Fo­cus On: East Loth­ian ...............................................

From the coast to the coun­try in East Loth­ian

No. 1 Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Pre­ston­grange’s links with min­ing go back nearly 1,000 years and the col­liery, which closed in 1962, in­cluded the first deep shaft in Scot­land sunk to the depth of 420 feet (128m). In fact, it was first called the Na­tional Min­ing Mu­seum be­fore re­vert­ing to its cur­rent name of Pre­ston­grange In­dus­trial Her­itage Mu­seum in 1992. The name de­rives from the me­dieval vil­lage of Pre­ston or “Priests’town” and “grange” refers to a farm be­long­ing to a re­li­gious house. How­ever, the Pre­ston­grange we know now bears tes­ta­ment to an in­dus­trial past, not a ru­ral one. For cen­turies, the sur­round­ing area was the hub of in­tense in­dus­trial ac­tiv­ity, with glass works, a pot­tery, soap works, in­dus­trial ce­ram­ics, col­liery and brick­works pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment. All these in­dus­tries have left their mark on the land­scape and while the mu­seum brings back those heady days of man­ual toil and labour, the site is now a haven for wildlife. It’s fam­ily friendly to a large ex­tent with ac­tiv­i­ties, in­door and out­door games and the grounds are also used for lo­cal events, ex­hi­bi­tions and the­atri­cal per­for­mances. But it’s best to take a guided tour with one of the mu­seum’s knowl­edge­able staff to find out about this part of East Loth­ian’s role in Scot­land’s in­dus­trial age and the her­itage left in its wake. REACH FOR THE SKIES The small vil­lage of East For­tune would never have found fame had it not been for the air­field sit­u­ated close by. And had the air­field not been cho­sen as the site for the Mu­seum of Flight in 1975 by the Na­tional Mu­se­ums of Scot­land, it might have suf­fered the same fate as many ob­so­lete air­fields, with weed-strewn run­ways and tum­ble­weed. Now it’s a vi­brant tourist at­trac­tion, with dis­plays of both mil­i­tary and civil avi­a­tion and vir­tual re­al­ity in­ter­ac­tive gal­leries. Pic­nic ta­bles are dot­ted across the air­field so the whole fam­ily can make a day of it. Es­tab­lished in 1915 as a fighter and air­ship air­field be­fore be­com­ing, on the for­ma­tion of the Royal Air Force in 1918, the tem­po­rary base of the No 22 (Train­ing) Group RAF. One of the air­field’s ear­li­est claims to fame was in 1919 when the Bri­tish air­ship R34 made the first east­west cross­ing of the At­lantic, fly­ing from East For­tune to Mi­ne­ola, New York. The in­ter­ven­ing war years saw part of the site used as a tu­ber­cu­lo­sis sana­to­rium. Af­ter the Sec­ond World War, the run­way was ex­tended to take Amer­i­can bombers dur­ing the Cold War but was never used for this pur­pose sand when Turn­house Air­port was closed in 1961 for con­struc­tion work, air traf­fic was di­verted through East For­tune.

ALL HAIL NEWHAILES The Na­tional Trust for Scot­land are putting a Loth­ian trea­sure back on the map. Newhailes House might not en­joy the fame and pop­u­lar­ity of Bowhill House or Drum­lan­rig Cas­tle, for in­stance, but it’s the job of the Na­tional Trust for Scot­land who took over the prop­erty in 1997 to put it on the tourist map. And that’s ex­actly what the Trust is do­ing. Plans are un­der­way for a £2.5 mil­lion re­vamp where the grounds will be re­stored to their 18th cen­tury look and im­proved fa­cil­i­ties for vis­i­tors will be in­stalled. Even now, guided tours are avail­able on a daily ba­sis so it’s strongly ad­vised that you to get down there at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity. It’s lo­ca­tion just to the west of Mus­sel­burgh makes ac­cess rel­a­tively easy by car or public trans­port. Some stately homes never re­flect any sense of be­ing lived in. Some are stark shells bereft of any per­son­al­ity and some are hugely or­nate and over-dec­o­rated. Nei­ther of these de­scrip­tions could you place at the door of Newhailes House which has a charm all of its own. It’s un­pre­ten­tious, smaller than one might think, full of char­ac­ter and full of or­na­ments – in­clud­ing chipped saucers – that give it a de­light­ful charisma and give you an idea of life in the house over the cen­turies. Yes, it might be slightly worn round the edges but I feel that gives it a dis­tinct per­son­al­ity. It was the home of the Dal­rym­ple fam­ily from the early 18th cen­tury to 1997 and was orig­i­nally bought by Sir David Dal­rym­ple, 1st Baronet of Hailes in 1709 for £27,000 or £2.5 mil­lion in to­day’s terms. Tak­ing his ti­tle from the fam­ily es­tate in Hailes, East Loth­ian, Sir David changed the house’s name from White­hill to New Hailes. There are two things that strike you when you visit the house. One is the sym­me­try, the other is the depth of the build­ing which is only one room deep – and not a very big one at that. Per­haps the most im­pres­sive room in the build­ing is the li­brary wing, started by Sir David and com­pleted by his son, Sir James. While the col­lec­tion of books is now housed in the Na­tional Li­brary of Scot­land one can un­der­stand why Dr Sa­muel John­ston, writer, lit­er­ary critic and moral­ist, called it the “most learned draw­ing room in Europe”. The wn­dows on the out­side are painted on, to give the in­te­rior much wall space as pos­si­ble. With this wing built, and keen to main­tain the build­ing’s sym­me­try, Sir James bal­anced it with an apart­ment wing, to which en­try is gained via the din­ing room, com­plete with four mas­sive col­umns and painted a cam­ou­flage green. With pro­posed in­vest­ment, it’s go­ing to look like a to­tally new Newhailes. The ren­o­va­tion in­cludes restora­tion of the his­toric Doocot to in­clude new fa­cil­i­ties aimed at fam­i­lies, along with land­scap­ing that will pro­vide vis­i­tor ameni­ties and cater­ing fa­cil­i­ties, plus the plant­ing-out of a com­mu­nity and vol­un­teer-led kitchen gar­den.

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