Hundreds in new protest amid row over Linlithgow's Black Bitch pub name change

The owner of Linlithgow’s historic Black Bitch pub is under mounting pressure from politicians, protesters and local residents to scrap plans to change the name.

By James Trimble
Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 11:53 am

Greene King was set to alter the name of the West Port pub after complaints it was “racist and offensive”.

However, hundreds of people, backed by more than 40 parliamentarians, took to the streets of Linlithgow on Saturday to defend its oldest bar and stop Greene King changing the name to The Black Hound.

People born in Linlithgow are affectionately known as “black bitches”.

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Plans are afoot to change name of The Black Bitch pub

The pub’s existing name derives from this custom and a legend of a faithful black greyhound that swam across Linlithgow Loch to take food to her incarcerated owner – the canine’s efforts led to her being incorporated in the town’s coat of arms in 1673 and immortalised in the High Street sculpture, The Black Bitch of Linlithgow.

Around 11,000 people have signed a petition to keep the name the way it is and the issue has also united politicians across party divides, with 29 MSPs and 13 MPs opposing the plan.

Local SNP MSP Fiona Hyslop accused the company of disrespecting the town’s history and of slighting those locals who have proudly called themselves “black bitches”.Murdoch Kennedy, a regular at The Black Bitch, runs the Linlithgow folk festival, which holds gigs in the tavern.

Mr Kennedy, who has co-written a protest song to the tune of Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog, said: “The owners have got to recognise that 11,000 people who have signed a petition do not want the name to change. Why are they going out of their way to upset their customers, never mind what this means to the town?”

The Black Bitch pub in West Port, Linlithgow

A Greene King spokesman said it is seeking to work constructively with local people to choose a new name for the pub and has suggested a number of options.

He added: “We respect the rich and varied history of Linlithgow and its traditions, but we’re changing the name of our pub as we also know there are people who find its current name offensive as language has evolved.”