Early mentions of the place that came to be known as Bonnybridge name it as Ford of Bonny (Fuird of Bonny 1648) The part of the village on the south side of the River Bonny was also known as Bonnywater while the part on the north side was called Water of Bonny. The earliest record for the modern name comes from 1682 when it appears as Bonniebridge which may give some indication of the period in which the first bridge there was built. Bonnywater lay in the barony of Seabegs while Water of Bonny was in the lands of Seamore, a division of the barony of South Herbertshire. Throughout the greater part of its history the southern portion lay in the Parish of Falkirk as did the northern one until the seventeenth century when the parish of Denny was created. Bonnybridge only became an independent parish in 1878.
There are indications that a settlement has existed near the river crossing for several centuries. A motte structure, probably dating from the twelfth century, which lies within the grounds of Antonine Primary School, along with early mentions of St Helens Chapel in the area would seem to support this. Certainly, by the 1780s it is evident that a population large enough to warrant a school was living there and in the immediate vicinity.
The Radical Pend (photograph: Ronnie Blackadder)
A little way to the south east of Bonnybridge is Roughcastle Roman fort. It lies on a tract of land called Bonnymuir whereon the Falkirk Trysts were held for a short period after the division of Reddingrig and it was while the fairs were held there that the great bagpipe competitions began. It was on that muir in 1820 that a group of Radicals led by Andrew Hardie were confronted by Hussars in the action that came to be known as the Battle of Bonnymuir. The tunnel underneath the canal has long been associated with thsi event and today bears a plaque naming it ‘The Radical Pend’.
John Reid (2005)