The Park Bistro was ‘born’ on 8th June 2005, after a lot of time, effort, thought & sleepless nights!
The Waddell family have farmed at the Park Farm in Linlithgow since 1924. Back then it was a very mixed farm with cattle, sheep, tatties, barley, oats, turnips, sugar beet and wheat.
Local farm produce forms a large part of the ingredients in the restaurant and every opportunity is made to use seasonally available meats and vegetables from surrounding farms.
Seven pairs of horses were the ‘machinery’ back then, so hay & grassland formed a large part of the farm to keep the horses in food!
The war came, and with it so did mechanisation. The horses were replaced with machinery and the farm gradually increased to 570 acres.
Livestock was kept up until the 1990’s when the farm then became all ‘combinable’ with crops such as winter wheat, barley, oilseed rape with spring crops of beans and barley - this type of crop had to be stored in water tight sheds once it had been combined, so some of the older sheds then became redundant.
The shed which now houses ‘The Park Bistro’ was originally built as a cattle shed some 200 years ago. It was then converted into a hay and straw store in the 1950’s.
The last use of the shed in 2004 was as a store for our friend Arnaud, who is a genuine ‘Onion Johnny’ - as a store of his French onions, shallots and garlic which he then sold onto the restaurants and delis of Scotland.
With a fabulous location on the Union Canal leading to Linlithgow and the Falkirk Wheel, the shed was not being utilised to its potential. We wondered what we could do with the shed. Houses? No. Country shops - maybe? Tea room - perhaps?
British Waterways started the rejuvenation of the Union Canal, and built the Falkirk Wheel. Indeed they completely reopened the waterway.
We saw the huge potential that they indeed must have for the canal. There would be and increasing and ‘ready market’ of hungry cyclists, walkers, holiday makers and tourists all looking for a stopping off point from the canal.
It took over 3 years to get plans drawn up, building warrants & planning permission granted.
Building work started on the shed 5th January 2005, by main contractor - Edinburgh Construction, with local tradesmen - Pagan Plumbers, Stewart Electrical and David Young Builders.
Work was slowed down by the finding of a network of tunnels which were found under the shed which ran under the canal, up to Kingscavil, Champfleurie Estate and towards Linlithgow.
The exploration work was widely televised, with even emigrants to Australia Tunnels leading to Linlithgow Palacewho used to live nearby in Kingscavil contacting us with information following the news and television reports.
Peter Waddell, partner with his wife Tracey in The Park Bistro , is keenly interested in the history of the farm and now with these recent tunnel finds, leading some say to Linlithgow Palace, will have even more to interest him in the future.