Bo'ness is an industrial town in West Lothian in central Scotland, with a population of 14,840 in 2020. The main reason to visit is to ride the Bo'ness and Kinneil steam railway.
The town's full name is Borrowstounness, meaning "the headland near Beornweard's farmstead", but it's never called that. From medieval times coal-mining was its main industry, along with pottery, metal-working and ship-breaking; but the harbour became blighted as much by silting as by the decline of those industries. It's nowadays effectively a suburb of the oil and gas town of Grangemouth, and a commuter town for Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Bo'ness is fifteen miles west of Edinburgh, from M9 exit at junction 3 onto A904 / A993.
Bus C19 runs from Edinburgh past the airport every 3 hours, taking an hour to Bo'ness. Bus 909 follows a similar route every couple of hours and continues via Grangemouth to Stirling.
It's often more convenient to travel to Falkirk then take Bus 2, which runs every 30 min via Grangemouth and takes 40 min. Otherwise travel to Linlithgow and take Bus 45 / 46, which orbits the area hourly.
The nearest railway stations are Falkirk and Linlithgow, on the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street. The branch line to Bo'ness is only used for heritage train excursions.
The town centre can easily be explored on foot. See above for buses to neighbouring towns.
Taxi firms are Bo'ness Taxi (+44 7511 710960) and Gordon's (+44 1506 264242).
- 1 Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway, Union St EH51 9AQ, ☏ . April-Oct daily 11:00-16:30, Dec Sa Su. Extensive railway museum. They run trains (usually steam-hauled) up the branch past Grangemouth to the main line near Polmont. These trips used to take in the fire-clay mine at Birkhill but this has closed. Adult £5, train ride £10.
- 2 Kinneil Estate is a pleasant parkland off A904 at the west edge of town. Within it are:
- 3 Bo'ness Motor Museum, Bridgeness Road EH51 9JR, ☏ . Apr-Oct M-Sa 10:00-16:00, Su 11:00-16:00, Nov-Mar variable. It's more about film and TV props than a vintage collection: cars include those graced by 007, Harry Potter and Thunderbirds. Adult £6.95.
- Blackness Castle near Linlithgow is reached by walking east along the coast. This is part of the John Muir Way, which follows the Union Canal from Falkirk to Linlithgow then backtracks down to the coast at Bo'ness to hug the coast past the castle to South Queensferry and Edinburgh.
- 1 Hippodrome Cinema, 10 Hope Street. Built in 1911 in "not-quite-Art Deco", it closed in 1980 but re-opened in 2009.
- Barony Theatre is a mile south of town centre in a former primary school.
- Bo'ness Revival is a classic car event and hill-climb held on Kinneil Estate at the end of August. (The original hill climb course closed in 1966 and the land was built over.) The next is 2-3 Sept 2023.
- Inkspot & Silverleaf, 56 South St. Tu-Sa 10:00-16:00. renowned independent booksellers
- 1 Corvi's (Seaview Cafe), 5 Seaview Place EH51 0AJ. M Tu Th 11:30-14:00 & 15:30-19:00, F Sa 11:30-19:00. Traditional fish and chip shop with sit in area. Speciality is smoked fish in batter.
- 2 Corbie Inn, 84 Corbiehall EH51 0AS, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-23:00, Su 12:30-22:30. Pub with large outdoor eating area.
- Anchor Tavern on North St is open daily 11:00-23:00.
- 1 Bo'mains Farmhouse, EH49 7RQ (A706 midway between Bo'Ness and Linlithgow), ☏ , email@example.com. Small hotel on working farm. B&B double £70.
- 2 Richmond Park Hotel, 26 Linlithgow Rd EH51 0DN, ☏ . Mid-range hotel, clean and friendly. B&B double £70.
- And see Falkirk and Grangemouth accommodation, for instance the Premier Inn at M9 jcn 5.
As of July 2023, Bo'ness and its approach roads have 4G from Vodafone and (in patches) from EE, only a basic mobile signal from Three, and 5G from O2.
- Linlithgow three miles south has a ruined medieval palace.
- Follow the coast east past Blackness Castle to South Queensferry and into Edinburgh.
- West there's a lot of industry around Grangemouth and Falkirk, but plough on past that and you come to Stirling, a pocket-sized Edinburgh, and the Campsie Fells.