The name Innerwick (of Anglo-saxon origin meaning inland farm or dwelling place) was presumably coined around the 7th – 9th centuries but discoveries along the coast indicate a continuous human presence in this area since shortly after the retreat of the icesheets that shaped the present day landscape. By the 12th century much of the parish had been acquired by a branch of the Stewarts, about the same time as which a church is first recorded. The Hamiltons succeeded to Innerwick Castle, with a branch of the Homes established at Thornton Castle; both were slighted during the Rough Wooing in the 16th century.
The parish of Innerwick extends from the coast (where there are minor settlements at Thorntonloch and Skateraw) to the Lammermuirs. The village of Innerwick is situated where the land begins to rise, affording prospects over the Lothian plain and coast. The parish is about ten miles in length and two to three in depth, extending to about 8800 acres. On the southeast it is bounded by Oldhamstocks, on the south by part of Berwickshire, on the southwest by Spott and the northeast by Dunbar; its coast faces northeast.
The fields on the coastal plain of Innerwick parish are counted amongst the best arable land in East Lothian. They were formerly extensively used to cultivate root crops, in particular carrots; potatoes, wheat and barley were also grown. A station on the main east coast line ensured that produce could be shipped rapidly. As the land rises more was and is devoted to pastoral use: dairy, beef and sheep. The highest parts were once the domain of the shepherd but are now extensively managed for shooting, forestry plantations and wind-farms. The population peaked at just under 1000 in 1831 and reached a low point of 347 in 1991; increase since is accounted for by residents at Thurston.
In the 19th century, the inhabitants of the parish looked to their community for support and entertainment. The period saw a flourishing of specialist societies – many people served as committee members or were otherwise involved. This list has been compiled from almanacs, guides and the pages of the Haddingtonshire Courier – more detail might be found by consulting our records.
|Itinerating Library (Brown’s) (two units)||Library|
|Friendly Society (formerly Funeral Society)||Friendly or mutual|
|Association for Churchyard Protection||Burial|
Within the parish, the three settlements of Innerwick village, Skateraw and Thorntonloch maintain their character, augmented by seasonal caravaners at Thorntonloch and the extensive Thurston Manor Leisure Park established in the 1990s on the policies of the old Thurston estate. Innerwick retains its school, the Victorian facility being retained as an outdoor education centre, and church (united with Oldhamstocks and Cockburnspath). However, none of the four or five shops recorded in the 1880s has survived. Similarly both the Post Office and railway station have closed. On the coast, Torness Nuclear Power Station dominates the view. Construction began in 1980 (not without controversy) and the station was commissioned in 1988. Just across the northwestern boundary of the parish the former quarry of Oxwellmains Cement Works has been reutilised as a land fill site with a proposed incinerator, which also causes local concern.
East Lothian Fourth Statistical Account 1945-2000: The parishes of Dunbar, Innerwick, Oldhamstocks, Spott, Stenton. vol 6
Alexander Somerville, Autobiography of a working man, London 1951