SOME Linlithgow residents have expressed their anger after the name of a historic pub was changed due to concerns over racial connotations.

“The Black Bitch”, the oldest pub in the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow which dates back to the 17th-century, has changed its name to something more “inclusive” to demonstrate its commitment to being an “anti-racist organisation”.

The pub’s current name refers to a centuries-old story about a black greyhound which remained loyal to its owner while he was imprisoned. The legend says the dog swam across Linlithgow Loch to take supplies to her owner who had been tied to a tree on an island within the body of water.

Greene King, the chain that owns the Linlithgow pub, has now decided to update the name to The Black Hound – saying the company “feels strongly” that it’s the right decision.

The company’s operations manager in Scotland told the BBC: "To put it into context, you wouldn't call a new business today The Black Bitch.

"We know that name was not originally racist or offensive. But its meaning over time has changed.

"The grouping of those two words together can be deemed, in today's language, as racist and offensive."

READ MORE: Emmanuel Macron called Boris Johnson 'un clown' and 'knucklehead', French reports say

Chain CEO Nick Mackenzie described the change as an “important decision”.

“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,” he said.

According to the pub chain, the decision to change the name came after consultation with groups in the area including the West Lothian Community Race Forum. Engagement with the community showed “many people would no longer feel welcome visiting a pub with that name”, according to the company.

Some local residents have reacted angrily to the move, with 2500 people in the town's population of 16,034 signing a petition against it, and the editor of Linlithgow’s Black Bitch magazine accusing the Greene King of “ignorance”.

“It should be absolutely clear to them what the Black Bitch refers to. We have provided a lot of information from various sources. This is an extraordinary decision,” said David Tait.

“There’s no better way to insult the people of Linlithgow than to go into this territory. People born within the sound of the bells of St Michael’s Church are known as Black Bitches and it is a great honour and a mark of a real Linlithgow person.

“Greene King own several pubs in Linlithgow. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a campaign against this, people do feel pretty strongly about it.”

Meanwhile Ian Gibson of Linlithgow Pubwatch said the name change is an example of “political correctness gone mad”.

READ MORE: Despite what Alex Salmond says, the case for Cambo makes no sense

Mackenzie and the company are firm in their decision to change the name to The Black Hound despite criticism from some locals, saying: “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.”

A planning application has now been submitted to the council to change the name on the pub sign.