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The Goth, as it is affectionately known in Prestonpans, was established in 1908 to encourage less heavy drinking amongst the local miners and brickworkers.

It was a product of the Temperance Movement at the turn of the 20th Century that advanced their cause by building fine establishments that deliberately bonused the landlord for selling food and non-alcoholic drinks. It was one of more than a score of such establishments created by the East of Scotland Public House Trust Company Limited, and amongst its investors was the famous Edinburgh Publisher, Thomas Nelson. At the time of his death in 1919 the chair of temperance houses were sold to a similar group in England, known as Trust Houses, which survived until 1970 when they merged with Forte, although The Goth itself had been sold to Bass/Tenant Caledonian in 1966. It cost just over 5000 to build and the land came originally from the barony of Prestoungrange. Several individuals owned The Goth in their own right after Bass itself sold out in the 1980s, but none could make a success of it after the closure of the mines and the brickworks. The final publicans were Scott Murray, the Lions and Scottish rugby star, and his father.

The founders in 1908 did more than simply seek to reduce heavy drinking. They believed in diversionary recreation and to this end all profit above 5% on the capital investment was available for distribution by Trustees in to the local community. Whilst WW1 intervened, over the decade some 100,000 at today's values went to local community causes. (A comparable institution at Newtongrange, Dean tavern, is still operating after 105 years and has, to date, allocated over Elm at today's values to local community activities).

The association with Gothenburg is straightforward enough. Mid-19th century Sweden had a major brandy drinking problem and laws were passed giving the cities their total control of the whole liquor trade (a total solution only attempted in Britain during WW1 in Carlisle and Gretna, which then lasted until 1970.) Gothenburg was the city, which seemingly produced the best way of handling these new powers; more particularly ploughing profits back to recreational facilities. It became the Europe wide role model.

The Baron Courts of Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun acquired the premises in 2001 to restore them as a bistro, a reborn Fowler's Ales microbrewery and a destination for events and parties. In addition, The Reborn Goth will be home to the Prestoungrange Arts Festival and all the related historical work the Baron Courts are engaged upon. The east of Scotland Public House Company has been revived with the same goals as in 1908 and the profits about the 5% return will go to the charitable work of the Baron Courts in the community. The microbrewery will bring many a nostalgic drinker to the bar to compare what now is, and what fading memories can recall. Anyone complaining too loudly will have his or her name taken to join the team creating the next brew. Some 80 gallons a week are planned at the outset.

Those who remember the building of old will know it has superb views across the Forth from the upstairs meetings areas. But vitally important architecturally are the art nouveau tiles and copperwork and Edwardian woodwork of the main bar. They are clearly a key focus in the restoration. If all goes according to plan, the doors of The Reborn Goth will open to serve its Prestonpans community once again from early summer 2003.

Detailed information on The Prestoungrange Gothenburg can be found in a specially produced publication entitled The Goth's first 90 years and the coming decade. Published by Prestoungrange University Press. Priced at 6.00 and available from:
Prestoungrange Arts Festival Society,
Unit 3 Cockenzie Centre

Published Date: December 20th 2002

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