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West Lothian Licensees Honoured on Their Anniversary
Awards , News
Some of West Lothian’s longest-serving licensees have been honoured with a prestigious award to celebrate their 50th anniversary running an historic* Uphall pub.
The award from the building’s owners – Edinburgh-based Star Pubs & Bars – recognises the MacGregor family’s service to The Oatridge Hotel and the wider community over five decades.
The MacGregors took on The Oatridge Hotel on Main Street in 1972. Three generations of the family have now run the pub, and they’re still going strong, aiming to remain at the helm until at least their 65th anniversary.
71-year-old Gordon MacGregor started working behind the bar at The Oatridge Hotel aged 21 when his dad – Alexander – became landlord. The pub passed to Gordon in 1998 before his daughter and son – Angela and Gordon junior – took the reins seven years ago having worked in the pub for 26 years. Gordon senior is still an important member of the MacGregor team, setting up the pub in the morning, acting as cellar man and enjoying a “blather” in the bar with some of his original regulars.
Back in 1972, The Oatridge Hotel was a little-used man’s pub with a handful of customers and four letting rooms without bathrooms. Recalls Gordon senior: “We’d always had busy pubs in Glasgow before. When we looked round The Oatridge Hotel, it was a mess with a 60s décor, only a handful of customers and Ushers beer on tap, which was poorly regarded locally. I told my dad it was a waste of time and we shouldn't go ahead, but he had a good feeling about the pub’s potential, and he proved right.”
Thanks to excellent management, friendly service and a rolling programme of renovations that is like “painting the Forth Road Bridge,” according to Gordon senior, the MacGregors have turned The Oatridge Hotel into a hub of the community. The family-friendly venue boasts a traditional bar, a games room (kitted out with a pool table, screens and Sky Sports), a popular restaurant known for its steaks, seven en- suite letting rooms and a 120-seater garden. It is used as a meeting place by residents of all ages for occasions ranging from drinks with friends and watching sports to celebratory meals, functions and even weddings.
Continues Gordon senior: “I quickly fell in love with The Oatridge Hotel and Uphall. It’s a great wee village and the people are lovely and easy to talk to. We try to keep The Oatridge looking good, but it's the friendliness of the customers that makes its special atmosphere. Everyone talks to each other, so it’s very welcoming, even for strangers.”
Adds Gordon junior: “We can’t thank people enough for backing The Oatridge Hotel over the past 50 years and seeing us through the pandemic. We’re very fortunate to have been supported by a fantastic team of staff, too. A lot has changed since 1972, but a good local is as important as ever, especially when times are tough, as they are now. It’s a place where people can get together, share any troubles and leave feeling happier. The Oatridge Hotel has been part of Uphall life for more than 200 years, and we’re determined to carry on the legacy and keep it thriving for future generations to enjoy.”
Comments Star Pubs & Bars’ Operations Director for Scotland Matt Dyson: “The MacGregors are superb licensees; it’s a privilege to present this award. It’s an amazing accomplishment to have kept a pub at the top of its game for so long. The MacGregors’ dedication, warm hospitality and high standards are second to none.”
*There has been an inn on the site of The Oatridge Hotel since the late 1700s. The Uphall Inn was built as a coaching inn on the Bathgate-Aidre Turnpike Road, which opened in the 1790s. The Uphall Inn was destroyed by fire in 1805, and The Oatridge Hotel was built to replace it. It opened in 1810 with stabling for horses to meet the needs of the stagecoaches travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The distinctive Georgian building is Category B Listed.