Linlithgow Black Bitch protestors won't give up the fight

Campaigners, opposed to brewers Greene King renaming the Black Bitch Tavern The Willow Tree due to what it calls racist sensitivities, are due to hold another protest.

A previous protest against Greene King's decision to change the Linlithgow pub's name.
A previous protest against Greene King's decision to change the Linlithgow pub's name.

The action committee opposed to the change held a meeting on Monday and decided to hold a public protest outside the pub at 2pm this coming Sunday.

Alistair Old from the committee said: “We have no intention of giving up the fight to protect our heritage from this unjust accusation from a corporate giant who need to explain in detail what is racist or offensive about the term Black Bitch when used in Linlithgow.

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"Black is still a colour and Bitch is still a female dog in the dictionary. These haven’t changed in the 120 years the pub has been named that.

"Once again Greene King sent out the corporate blurb stating that they understand the historic significance of the name and changing the name is not meant to disrespect the heritage of Linlithgow.

"This is exactly what they are doing by using their continuing statement that our heritage is offensive.”

A Greene King spokesperson said: “We respect the proud history of Linlithgow and listened to community feedback about our original choice of name, which is why we’re now renaming our pub to The Willow Tree to mark another important piece of local heritage.

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"It has never been our intention to cause any upset but we cannot ignore that we’ve heard from many people, including people living in the town, who don’t feel comfortable with the existing name written on the front of a pub, even when the context is known.”

The pub’s original name derives from a local 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.

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It was suggested locally that new name options could consider the nearby statue of drover Katie Wearie and Katie Wearie’s willow tree, which was planted originally in 1832 to mark the Reform Act in Scotland.