Our next trip took us to the town of Lockerbie, which is sadly most well known for a tragedy that occurred during the latter half of the 20th century…
Status: Dumfries & Galloway (historically Dumfriesshire), Town, Scotland
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Lockerbie Town Hall, War Memorial, Lockerbie Bombing Memorial, West Coast Main Line etc
We arrived in the town by car, and pulled up in the centre of town on High Street, outside Lockerbie’s two most prominent landmarks. The Tower of the Town Hall rose up into the mist, topped by a familiar turreted Clock section, which we have seen in a number of Scottish towns, from nearby Annan, to the town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders.
Lockerbie Town Hall dates back to 1873 when the 1st designs were drawn up by David Bryce (1803 – 1876, a notable Scottish Architect from Edinburgh, who also designed the Surgical Hospital in Edinburgh amongst others). Construction wouldn’t begin for another decade, during which the plans were altered slightly, but eventually work began in 1884, and it was completed that year. It’s a beautiful building, something that the Scots do well, especially with buildings of such importance.
Outside the Town Hall stands the towns War Memorial, designed by James B Dunn of Edinburgh in the 1920’s. Around the edge of the pedestal are plaques bearing names of the soldiers from the town who lost their lives in World War I between 1914 – 1919.
Just East of the Town Hall/Memorial lies Lockerbies station on the West Coast Main Line, the main train line between London and Glasgow which runs through the town. The station opened in 1847 and trains ran between Carlisle/Glasgow via Lockerbie, as well as from the town to the nearby main town of Dumfries from 1863. This 2nd line sadly closed in the 1960’s but due to Lockerbies position directly on the mainline it survived, and is an important stop on the line. Interestingly, Lockerbie Station is the only one in Scotland not served by any Scotrail Services, with only Virgin Trains and First Transpennine Express stopping here.
We moved off from the centre of town, heading towards another Memorial just outside the town centre. On the way, we had to stop at some traffic lights outside the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church.
Another fine building built in the familiar Red ashlar stone which characterises so many of Scotland’s buildings. The Church dates back to 1875, and overlooks the B723 which runs from the Town Hall, past the Church and away from the town centre.
We left the town centre, and made our way out to the Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance over in Dryfesdale Cemetery, just outside the main town. We soon arrived at the memorial to the tragic Lockerbie Air Disaster of 1988, a despicable terrorist attack on a plane flying from Frankfurt towards the USA via London.
On December 21st 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the town after a bomb left on board detonated. The plane crashed into the centre of town, hitting a petrol station and causing an enormous explosion. On board were 243 passengers, and 16 crew, who all sadly died in the crash, along with 11 people on the ground in the town itself.
The first set of stones pay tribute to these local residents, who shall always be remembered here in Lockerbie.
Past these stones likes the main memorial, which includes the names of everyone on board the Boeing 747. Surrounding the memorials is a small park where residents, family members and others can come and pay their respects in quiet surroundings, alone with their thoughts. Only 1 person was ever convicted for the bombing, a Libyan National called Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was jailed in 2001 for his crimes. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2009 with terminal cancer, he was released on compassionate grounds and died in 2012. There are still questions about whether or not he really did plant the bomb, and unfortunately the truth may never be fully known.
Lockerbie is a lovely little town which was an innocent bystander in a tragedy that rocked the world, and shattered the lives of this peaceful area of South West Scotland. The victims shall never be forgotten, and Lockerbie shall move on, proud of it’s heritage, fine buildings and beautiful surroundings.
With a station on the West Coast Main Line it has good connections to Glasgow/Edinburgh, Carlisle, Lancaster, Preston and London, as well as Manchester/Manchester Airport. The A74 (M) runs past the town, and soon becomes the M74 which runs into Glasgow City Centre to the North, and becomes the M6 at the English border a few miles South of the town. Local buses also run to places like Dumfries and Gretna, situated on the Anglo-Scottish Border.
We moved on, to the neighbouring town of Lochmaben…