History of Biggar

History of Biggar

Biggar occupies a key location close to two of Scotland’s great rivers, the Clyde flowing to the west, and the Tweed flowing to the east. The area has been occupied since Mesolithic times. The present day A702 follows the route of a Roman road, which linked the Clyde Valley with Musselburgh.

Biggar High Street, early 20th century

In the 12th century, a motte and bailey castle was constructed by the Normans, and the first permanent crossing of the Biggar Burn was built. It is thought that there has been a church at Biggar since the 6th or 7th century, although the first stone kirk was built in 1164, on the site of the existing kirk.

In the 14th century, the Fleming family were given lands in the area by Robert the Bruce, whose cause they had supported. The Flemings built Boghall Castle, visible as a ruin until the early 20th century, but now only represented by a few mounds. The town continued to grow as an important market town, and in 1451 the town became a burgh.

The Elphinstone Hotel

The market place remains the central focus of the town. The kirk was rebuilt as a Collegiate church in 1546, the last to be established before the Reformation of 1560. The Flemings found themselves on the wrong side in the 16th century, when they supported Mary, Queen of Scots, and their lands were given over to the Elphinstone family.

Biggar Gas Works opened in 1836, producing gas from coal. In 1973, with the introduction of natural gas, the works closed. Biggar had its own railway station between 1860 and 1953.

Remains in 1962 of Biggar station
Remains in 1962 of Biggar station

John Brown the physician and essayist was born in a house in the South Back Road in 1810 which was at that time a manse. He is commemorated with a plaque on the front wall of the municipal hall.

In early 1900 a farmer located in Biggar founded Albion Motors as a small business which eventually grew into the largest truck company in the British Empire. The company still exists as part of the Leyland DAF group. The archives of Albion motors can still be found in Biggar.

In the summer of 1940 several thousands of Polish soldiers were stationed here, having been evacuated after the collapse of France. Later they moved to the east coast of Scotland to defend the coast and to train for their deployment as the 1st Polish Armored Division in Normandy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Biggar Business Group