In the twentieth century, Edinburgh and the Lothians saw a second wave of development in education and working lives. Over time, manufacturing and mining had slowed in Britain. New developments in technology and the dawn of the computer age brought exciting new jobs to Scotland. These changes coincided with the New Town developments in central Scotland. The New Towns were built after the Second World War to relieve the need for housing in urban areas. Glasgow had been badly hit by bombing during the Second World War and the creation of Livingston, a nearby New Town, attracted Glasgow residents in large numbers. Livingston was the fourth of five Scottish New Towns created under the New Towns (Scotland) Act 1946, the others being Cumbernauld, Irvine, Glenrothes and East Kilbride. Livingston Development Corporation was set up to create and co-ordinate new industrial activity in the Central Belt and to manage the population over-spill from Glasgow by providing new homes and employment.
The West Lothian Council archives hold an extensive collection of the records of the Livingston Development Corporation.The records of the Livingston Development Corporation map the stages in planning and building Livingston; creating social and cultural structures of the town; and Livingston’s commercial and industrial progress. The records form a significant research resource for the history of the Livingston Development Corporation, the regional and local conditions, and social and economic development. The records span the entire history of Livingston Development Corporation, from inception in 1963 to wind up in 1997, when functions transferred to West Lothian Council.
The growth of Livingston radically altered the local landscape and had a huge social, cultural and economic impact on the region. Livingston, situated between Edinburgh and Glasgow, grew from three small villages to a town of 45,000 people and nearly a thousand employers. For thirty-five years Livingston attracted some of the largest and well-known national and international companies including Cameron Iron, Mitsubishi, Murray International Metals, Shin-Etsu and NEC.Livingston Development Corporation was extremely successful in attracting businesses to the town and providing a place where industry could flourish.
The Corporation ran a simple but effective advertising slogan: “Make it in Livingston”. Companies from as far afield as America and Japan invested in the area to produce software, steel forgings, semiconductor wafers and shortbread, and many remain to this day. This provided many employment and training opportunities, which were document by the Corporation’s photographers. Today, the photographs are anachronistic and occasionally amusing, but they catalogue the Livingston experience as many new residents felt it in the early days of New Town life, and were intended to show to the world how Livingston was at the cutting edge of an industrial and economic boom in Scotland.
A gallery of the Livingston Development Corporation collection can be viewed below.