Known as one of Scotland’s most beautiful towns, Falkirk in the Central lowlands of Scotland was part of the historic county of Sterlingshire. Today the area is home to more than 160,000 people, of which just over 32,000 live in the town itself. People from Falkirk are colloquially called ‘the bairns’.
Remains of the Antonine Wall – turf fortifications based on stone foundations built by the Romans to stop invasion into their conquered territory – can be found at Callendar Park.
22nd July 1298 saw the Battle of Falkirk, when William Wallace was defeated by King Edward I of England.
During the Industrial Revolution the area saw lots of innovation and investment. James Watt cast some of the beams for his early steam engine designs at the Carron Iron Works in 1765. Then in 1790 the Forth and Clyde Canal opened, followed by the Union canal in 1822, and along came the railways in the next decade.
Thanks to the design and implementation of local firm Thomas Laurie & Co Ltd, in the 19th century, Falkirk became the first town in Great Britain to have a fully automated system of street lighting.
In more recent decades the process of change has been subtler, but altered lives and landscapes nonetheless. Luckily many photographers and filmmakers caught these moments in time before they were lost forever.
The Town Through The Decades
“Old Photographs Falkirk Central Scotland”
A nice variety of black and white photos of the town and its people.
“Amazing Grace/The Bairns./Old Falkirk Photos”
A selection of colour and black and white photos of the town. The music played by a group of instruments includes the Scottish Smallpipes.
“Old Falkirk Town”
Photos from a range of decades, with a gently nostalgic poem in a strong local accent.
A series of colour photographs assembled by YouTube channel alexburt34 show many people and places over the years. From the comments underneath a number of viewers are uncomfortable with images from the Orange march.
Interesting to see pictures of locations in the past, and what they look like today.
Between The World Wars
“Carron Dam Carron Valley Reservoir near Falkirk -Construction of Carron Dam 1 of 3”
“Carron Dam Carron Valley Reservoir near Falkirk -Construction of Carron Dam 2 of 3”
“Carron Dam Carron Valley Reservoir near Falkirk -Construction of Carron Dam 3 of 3”
Three silent films, with intermittent titles explaining aspects of the project. It’s heavy, difficult work. During the winter, the men shovel pathways out of the deep snow.
“Industrial Falkirk 1938”
This footage from the year before the Second World War started shows the importance of manufacturing in the town. Throughout the film are lists of the industries producing goods there.
Train In The Park
“Tankie at Calendar Park, Falkirk 1950’s”
This miniature locomotive has certainly been passed around over the years! According to Lee Sutherland:
“…this loco was built by Alex McLuckie in 1949, originally named Gary Alexander, it was then sold to George Grant who repainted it into LMS and named it Kimberley after his daughter around 1987. It was repainted a few years later into BR Black where it retained the name Kimberley until being sold to Richard Niven around 2000. Richard owned her for around 2 years then sold her to a chap in the Worthing club, the loco had been out of circulation on the model engineering scene until it turned up in my friends workshop, www.steamworkshop.co.uk owned by Simon Hudson, the loco is currently receiving some work by the excellent engineers at the Steam Workshop and it is hoped to reunite George and Kimberley with the loco for a short period of time prior to being sold.”
Getting About In The 80s & 90s
“Drive around Falkirk 1988“
Fourteen minutes of the town’s streets, houses, shops, offices, cars, buses, pedestrians and building works in 1988.
“FALKIRK BUSES DEC 1992”
In the old, wet winter there aren’t many pedestrians around, but you can see them occasionally. There certainly don’t seem to be many passengers on the buses, although there are plenty of red traffic lights!
“Bonnybridge & Falkirk”
Lots of different locations shown in the 1990s.
“Seeing Blue! Part 2 – Falkirk in 1994”
The background chatter suggests most of the filming occurred from inside a bus. 22nd January 1994. Lots of pedestrians on the street.
“Seeing Blue! Part 3 – Bannockburn & Larbert and Falkirk in March 1994”
The odd few pedestrians appear walking along pavements or crossing roads.
The 21st Century
“First Big in Falkirk 2000”
Hundreds of spectators and participants appear in this fifteen minute video. Filmed between 26th-28th May 2000, it recorded Scotland’s first National Street Arts Festival for posterity.
“Race for Life Falkirk 2010”
The zumba warm up for the 5k run. You might want to turn your sound down before playing this!
“Falkirk snow 2010”
Quick clip of deep snow.
“FALKIRK BUSES OCT 2015”
More recent buses, all trying to stop in one street at the same time. Spot anyone you know?