STEEPED in history, the oldest pub in the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow has quenched the thirst of countless customers who have been regaled with the touching story of how a dog’s loyalty inspired its name.
While for those locals born within the sound of the bells ringing from St Michael’s Church, there is deep pride in being known as “Black Bitches”.
But now the pub chain that owns the historic town’s Black Bitch Tavern has revealed controversial plans to erase centuries of heritage, after deciding the traditional name has racist and offensive connotations.
The move to change the name of the 17th-century pub to the Black Hound Tavern has sparked outrage among locals, who regard being known as a “black bitch” as the ultimate honour.
It has led to demands for the Greene King pub chain to rethink its decision, and a warning that locals will simply ignore the move and continue to call the pub by its historic name.
The town’s black bitch reference relates to a centuries-old story about a prisoner whose black greyhound remained loyal to him while he served his punishment, tied to a tree on an island in Linlithgow Loch.
The black bitch became a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness. An image of the greyhound tied to an oak tree features on the town’s coat of arms, and a sculpture of a black greyhound was recently unveiled in its High Street.
Regardless, the Suffolk-based pub chain – which prides itself on its 200 years heritage – has insisted that modern sensitivities and the way language has evolved mean that despite the name is no longer appropriate.