A look at life in Livingston New Town from 1962-1997, using archives held at West Lothian Council Archives and Records Centre
Friday, 19 April 2013
In the Archives: Advertising Livingston
Livingston new town was created with two main aims – the first was to build houses that could take people from Glasgow who were being displaced by slum clearances in the city. The second aim, and one which was increasingly important during the 1970s, was to develop in Livingston as an economic base for the Lothians. The idea was that there would need to be a drive to counteract the decline of the old heavy industries that employed so many in the area – especially mining.
Livingston was created with jobs as a focus then, and it was here that it was perhaps most successful.In 1975 there were 7,930 people employed in Livingston, by 1995 this had risen to 25,694.
To encourage firms to locate in Livingston there were various beneficial rates available and to advertise the benefits of making it in Livingston there were various advertising campaigns.The first, shortlived slogan was “Livingston: The Pacesetter”, but this was soon replaced by two or three slogans that were to last twenty years. These were “Make it in Livingston” , “Locate in Livingston” and, to a lesser extent, “Livingston: Europe’s Most Logical Location.” The Livingston Development Corporation at first used an advertising consultancy, Halls of Edinb
urgh, to lead its marketing campaigns, but as the expertise of staff grew, more and more functions were brought in house. The advertising campaigns used bythe Corporation were seen all over the world, from newspapers in the US and Japan, to the walls of the London Underground.
The increase of advertising knowledge at the Corporation was echoed by its technical and commercial staff who became experts at designing factories that could be used by the most demanding of technology companies. The burgeoning technology industry was an area of high growth, and brought with it changes in the job market and also to society more widely.A skilled workforce and an appropriate environment for technology combined to make Livingston capital of Silicon Glen.In the 1970s the Livingston Development Corporation developed Kirkton Campus, a technology park, at a time when many advanced technology companies from the USA and Japan were seeking an appropriate location for their European operations.The LDC kept tight control on Kirkton Campus, keeping it as a place that only technologically demanding firms could locate – this made it one of the first high-technology parks in the UK.
This combination of facilities and successful advertising (and wining and dining) made Livingston quite successful in attracting international firms. The Japanese connection included NEC (Nippon Electric Company), one of Scotland’s seven semiconductor companies, as well as Shin-Etsu, the UK’s only producer of silicon wafers, the industry’s raw material.The Japanese companies not only brought jobs and wealth to Livingston but added a touch of the exotic to the town.Special efforts were made to make the overseas visitors feel at home such as arranging a Saturday school for Japanese children.The new families introduced Livingston to Japanese cooking through the International Club at Craigs Farm and to their culture during festivals and special occasions.
NEC made one of the largest ever investments by a Japanese company in Europe and became one of the town’s largest industrial employers.Its closure in 2002 was a major blow to the local economy.