The Goth in Armadale is the oldest surviving Gothenberg in Scotland still being used as originally intended.
At the end of the nineteenth century, coal mining was the main industry in Armadale.
‘About this time a few shrewd miners used to meet in “Calderhead’s” or “Billy Edwards”, regularly on Saturday nights, and after they had ‘howked their coals, and brushed their places’ all over again, the conversation turned to the question of drink, its quality and price…….. [they] began to consider the possibility of setting up a public-house under the provisions of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, 1893, which would provide good quality goods for customers, where members would have a say in the management , but above all, where some of the profits would, in some form, be applied for the benefit of the community.’ *
Provost Smith of Armadale was interested in an idea from the Swedish port of Gothenburg where an experimental public house, run by a co-operative society, was established as part of an effort to decrease the amount of alcohol consumed by sailors.
Malcolm Mallace, ‘Auld Maikum’ to his friends, member of the School Board, Parish Council and other organisations, was very interested in the idea and was able to convince others of its worth. A public meeting was called and, under the terms of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1893, it was decided to found the Armadale Public House Society with members as detailed below. The public were invited to buy shares of 5 shillings each. Insufficient funds were raised to rent the premises let alone to buy stock, and so Malcolm Mallace and two others visited the local coal master and benefactor, James Wood, to ask for financial support. He backed the scheme with a loan of £1,000.
1901 Committee: Malcolm Mallace, President; John Rankine, Vice-President; William Love, Treasurer; R. Smith, Secretary; Committee: H. Friel, David Kerr, David Love, R. Drummond, J. Simpson, R. Wright, J. Adams, W. Douglas, T. Watson. Manager: William Aikman
The empty property in West Main Street belonging to Mr. Marshall the baker was secured for the business and altered to meet the requirements of The Goth, but, unexpectedly, the licence to open was not granted until October 1901.
According to its rules of operation, the premises were kept spotlessly clean and functional, housing few distractions which might tempt its patrons to linger there.
The Goth Clock Tower, was designed by architects Peddie & Kinnear, who also designed the Art Nouveau columned interior. The tower was commissioned in 1924 to commemorate the 21 years of service by the Goth’s first President, Malcolm MALLACE, ‘Auld Maikum’, President of Armadale Public House Society Ltd, 1901 – 1922.
Read more at armadale.org.uk here