential suspects

“John White”
One former Detective Chief Inspector, Les Brown (then working with the Strathclyde Police), has supplied current investigators with details of the arrest of a suspect conducted in 1969 which he believes was of an extremely likely perpetrator, but which was dismissed simply because this individual did not have notably overlapping front teeth.

According to Les Brown, the man’s arguing with a young woman in the Barrowland Ballroom immediately prior to his arrest had greatly raised investigators’ concerns, yet—despite the fact the suspect had closely resembled the facial composite and had subsequently supplied police with a false name and address before revealing his true name and address in the Gorbals—was simply released. According to Brown, the simple fact of this particular suspect not having notably overlapping front teeth – despite one police sergeant’s acknowledgement of his being the best suspect yet – was sufficient enough for ordering his release.

Several years later, Brown extensively conversed with a detective who had taken the same individual to a hospital after arresting him outside the Barrowland Ballroom at the time of the murders. Although the suspect had needed several stitches in his head following an altercation, as soon as his handcuffs had been released, he escaped from the hospital. At the time of this incident, this individual had also falsely given his name to medical personnel as John White.

In addition to this basic circumstantial evidence, the “whole demeanour” of this individual had led Les Brown and several of his colleagues to believe this individual may have been the perpetrator.

John Irvine McInnes

In 1996, Strathclyde Police exhumed the body of John Irvine McInnes from a graveyard in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire. McInnes, who had served in the Scots Guards, had committed suicide in 1980 at the age of 41, having severed the brachial artery in his upper arm. He had been the cousin of one of the original suspects in the series of murders. A DNA sample was taken from McInnes’s body for comparison with semen samples discovered upon the stockings with which victim Helen Puttock had been strangled.

The results of the testing conducted proved inconclusive, with then-Lord Advocate Lord Mackay stating insufficient evidence existed to link McInnes with the murder of Helen Puttock. The Crown would officially clear McInnes of any involvement in the Bible John murders in July 1996.

Peter Tobin

Several criminologists and investigators have suggested that convicted serial killer Peter Tobin may have been Bible John. Tobin was convicted in May 2007 of the 2006 murder of a Polish student named Angelika Kluk, who had been raped, beaten, then stabbed to death; he had relocated from Shettleston, Glasgow to England in 1969 after marrying his first wife, whom he had met at the Barrowland Ballroom the same year as the murders attributed to Bible John had ended. Tobin would subsequently live in Brighton for 20 years from 1969, although from the late 1980s, he would alternately reside in either Scotland or the South of England.

Tobin had been in his mid-40s when he committed the 1991 murder of two teenage girls whose skeletonized bodies would subsequently be unearthed from the garden of his home in Margate, Kent in 2007. He would be convicted of these murders—alongside that of Kluk—between 2007 and 2009. Commencing serial murderous offences of an extremely calculated nature at such an age is unusual—though not unheard of—for a male. Furthermore, the fact that Tobin had attacked Kluk with such violence, then hidden her body before absconding to London prior to his subsequent arrest in addition to the abduction, restraining and concealment known to have been exhibited upon the two 1991 murder victims unearthed from the garden of his Margate home did not suggest the work of an amateur in any of these three cases.

Striking contemporary visual similarities exist between Peter Tobin when aged in his 20s and the 1969 composite drawing of Bible John. In addition, all three of Tobin’s former wives have given accounts of being repeatedly imprisoned, throttled, beaten and raped at his hands, and each has stated he had been driven to extreme physical violence by the female menstrual cycle (a factor long suspected by investigators as being the perpetrator’s actual motive behind the murders). In addition, Tobin is known to have been a staunch Roman Catholic with strong religious views, and the alias Bible John had given to Jean Langford and Helen Puttock in 1969 is similar to one of the pseudonyms known to have been regularly used by Tobin: John Semple.

Criminologist David Wilson actively investigated Tobin’s case for three years and strongly believes the available evidence supports his theory that Peter Tobin is Bible John. He has stated that the moment he believed Tobin was Bible John occurred during Tobin’s trial for the 1991 murder of 18-year-old Dinah McNicol, one of the women whose body had been unearthed from his Margate garden. The circumstantial evidence which Wilson uses to support this theory includes striking similarities between trial testimony from an acquaintance of Dinah’s who had been in her company on the evening of her abduction and the conversation with Bible John that Jean Langford claimed to have had on the evening of her sister’s murder; among the important points of overlap are both men mentioning they did not drink at Hogmanay and had a cousin who had once scored a hole-in-one in a golf match. This information—alongside other circumstantial evidence—has led Professor Wilson to state: “I didn’t set out to prove Tobin was Bible John, but I would stake my professional reputation on it.”

Although DNA testing has been used to clear several suspects, detectives believe obtaining a forensic link between Peter Tobin and any of the murder victims linked to Bible John is unlikely due to the deterioration of the physical samples owing to poor storage.

Operation Anagram

As a result of a police investigation named Operation Anagram, which was initiated in 2006 to trace the movements of Tobin throughout the decades and to determine his potential culpability in any other crimes, a woman informed investigators she had been raped by Tobin after she had met him at the Barrowland Ballroom in 1968, shortly after the first of the murders known to have been committed by Bible John. Another woman informed investigators in 2010 that she had endured a threatening experience with Tobin at the Barrowland Ballroom, claiming that Tobin had introduced himself as Peter, before pestering her to go with him to a party in the city’s Castlemilk area. When this woman viewed pictures of Tobin dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s, she stated: “[He] was the man who came up to me so many years ago in [the] Barrowlands. I am 100 per cent certain [that] Tobin is Bible John.”


No further murder victims killed in Scotland or elsewhere in the United Kingdom have ever been conclusively attributed to Bible John, and the manhunt for this murderer was one of the most extensive manhunts in Scottish criminal history. The murders of the three women remain unsolved, although the case remains open, with many investigators remaining certain that the perpetrator(s) of these crimes were highly likely to have been shielded by one or more individuals whom he had known.

No uniform consensus that the three killings were actually the work of the same person exists. It has been claimed that the gap of 18 months between the first two killings is unusual for a serial killer, and that the later two murders may have either been copycat killings, or the sole two committed by the same perpetrator. Criticism has also been levelled against the police for potentially hampering their own investigation by prematurely jumping to the conclusion that all three murders had been committed by the same person.

In 1983, an anonymous individual contacted Strathclyde Police. This individual claimed to conclusively know that his friend had been Bible John. According to this anonymous individual, both he and his friend had been raised in the Cranhill district of Glasgow, and both had frequented the Barrowland Ballroom in the 1960s. Allegedly, this individual had read an article in the Evening Times five years previously before suddenly realising his friend had been the perpetrator of the murders. The alleged suspect was traced living in the Netherlands, married to a Dutch woman. Nothing more was ever heard from the anonymous individual or the reputed suspect.

In 2004, police announced their intentions to genetically test a number of men in a further attempt to identify the perpetrator, with all individuals concerned being requested to submit blood samples. This endeavour followed the previous discovery of an 80% genetic match from the semen samples retrieved from the final crime scene attributed to Bible John with a DNA sample retrieved at the site of a minor crime committed two years earlier. The sample was enough of a match to lead officers to believe that the person who committed the offence was related to the killer.

The sole witness ever to have engaged in a lengthy conversation with Bible John, Jean Langford, died in September 2010 at the age of 74. Langford had given police the description used to form the second composite drawing created of the suspect, which continues to remain the most significant clue as to the perpetrator’s physical appearance. Despite Professor Wilson’s assertion that Peter Tobin may have been Bible John, when Jean Langford discussed her sister’s murderer many decades later, she dismissed this theory, stating emphatically that Tobin had not been the man with whom she had shared a taxi on the night of her sister’s murder.

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