Much-loved venue marks half century



Bathgate has long held its reputation as the music capital of West Lothian, and that is due in no small part to the Scottish music institution that is Dreadnought Rock.

For generations, music fans across Scotland flocked to Bathgate to see what all the fuss was about.

The club has a legacy to uphold – some DJs have performed in DreadnoughtRock for over 40 years, with the newest DJ having a tenure of just four years, and certain bar staff have worked in the building for decades.

The team behind Dreadnought don’t remember exactly when the venue first opened, but after looking through accounts and listening to the oral histories of long-time customers and friends, they narrowed down the time of opening to around April / May in 1972 – give or take a month or so.

Studio 4 started what would become Dreadnought Rock in 1972, a rock disco at the Old Dreadnought Hotel, which was then taken over by Douglas Croft around three years in, who remains at the helm 47 years later – ready to celebrate the club’s golden anniversary.

Alan Russell, the operations manager of DreadnoughtRock spoke about being open in Bathgate for 50 years, he said:

“It’s fairly unique for any company to be open 50 years, never mind in our line of work.

“I’ve been involved with Dreadnought for over 25 years now, and I’ve seen the scene change massively in West Lothian.

“Back then there were at least eight nightclubs in Bathgate and around 15-20 in West Lothian – now I think West Lothian only has three altogether.

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“That just shows how phenomenal it is to be open this long – and I think what makes us have that staying power is that we evolved.”

Ten years ago the club’s 40th anniversary night sold a total of 100 tickets on a Sunday night, which quickly escalated into a chaotic party with many more looking for invites as word spread.

Following on from their 40th anniversary celebrations in 2012, the management are keen to do it right this time, expanding things into four nights of celebration so no one from the clubs history gets left behind.

The four nights will allow for all the ex-staff and customers of Dreadnought to come back and relive their glory days from the club’s half a century’s worth of history.

The club got its name from the Old Dreadnought Hotel, the original venue in which Douglas Croft hosted a Rock Disco in 1972.

The Old Dreadnought Hotel closed around 2006 when Swallow Hotels, the owner of the hotel, went into administration.

Despite the loss of their spiritual home, the Dreadnought persisted, eventually settling at its new venue on King Street in Bathgate where it’s been for nearly 15 years.

Alan concludes: “While nothings changed dramatically, we’ve evolved with rock music and all the different things that came and went.

“We’ve been rocking through some torturous times, of course Covid has hit us hard, but even looking back at the smoking ban and the hike in interest rates, those both caused mayhem.

“Our spending power has come and gone but we’ll always be around – it’s to the point now where we don’t measure in years, we measure in decades.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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