200 years of Scottish history

The Scotsman was launched on the 25th of January 1817 – the birthday of the great Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns – by William Ritchie, a solicitor and Charles Maclaren, a customs official. They created what Lord Cockburn described as, “the first Scotch newspaper that combined independence with intelligence and moderation with zeal.”

In 1820 the ‘Radical War’, a bid for electoral reform in Scotland saw week long strikes in industries across central Scotland, with the proclamation calling for the people to “assert our rights at the hazard of our lives” by “taking up arms for the redress of our common grievances”.  Three of the leaders were executed for their part in the war.

1842- 1867

Beginning in 1846, the rural communities of the Hebrides and the Highlands saw the potato crop on which they relied heavily, devastated, leading to widespread famine across the areas.

In 1865, Scottish physicist and mathematician, James Clerk Maxwell published ‘A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field’, demonstrating that electric and magnetic fields travel through space as waves, at the speed of light. The work was later described by Albert Einsten as “most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton”

1867 – 1892

In 1890 the iconic Forth Rail bridge was completed to become the longest single cantilever bridge span. To this day it remains symbolic of Scotland and one of the country’s well-loved UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

1892 – 1917

In 1896 another iconic piece of Scottish infrastructure was built, with the Glasgow Subway becoming the world’s third underground railway system. The six and half mile long system has stood the test of time that trams could not, undergoing modernisation over the years.


1934 marked the inception of the Scottish National Party, winning their first parliamentary seat in Motherwell, 11 years later. Today the SNP holds 56 parliamentary seats at Westminster.

Described by historian Les Taylor as “the most cataclysmic event” in war-time Scotland, the Clydebank Blitz of 1941, aimed at destroying the ship building industry of the town, killed 528 people and left only seven of the town’s 12000 homes undamaged.

1942 – 1967

1947 brought the first edition of the Edinburgh Festival, in a post war effort to lift spirits. The first festival boasted performances from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and continued to grow with the first Military Tattoo being staged in 1950, an integral part of the festival that remains to this day.

In 1967 Celtic F.C. brought glory to Glasgow by winning the European Cup and becoming the first British club to win the competition, and the only Scottish club to this date.

1967 – 1992

On December 21 1998, Pan Am flight 103 was blown up in a terrorist attack over Lockerbie, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crewmembers, as well as 11 people on the ground. Libyan intelligence agent Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of 270 counts of murder following a trial and was held in Scotland until being released on compassionate grounds in 2009, dying three years later.

1992 signalled the end of the large scale steel industry in Scotland when the decision was made to close the Ravenscraig steelworks in Motherwell. The closure of the largest steel mill in Western Europe caused 770 jobs to be lost directly and it has been estimated a further 10000 were lost as a result.

1992 – 2017

In 1996 researchers Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh were the first people to successfully clone an animal. Dolly the sheep was born on 5th of July and lived for nearly 7 years. She remains on display in the National Museum of Scotland.

In 1999 under the leadership of First Minister Donald Dewar, the Scottish Parliament sat for the first time in 272 years, after the people of Scotland voted in the 1997 referendum that power be devolved to a Scottish Government

At the London Olympics in 2012 Sir Chris Hoy became Scotland, and Britain’s greatest Olympian with wins in the team sprint and the keirin. The velodrome in Glasgow, built for the 2014 Commonwealth games, was subsequently named the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, and Sir Chris to this day owns locker number one in the track centre.

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