Sensitivity over racism and offensive connotations sees Greene King change name of Linlithgow's Black Bitch pub

Greene King has announced its intention to change the name of one of its tenanted pubs in Linlithgow as the name now carries racist and offensive connotations.

By John A. MacInnes
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 3:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 3:32 pm
The Black Bitch is to be renamed by brewery company Greene King to the Black Hound
The Black Bitch is to be renamed by brewery company Greene King to the Black Hound

The Black Bitch in Linlithgow dates back to at least the 17th century and was originally named for a black, female greyhound that features on the town’s heraldic crest and symbolises a well-known local legend of a hunting dog that saved its master’s life.

However, while the name was not originally racist and would not have been seen as offensive, the way that language has evolved – in particular the use of the word ‘bitch’ in today’s society – now means that the pub’s name carries a very different meaning.

Greene King consulted on the name with a number of groups and organisations, both internally and externally, including the West Lothian Community Race Forum, and also undertook independent research, which showed many people would no longer feel welcome visiting a pub with that name, even if they knew where the name originated.

The pub will therefore be renamed The Black Hound.

Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie said: “This is an important decision to take but we feel strongly that it is the right one. We are well-aware of the pub’s history and where the name originates and so we are choosing a new name that still reflects the pub’s history and will look to retain the coat of arms and images on the pub’s sign.

“We have spent many months reviewing and discussing this as we understand that changing this name will attract a range of views, but as part of our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation we want our pub names to be welcoming and inclusive and that means taking action when there is a need to make a positive change for the better.”

This is the fifth pub name Greene King will have changed in 2021, after they decided earlier in the year to rename three pubs called The Black Boy and another called The Black’s Head.

A planning application will be submitted to the local council to physically change the name written on the pub sign.