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Another Year Aulder and Wiser? 1745 Battle Trust's 12th Report to the Community

The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust
Trustees 12th Annual Report for 2018

2018 has been a very significant year for the Trust – as it necessarily had to be! Activities concluded on September 15th/ 16th with the largest ever and most extensive weekend of commemoration, sharing and re-enactment. During the full 12 months, prolonged and determined work to win the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund [HLF] was undertaken and a Resilience Grant eventually obtained.

September 15th/ 16th Commemorations
The re-enactment weekends in Prestonpans now occur on an ‘East Lothian Battles’ triennial cycle and are conducted in partnership with the Scottish Battlefields Trust. They have been accorded continued support as an East Lothian Council Signature Event and designated as an EventScotland National Event. Additionally, this year VisitScotland’s Clan Events Fund gave support for the Dedication of the two Memorial Tables placed on the 1722 Waggon way, designed by Gareth Bryn-Jones and crafted by Gardner Molloy, with financial support provided by Viridor Credits and Barons Courts grants.

The weekend was important because for the first time an Entrance Donation was asked of visitors and much expanded provision of catering was achieved. Under the guidance of Martha Bryce’s PR staff impressive publicity was generated and well over 2000 visitors and re-enactors were involved in the myriad activities. These included the 5000 Paper Soldiers exhibition at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg and the display of The Prestonpans Tapestry at Cockenzie House. It was also a delight to see the replica 1722 waggon present at the re-enactment, and to identify with its Heritage Group the opportunities for joint activities in the coming years.

The two Memorial Tables are a splendid and much admired addition to the assets the Trust cares for, and they were the focus for the 2018 Call to The Clans to Come out for The Prince. Good to report that after considerable endeavour all Clans were Represented, which included the Chiefs of the MacGregors, the Robertsons and the MacDonalds of Glencoe and of Keppoch. They and all Representers were welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant and Provost of East Lothian at the conclusion of their Parade from Meadowmill to Greenhills.

Creating an Agreed National Manifesto for the Living History Centre
The rebuff by HLF in 2016 came with detailed feedback and continued dialogue all leading to an eventually successful application for funding for a Resilience Project. It is being conducted from August 2018/ July 2019 with the intended purpose of arriving at an Agreed National Manifesto, the delivery of which is likely to require a major fund raising campaign.

The inputs to such a Manifesto are threefold. Element [i] has involved the invitation to Dr Stephen Connolly of DC Research to conduct an External Audit on all that has been undertaken and achieved since we were established in 2006. A subsidiary component of the Audit is an assessment by an historic textiles specialist of the conservation requirements of our two tapestries. Element [ii] is being conducted by our own Sessional Staffs with the dual purpose of their own action learning and the conclusions they arrive at. It will involve a Comparative Evaluation of Successful Battlefield Interpretations and Tapestry Exhibitions globally. We wish to understand how they are sustained financially and by their communities.

These Elements will come together as a Draft Manifesto by end January 2019, for sharing across our own community of course but also nationwide. Once all feedback has been garnered the Agreed National Manifesto will be published as the basis for capital investment, howsoever raised. The accumulated funding the Trust holds from Restricted Donations will then be deployed to carry forward the campaign to make it happen. By this date the intended location and characteristics of our Living History Centre will be clear and East Lothian Council has pledged to work with the Trust to deliver it. We also hope that the new Centre can act as a hub for an International Jacobite Trail in partnership with the Scottish Battlefields Trust.

Requiem Mass for Prince Charles Edward and other activities during the year
January 2018 saw a unique occasion when the Trust arranged for a Requiem Mass on the 230th anniversary of the death of The Prince. It was celebrated by Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh at historic St Margaret’s Chapel, Gillis Centre, Edinburgh. The burial place of Colonel Gardiner at Tranent churchyard is also now commemorated with a new plaque.

The Trust gave its now customary support to the Derby Commemorations in December and the community-based Commemoration of 549: The Spanish Civil War at Prestonpans Town Hall in February. It was also a great delight to see Dunoon Grammar School arrange a comprehensive exhibition of tapestry panels – they had been successful participants in the Scottish Schools’ Diaspora Tapestry Project reported at St Giles’ Cathedral after the Global Tour was completed.

Protection of battlesite from development
After two years of uncertainty and community consultations, the anticipated MasterPlan for the future of the entire Cockenzie Power Station site, which includes the battlefield, was published in November 2017. In this the battlefield is designated to form a green lung in what is dubbed Zone 4, an outcome which is potentially satisfying for the Trust. However, the recommendations of the MasterPlan have not been adopted by East Lothian Council [ELC], a stance it maintained even when it subsequently purchased all the lands in question. Whilst it is much to the Trust’s satisfaction that InchCape’s plans for a SubStation are no longer proposed on the battlefield, ELC’s ability to determine its preferred alternative on the coastline has been taken out of its hands as the Scottish Government has deemed the decision as being of ‘national importance’ and accordingly called the application in for its own determination.

The strategy being pursued by ELC to seek an ‘outside’ developer for the entire Cockenzie Power Station site including the battlefield has now placed a planning blight on any possible return to agriculture. Even our requests for a short term lease so to do have been rebuffed as well as our preferred location for the two Memorial Tables, which gained Planning Consent but no authorisation to proceed from ELC.

Tapestries continue to attract large visitor numbers on tour
Both tapestries continue to attract large and admiring audiences wherever they are displayed – during 2017/2018 it has mainly been the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry. Exhibitions have been held at The Border Kirk in Carlisle, at Stanley ‘Cotton’ Mills and the tapestry is currently at Garioch Heritage Centre close by Inverurie for 4 months. That last connection augurs well for a future exhibition of The Prestonpans Tapestry there.

A decade of Volunteers and Sessional Staffs
It remains a source of surprise to many that the Trust’s achievements these 12 years are largely attributable to volunteers and sessional staff, who together have attracted more than £1m and 750,000 visitors. This pattern continues with the Alan Breck Regiment of Prestonpans Volunteers and countless others re-enactors, led by Dr Arran Johnston and Sharon Beck, providing so much to advance the Trust’s objectives. Dr Johnston somehow found the opportunity while completing his evaluative research on the Diaspora Tapestry to pen his fourth book on that theme – What Wouldn’t We Do for Scotland? He also led numerous Battlefield Walks and delivered School presentations and lectures. The Prestoungrange Gothenburg continues to act as a voluntary home to our administration and activities. This year it has increased the display areas for the Trust’s artefacts, most recently hosting Clan Nights and an exhibition of artefacts.

Finally, it is with the deepest regret we mourn the death of Andrew Hillhouse who, for almost a decade, had been our ‘official’ artist, portraying with uncanny accuracy scenes from the Battle of Prestonpans, which are widely admired. That contribution will forever live on, along with our fond remembrance of his unstinting active support for many of the Trust’s initiatives.

Published Date: October 5th 2018

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