Bathgate Games hits the showers, closing 50-year history
The popular Bathgate Highland Games, held annually in Bathgate, Scotland, have folded due to financial issues.
The event was started in the early 1970s and grew to be the venue for the RSPBA’s British Pipe Band Championships in the late 1970s and ’80s. In the 2010s the event changed its identity to the West Lothian Highland Games.
Some in the region at the time remarked that the loss of local identity would be the start of the games’ demise. The competition struggled to attract competing bands, and organizers elected to scrap the pipe band contest and hire the local Grade 1 Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia and Inveraray & District to entertain the crowds, along with Boghall & Bathgate’s juvenile bands, West Lothian Schools and Kilmarnock Schools.
Publicly accessible financial reports indicate a loss of £6,000 in 2019, the last year the competition was held.
The Bathgate Highland Games were the brainchild of former Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band Pipe-Major Alex Samuel and George “Geordie” Baxter, a famous personality in the Scottish pipe band scene for decades.
When the event hosted the British Championships, it was a rare RSPBA major that also offered solo piping competitions.
A local group is reportedly discussing ways that the event might be saved under new management.