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Calling all Museum, Science and History Postgraduates!

An exciting opportunity exists for a BSHS Engagement Fellowship with East Lothian Museums Service. We are seeking applications from graduates with a relevant degree for a Fellowship funded by the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS), to start early 2020. The successful Engagement Fellow will be based at the Museums Service HQ in Haddington. We have a fascinating collection historical medical instruments and textbooks that were used by a female GP in a local town. She worked during the 1950s and later, and the practices she performed in people’s homes have radically changed. Her story is not just one of the changing role of medicine in the late 20th Century, but also of the role of women in medicine, plus hers is an immigration story too. The successful Fellow will update the Museums database with information about the objects, and also has the opportunity to undertake oral history recordings and design and mount a small exhibition thereby gaining valuable transferable exhibition and communication skills. If you think this sounds the perfect opportunity for you in your early career in science history and or museum curation, please email for the role description and details of how to apply to [email protected]

Edinburgh, Lothians & Borders Archaeology Conference 2019!

Well folks, it is that time of year again! The leaves are turning wonderful shades of gold, russet and sunset orange; the geese are squawking and honking in their raggedy V’s overhead, there is a fresh chill in the air, lacing the spider webs with early morning frost.

Whilst the last vestiges of summer are still hanging on in our wonderful parks and gardens, and our memories of another successful East Lothian Archaeology and Local History Fortnight still linger in our minds, the changing of the seasons also allows us to look forward to what is next. And for us at the Archaeology Service, as we crunch through leaves on our way to work, and look out onto autumn skies across Haddington, we are looking forward to the annual Edinburgh, Lothians & Borders Archaeology Conference 2019!

We’ve got another jam-packed programme this year (yes, it’s also time for making jams and chutneys everyone!), full of exciting talks about the latest excavations and projects from this year, as well as continuing updates and the results of long term projects.

copyright AOC Archaeology Group

Who doesn’t want to hear about cursus and pit alignments in East Lothian, lost villages in Bunkle and bridges in Ancrum, the past lives of Leith and the origins of the Cowgate? What about grand buildings such as Panmure House and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, or the Borders landscape of the Whiteadder? And the final slice of pumpkin pie? Community archaeology and training at Black Bull Close.

copyright Addyman Archaeology

So if you want to cosy up with a hot drink, some good company and some marvellous mind-expanding archaeology, please do come and join us for the Conference on Saturday the 16th November at Queen Margaret University in Musselburgh.

You can find the full programme and details of how to book here: https://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/info/210596/archaeology/12109/archaeology_whats_on/2

Alternatively, Conference tickets are available on the day (although lunch must be pre-booked)

We hope to see you all there!

Days Out in the Past – Dunbar

For the good people of Dunbar, 3 September 1650 must have seemed as if the end of days had arrived. It was a wild stormy night of howling wind and rain, and then in the early hours of the morning came the crash and thunder of battle, as Oliver Cromwell’s army of Parliament fought a Scottish force just outside the town.

This was to be one of Cromwell’s greatest victories. His army had been forced to retreat to Dunbar, a dishevelled and outnumbered force that expected to escape in ships waiting in the harbour. But instead Cromwell spotted a weakness in the Scottish positions and ordered his army to attack. It was said that he rode about his regiments on a pony, biting his lip until it bled in nervous anticipation of the battle to come. Then when victory was certain, Cromwell was seen laughing uncontrollably as sheer relief began to set in.

The events of that day will be reenacted on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September as part of East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight. There will be encampments to explore and activities for all the family, before the two sides battle once again with the sounds of musket and cannon.

The aftermath of the battle was brutal, with Cromwell’s cavalry troopers mercilessly pursuing the fleeing Scottish soldiers. Some were taken prisoner and marched away to captivity in Durham, where gruesome evidence of their fate came to light a few years ago, with the discovery of mass graves.

An exhibition at Dunbar Town House Museum explains the back story of the graves, how they were discovered and the painstaking process of uncovering their history. The exhibition is open daily  between 1 – 5pm, until 30 September. A special event, CSI 1650, will reveal some of the techniques used by archaeologists and scientists to identify the bodies and piece together their story.

Dunbar itself has a real sense of place, with a wealth of historic buildings and a maze of narrow medieval closes leading off the High Street. One of these unique and atmospheric spaces will be opened up to the public, as part of an event on Wednesday 11 September. In Black Bull Close derelict buildings are being brought back to life by local social enterprise The Ridge. Recent archaeological investigations have revealed the fascinating story of these historic buildings, from their medieval origins to the Victorian period.

The Cromwell and New Harbours are also well worth visiting, still home to working boats bringing in the catch, and with many nooks and crannies to explore. The picturesque ruins of Dunbar Castle still dominate on the cliffs above the old harbour, but also look out for the Battery. Built in the 1700s to defend the town from the French, it has recently been restored as an outdoor venue. The Battery will provide the setting for a dramatic event commemorating the Battle of Dunbar on Friday 13 September.

Something to eat? There are lots of cafés to choose from on the High Street. A stone’s throw from the harbour are Creels Restaurant and the Volunteer Arms pub, both historic buildings built in the early 1800s.

How to get there? By bus – East Coast Buses X7. By train – Dunbar railway station is close to the town centre, served by Scotrail and CrossCountry trains. By car – off the A1 on the A1087.

Event details:

  • Battle of Dunbar 1650 Re-enactment Weekend, off Spott Road Dunbar, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September, 11am – 5pm, Adult £5 Child £3.
  • Bodies of Evidence from the Battlefield of Dunbar to Durham, Dunbar Town House Museum, exhibition until 30 September, open daily 1pm – 5pm.
  • CSI 1650, Dunbar Town House Museum, Saturday 14 September, 1pm – 4pm, for booking phone 01620 820699 or call in at the Dunbar Town House.
  • Restoring Buildings Restoring People: Community Archaeology at Black Bull Close, Wednesday 11 September, 7.30pm
  • The Soldiers of Dunbar 1650, Dunbar Harbour Battery, Friday 13 September, 7.30pm – 8.30pm.

Words: David Hicks

Days Out in the Past – Cockenzie

The coastal town of Cockenzie has an obvious living heritage, working fishing boats in its harbour, fish shops, curers and a boatyard lining the narrow lanes leading to away from the sea.

During the East Lothian Archaeology and Local History fortnight there is plenty to explore and get involved in in and around Cockenzie
Cockenzie harbour today …but once the harbour and town was a hive of industry

One of these living traditions is the box meeting, first established in 1813 by the Friendly Society of Fishermen of Cockenzie and Port Seton.  The box containing members savings, a financial safety net for those who fell on hard times, which was paraded through the town by the fishermen and their families.  The event still happens today, an occasion for the community to come together and celebrate their heritage.

Next to the harbour is James Dickson’s fishmongers and curers, a business established in 1921 and now something of a local institution. This family business has a fish shop in the Harbour Road, but their vans are also a familiar sight throughout East Lothian.

But it wasn’t just fish that was important to the town.  The Tranent – Cockenzie Waggonway was the first railway in Scotland, established in 1722 to carry coal from the mines to waiting ships.  Now a group of local enthusiasts have brought some of that heritage back to life, establishing a museum at the harbour.  For East Lothian Archaeology and Local History Fortnight they are inviting people to become an archaeologist for the day, as they try to uncover the hidden remains of a salt pan house dating back to 1630s.

The 1722 Waggonway group recreated a traditional salt pan in the grounds of Cockenzie house
Salt panning the traditional way at Cockenzie House

Another group of local activists are ensuring a future for Cockenzie House, an important survival from the town’s past that dates back to the 1600s.  It was originally built for the harbour master and for centuries was the home of the Caddell family, with an extensive garden and orchard.  This historic house is now run by a local charity, offering studio space to artists and a venue for weddings.  An exhibition space is open to the public, displaying the work of local artists.

The gardens at Cockenzie House are definitely worth exploring, with many nooks and crannies and surprising features.  Look out for the grotto built of lava stone, with the jaw bone of a whale decorating its entrance.  This quirky structure is the result of the Caddell family’s trade in salt with Iceland, with their ships using volcanic stone as ballast for the return voyage.

For East Lothian Archaeology and Local History Fortnight Cockenzie House will host a traditional skills festival on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September.  There will be demonstrations and a chance to have a go at stone carving, salt making, metal casting and signwriting.  Guided walks will lead visitors along the route of the old waggonway, and a special workshop with the Edinburgh Sketcher will focus on capturing the historic architecture of the town.

The Edinburgh Sketcher becomes the Cockenzie Sketcher for a day on the 8th September.
An example of the Edinburgh Sketchers work from Edinburgh

Just a short walk up the road is the hidden gem of Chalmers Memorial Church, one of Scotland’s most important arts and crafts buildings.  Its elegant and restrained exterior gives no clue about the decoration inside, which remains virtually as it was on its opening day in April 1905.  The open timber roof is decorated with blue and cream painted stencils of fishes and birds, and the chancel has delicate red and cream stencilling, altogether a truly striking design.  On Sunday 14th September this hidden gem will open its doors for a concert as part of the Lammermuir Festival, a unique opportunity to enjoy music in this distinctive setting.

Something to eat? Caddell’s Café at Cockenzie House is open every day and has fine views out over the gardens.

How to get there?  By bus – Lothian Bus 26.  By car – off the A1 on the B6371

Event details:

  • Waggonway Project Big Dig – Salt Pan Excavation, Friday 6 – Monday 9 September, 10am – 4pm each day
  • East Lothian Traditional Skills Festival, Cockenzie House, Saturday 7 – Sunday 8 September 11am – 4pm daily.
  • 1722 Tranent to Cockenzie Waggonway – guided tour, Saturday 7 September 11am – 12.30pm, to book e-mail [email protected] or phone 01620 827118
  • Edinburgh Sketcher in Cockenzie: Cockenzie House and Gardens, Sunday 8 September, 1.30pm – 4.30pm, to book email [email protected] or phone 07866 927 663
  • Quator Mosaiques II, Chalmers Memorial Church, Saturday 14 Sept, for more details see the festival website www.lammermuirfestival.co.uk

Words: David Hicks

Days Out in the Past – War Walks

These days East Lothian is known for its beautiful beaches and countryside, and it’s hard to imagine the place as the front line in a war.  But the traces of past conflicts are there, and with a little local help their stories can be revealed.

During both World Wars the East Lothian coastline was of great strategic importance, guarding the approach to Edinburgh and the naval base at Rosyth.  It was heavily defended against any possible attack and that has left its mark on the landscape.

Aberlady Bay is a quiet and peaceful nature reserve, but it also hides a wartime secret only visible at low tide.  In May 1946 two midget submarines were moored at the low water mark in the bay, to be used as target practice by the RAF.  Another surprising feature is the network of defences from World War II.  Today the concrete blocks that line the sides of the bay seem almost part of the landscape, perhaps a long forgotten art installation.  But they were built with a deadly serious purpose, to stop enemy tanks from advancing along the coast.

Tour some of the World War II defences of East Lothian on 3rd September
Miles of concrete blocks defended our coast during World War II

For East Lothian Archaeology and Local History Fortnight a special guided walk led by the local history society will take visitors to explore some of these defences, and cross the sands of the bay to see the wrecks of the midget submarines.

Aircraft were also key to defending the East Lothian coast, and it was back in World War I that an airfield was established near Drem, now home to the National Museum of Flight.  A group of enthusiasts have taken on the task of preserving a little of that heritage , lovingly rebuilding a World War I Sopwith Strutter biplane.  Normally kept under-wraps in the group’s temporary hanger at Congalton Gardens near North Berwick, the public will be allowed an exclusive view of this unique fighter plane as part of the Archaeology and Local History fortnight events.

Visit the reconstructed bi-plane at Congalton Gardens 4th Sept
World War I Sopwith Strutter

East Lothian was also a battleground in the 1500’s, as English and Scottish armies contested over the hand of the infant Mary Queeen of Scots.  English monarchs were intent on forging an alliance with Scotland through marriage, but when their plans were rejected they sent soilders north to force the issue, a period known rather ironically as the ‘Rough Wooing’.

In 1547 an invading English army reached Musselburgh before being confronted by the Scots.  The Scottish commander the Earl of Arran invited his English counterpart to settle the matter man to man, an archaic gesture from an earlier age of chivalry before cannons and gunpowder.  A guided tour led by volunteers from the Pinkie Cleugh Battlefield Group will take visitors along the route taken by the advancing Scots, starting from the Roman bridge and including the vantage point of Inveresk Church.

Following the battle, English troops garrisoned the town of Haddington, hoping to draw the Scots and their French allies into committing to a lengthy and costly siege.  When the Queens Consort Mary of Guise came to view the scene she strayed too close to the enemy lines, and English gunners opened fire killing sixteen of her followers and leaving the queen stricken with terror.  The reality of siege warfare of this time will be brought to life in a guided walk, led by Jon Cooper from the Centre for Battlefield Arcaheology.  Leading visitors into medieval closes, across the killing fields and into the trenches, he will reveal some of the shocking truths of how the siege was conducted.

Explore the Seige of Haddington on 6th September
The siege of Haddington was the longest in Scottish History

Something to eat? A short distance from Aberlady Bay, the village of Gullane has many places to eat.  The half-timbered Old Clubhouse pub was built in 1890 as the original clubhouse for Gullane Golf Club.  Tom Kitchen has also recently opened the Bonnie Badger, a pub and restaurant in a coaching inn dating to 1836.  In Haddington, Falko Konditormeister is located in a coaching inn dating to the 1700s. and the Waterside Bistro occupies a row of Georgian cottages with a fine view across the River Tyne to St Mary’s Collegiate Church.

How to get there? Aberlady Bay: By bus – East Coast Buses x5, 124 or x24.  By car -on the A198.  Congalton Gardens: On the B1347, close to the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune. Haddington: By bus – East Coast Buses x7, 106 and 107.  By Car -just off the A1.

Event details:

Words by : David Hicks

Days Out in the Past – Trapain Law

Trapain Law has an impressive presence, an unmissable ancient landmark that dominates the surrounding landscape – exactly the sort of place to find buried treasure.

One thousand five hundred years ago this was the power base for a local tribal chief, someone important enough to be a dealmaker with the Roman Empire. We have a little glimpse into that world because of a remarkable discovery made by archaeologists digging on Trapain Law exactly a hundred years ago.

What they uncovered was the largest hoard of Roman silver from outside the boundaries of the empire, over 250 pieces weighing in total over 20 kilos. 

The silver was once exquisite tableware, dishes, flagons and platters, the very finest quality produced in the Roman Empire. However each item had been hacked and flattened into many pieces.

The beauty of the objects no longer mattered, they were valued simply for the weight of silver they contained.

The hoard has been dated to around 450AD, the dying days of Roman Britain. The province was under attack from all sides, and it is likely that this collection of silver was simply a way of easing frontier diplomacy. The Romans commonly used bribery to help secure their borders, paying off tribes to ensure peace. Whoever ruled Trapain Law was someone the Romans wanted to maintain friendly relations with.

Now for the first time, some of the most important pieces from the Trapain Law hoard have returned to East Lothian, and can be seen in a special exhibition in the John Gray Centre in Haddington. Look out for the decorative figures of a panther and leopard which once formed the handles of wine flagons, and the bowl decorated with a sea monster. Silverware such as this is rare in the Roman world, let alone beyond the borders of the empire.

As part of East Lothian’s Heritage Fortnight https://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/info/210596/archaeology/12109/archaeology_whats_on, there are two unique opportunities to discover more about Trapain Law, the hoard and life in the last days of Roman Britain.

There is the chance to explore Trapain Law in the company of Dr Fraser Hunter from the National Museums of Scotland, an expert in the archaeology of Roman Britain. On Sunday 1 September he will lead a guided walk across the hill, telling the story of this remarkable historic site from Bronze Age hillfort to Roman frontier politics.

The Roman military will also be brought vividly to life in a living history event in Haddington on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September, featuring cavalry, artillery and displays of everyday life. For more details on this event watch for updates on the John Gray Centre’s website.

How to get there? For details of how to visit Trapain Law see the East Lothian Council Website https://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/.

Hailes Castle is also close by and well worth a visit, a picturesque ruin by the side of the River Tyne.

Event details:

  • The Treasures of Trapain, Sunday 1 September, 2pm – 4pm, for booking phone 01620 820690 or call in person at the museum, upstairs at the John Gray Centre.
  • Roman Encampment Family Weekend, Haddington, Saturday 31 August – Sunday 1 September, 10am – 4pm, for more details visit https://www.johngraycentre.org/

Words: David Hicks

Heritage to dig into – East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight

We are gearing up for Archaeology & Local History Fortnight, which will take place from August 31 to September 15. This year the programme is bigger than ever, with lots of events throughout the county. We’ve got excavations and exhibitions, walks and talks, workshops and open days… something for everyone interested in finding out about the history and heritage of East Lothian.

To find out more, download the programme and book an event click here.

This year we are lucky to have a guest blogger, David Hicks, who will be blogging here over the next few weeks all about the Fortnight events – watch this space!

It’s here! East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight, Sept 1 – 16!

Here at the Archaeology Service we are getting super excited for, yep, you guessed it folks….the East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight 2018!

That’s right, our annual fortnight is back, with a veritable bang this year, landing multitudes of exciting, fun-filled, and thought-provoking events in a place near you!

Organised by the Archaeology Service at East Lothian Council, but delivered by a number of amazing and enthusiastic local groups and individuals working across East Lothian, we’ve got everything; from welcome returns like the Big Waggonway Dig down at Cockenzie Harbour, (a big hit last year), to guided walks and talks through the lost gardens of Yester.

You can try a bit of time travel walking from the earliest humans to traces of Neolithic settlement and the WWII coastal defences at Aberlady Bay; or get stuck in learning some traditional building skills at the Traditional Skills Festival in Tranent. And with a big focus on Haddington this year as part of the Haddington 700 celebrations, there’s even more of a zing in the air, as we help to showcase our local town’s history and culture. So whatever floats your boat, there really is something for everyone!

To find out more and sign up to get involved, visit: https://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/archaeologyfortnight or pick up a programme in libraries and museums throughout East Lothian.

Diary of work experience with Museum Services June 2018

This week I was helping out the East Lothian Council Museum Service for my work experience. I did many different things at several different museums, and I am going to tell you what I did on each day.

MONDAY
Monday was the first day of my work experience, and at the start I was nervous about pretty much everything – where was I to go? What time was I to be there? What if I got those things wrong and embarrassed myself on my first day? Fortunately, those fears were allayed when I reached Museum Headquarters that morning and was told I was supposed to be there. I met my “supervisor” (just joking) Claire Pannell who told me my schedule for the day. Firstly, I was to help prepare for a tour that was coming to see the Museum Store (where all of the objects that are not being displayed in a museum are kept). I helped with setting out chairs, getting water for those coming, and helping to get biscuits to eat. Once we had done that, Claire drove me down to the John Gray Centre to see one of the paintings there. “The Hoeing of the Fields” be taken down and be put back up again later in the day. We then went back to HQ to meet those who were arriving for the tour. As Claire explained to the group what she did and what the threats were to the objects in the store were, I listened while reading about how to become a volunteer. Unfortunately, I am too young but it’s a good idea for the future. Once Claire was finished, we were off.
As we walked into the store, I couldn’t help noticing how much colder it was in there than the rest of the building. Despite the store still being about 16°C it felt icy and wondered how long we were going to be in there. My feeling of coldness was replaced by one of wonder as I saw all of the different objects in there, my favourite being the silver ring with a sapphire inlaid in it. Eventually however, it was time for the tour to end. As the tourists (in a certain sense) left, we packed up and had lunch. After lunch, we went back down to the John Gray Centre and I watched as they rehung the picture. After that, we went back to HQ, I collected my stuff and went home.

TUESDAY
On Tuesday morning, Katherine took me up to Prestongrange Museum so that I could see what happens there. I sat in on a Bookbug session, and was amazed to see the number of both adults and children there. As they sang, played and read, I couldn’t help feeling a bit astonished at the general good behaviour shown by the children. As I tided up, I was asked if I wanted to go on a tour of the museum. Obviously I did, so we went after lunch. As we walked, the tour guide, Margaret, explained about the history of the museum and showed me the beam engine. It was huge, and I was astonished as to how big it was, as even a spanner needed to make it work was about the height of me! After the tour, I got on the bus and went home.

WEDNESDAY
Wednesday was spent in the John Gray Centre. After exploring the museum and the photo exhibition, I was asked to create a question tour of a sort, using objects in the museum that were from Haddington for the Haddington 700 event. As I did that, I found it hard to keep a balance between making the object to find, and making the questions about it hard enough to be interesting yet easy enough so that children could find and then answer them. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was lunch time. After lunch, Katherine looked over the questions that I had written and said they were fine. I then started to look for cameras (specifically Victorian and Edwardian ones) on the John Gray website. Once I had found a few, it was 15:00 and time to go home.

THURSDAY
On Thursday, I caught the bus up to Dunbar. Katherine let me in to the Town House Museum and I saw the exhibitions that are on there. At 10:00, I went across the street to John Muir’s Birthplace to help with a P5 class from Gullane that were coming. When they arrived, I thought that they would be a noisy, disruptive class from how they were acting on the say in. But that was not true; they were generally polite, well-mannered and interested in John Muir. They did have basic knowledge gaps (like not knowing that New York was in in the USA), but that is to be expected with young children. When they left it was lunchtime and I enjoyed a nice walk by the sea. After lunch, I went back over to Dunbar Town House and met Fiona, who explained the exhibits to me so that I actually understood the art ones; (they’re worth a visit, you should go.) And I saw a video about the old outdoor swimming pool that was demolished in the 1980’s. Afterwards, I helped to start writing some questions for a new exhibition that is coming soon. Once that was done, I caught the bus home.

FRIDAY
Friday was the final day of my work experience, and I must confess that I feel a great deal of sadness that it can’t last longer. I wrote this blog today, whilst under the affliction of a cold, so I’m sorry if it’s a bit of a mess. I very much enjoyed my work experience week, and am now going to have to get ready to start S4. I learnt a lot about how museums operate, and about them and their contents history.  I hope to maybe volunteer one day in the future, when I’m old enough and not busy with exams, so hopefully I’ll see you again then.

Memories of The Pond and Pond Hall

Swimming has been a favourite summer pastime for as long as we can remember. In the early 20th century, outdoor swimming became increasingly popular with lidos scattered throughout the country, particularly in coastal towns. In the 1920s and 30s, recreational swimming became an increasingly popular pastime and more accessible to the public because of improved public transport and increased leisure time. Consequently, a relatively large number of outdoor swimming pools were built in Scotland, especially at sea-side locations in which seawater was drawn into these pools. Some of the seawater was cleaned out and refreshed naturally by the tide. Other pools were plain walled areas on the waterfront to provide a safe bathing space. In later times, more sophisticated heated baths emerged. This trend, however, disappeared when the facilities diminished and the lure of holidays abroad became more popular.
In Cockenzie & Port Seton, many local residents have fond memories of The Pond and the Pond Hall, which opened in June 1932 and was the focus of social life in the burgh for much of the period right up to the 1950s. The construction of The Pond and the Pond Hall, commissioned by the Burgh Council of Cockenzie & Port Seton, was initiated by Provost John Hall Weatherhead who recognised the need to emulate Dunbar and North Berwick. Therefore, the area was developed as a seaside resort with potential for business expansion and with the intention to fulfil present and future recreational requirements for Cockenzie & Port Seton. The intersection of Fishers Road and the line of the High Street became the chosen site. Costing at £10 000, the project was financed with £625 from the Burgh Council as well as personal and community donation of monies and materials, and voluntary labour over a period of two and a half years.
When it opened in 1932, The Pond had an Olympic standard pool measuring at 50 x 25 yards with changing cubicles at the east and west ends. The spectator capacity was at 1500 on both the north and south sides. There was also a 33 foot diving stage – the highest in Scotland – installed. This was an impressive feat by a small fishing village particularly because it happened during the Depression period. When the Pond Hall was completed in the following year, there were additional changing facilities, Council chambers, a library, a tearoom and a main function hall which accommodated 800 people. The hall also had a sprung ballroom floor, one of three in Britain, and was in continuous use for weddings, dances, and youth and church related activities. For this reason, the Pond Hall became the civic, social and recreational centre for the local community. During the 1930s, the opening of The Pond was also signified by long queues of children and adults from all over East Lothian. The exceptional facilities and reputation also made The Pond a key training venue for swimming clubs from all over Scotland. Amongst the frequent visitors were the Portobello Scottish and British Water Polo Champions.
The Pond and the Pond Hall remained open throughout the World War 2 years and became even more central to the community’s social and recreational activities. After the war, new community activities emerged. For example, in 1947, the Cockenzie Players staged their first production in the Pond Hall and such shows continued until 1961. In addition, the Cockenzie & Port Seton Bowling Club and Gala fund raising dances were also held there. The car park at the Pond Hall was also the annual venue for the crowning of the Gala Queen, and this attracted large crowds from across the county.
In 1949, the swimming club (originally formed in 1928) was restarted and by 1955 it had a membership of 400. The 1950s also witnessed the resurrection of swimming galas with frequent visitors like Peter Heatley, a Commonwealth gold medallist diving champion, and local club diver, A. McNeil from Tranent. Floodlit bathing was also introduced in the 1950s, and there was dancing every Saturday night in the Pond Hall. In December 1953, a clock tower was unveiled on top of the Pond Hall. It was donated by public subscription in memory of Dr John Black, a former medical practitioner in the town, who lived in Link Roads for many years.
By mid 1960s, there was a major decline in the swimming club activities. As the years passed, the amount of essential maintenance and upgrading increased. In 1973, the Burgh Council recognised the need to modernise and upgrade the facilities. However, due to strict budget controls, no further steps were taken by East Lothian District Council. Investment and maintenance of the pool, from then on, was affected. By the 1980s, new indoor swimming and leisure facilities were developed in Dunbar, North Berwick, Haddington and Musselburgh. The state of The Pond, however, continued to decline. And when the Port Seton Community Centre in the King George V Park opened in 1994, it became increasingly evident that The Pond and the Pond Hall facilities were no longer as appealing as they had once been. With attendances failing, and costs running at £12 per swimmer, it was no longer economically justifiable for The Pond and the Pond Hall to stay open in 1994. Finally, a decision was made to convert the Pond Hall site into a housing development.
In spite of a 4000 signature petition and business letters of support, the Pond Hall was demolished in December 1995. Although the District Council was sympathetic to the community’s wishes to hold on to this significant piece of their heritage, refurbishing the Pond Hall was considered to be too costly and unnecessary especially since other sports developments were available in the surrounding area. With the closure of the Pond Hall, the Dr Black Clock was moved to Hart Estates, Macmerry for safekeeping.