There are several pump wells in these gardens, all bubbling
up with abundance of delightfully pure spring water. No
doubt these wells were put down in past ages as a means
of doubly supplying the brewery.
ROPE AND SAIL MAKING.
own one of these old wells, of which we have had occasion
already to speak, there is an opening right across, through
which the water flows incessantly, emptying itself into
the Forth. Some suppose this to be an old coal mine which
had been worked by the monks, on the " in-gaun-ee "
system from the shore. This would have been quite in keeping
with the ways of these early explorers; but no coal seam
comes so near the surface at the east end, and the fact
of the opening being so nicely and compactly built is a
sure sign that it is only a built water course. By the way,
we find a great stone quarry had been opened at an early
period to the south-west of the garden. Very likely (he
stone taken from this quarry spoiled the springs which supplied
the well, and the consequence was that the course had to
be built in order to carry the water on again towards the
well. Thus the overflow opening into the Forth is easily
Whether the twining and twisting industry of rope making was
inaugurated in Salt Preston during the early centuries, we
are not aware; but this we do know, that about 1750 a family
of Stevensons, migrating from Dunbar, alighted in Prestonpans,
and forthwith taking possession of that same old by-path along
the south back of the village, began to twine and twist there,
where twining and twisting operations are conducted in the
presence of every observant eye, even at the present day.
About 1801, Mr Robert Clark, grandfather to the brothers constituting
the present firm, and also from Dunbar, succeeded the Stevensons
in that business. About this period the business began to
improve very much, especially in fishing lines. Air Clark,
pushing his way all along the Moray Firth, did an exceedingly
large business there. Latterly the firm pushed its way into
the Orkneys, and did also a good business among the islanders.
Throughout all these years the improvements in machinery did
these "hand-spinners" at Prestonpans very little
harm: even up to the year 1880 they still kept up a staff
of from thirteen to fifteen men and boys; but trawlers beginning
to operate in the Forth and elsewhere soon began to tell upon
the fishermen everywhere, and this branch of business in Prestonpans
began to deteriorate greatly. The firm Clark Brothers still
retains a strong connection with Campbeltown and several other
outlying districts; and that they >till retain a solid
business connection among the fishermen of Cockenzie, Prestonpans,
and Fisherrow, may be evidenced from the fact that the whole
body of twiners are nightly engaged at the present time, in
the open air, long after the light of day has deserted them.
One evening we came upon them at work. " Oh, ho !"
was our exclamation, " we thought naething but fairies
worked in the dark. '' " Ay ay, " was the ready
response of the youth encountered, " but we are spiders!
behold how we spin. '' The liliputian flywheel bounded, some
knickknacks began to birr, and away he went twisting and twining
through the gloomy air like fury. " Sailmaking, "
which has always been part of this firm's business, has never
been much at a discount with them, and at the present day
it is going on as briskly as ever.