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AS I REMEMBER - Janet Naysmith (nee Cunningham) 1903-1995

This document was written by my Gran shortly before her 90th birthday. Both she and her daughter Agnes (1930-1999), my Mum, are greatly missed but forever loved - Dr Ronnie Wallace
The earliest or my memories go back to the Christmas of 1907 when I and my younger sister received two beautiful dolls, my one being dressed as a Fishwife while Jean's as a kilty. We also found in our stockings a pink silk tic. a Santa Claus hanky, a penny and some coal cinders. I attended Cuthill school in 1908 on the site of what is now Inchview North. I can still picture my infant school teachers. Miss Cox and Miss Meanzies along with headteacher Miss Smith. I was particularly fond of Miss Cox. who was my first teacher. At school we did not get out of the gate until Miss Meanzies gave us permission due to the death of a boy in 1910. Other children and I actually witnessed the boy. Graham, being killed by a car (an impression which never leaves you no matter how old you become). the first private car I ever remember seeing. We played all sorts of games in the middle of the street outside our doors.
Living in Middle Street Cuthill. Lady Susan Grant Suttie would visit the church families. If at times things were hard for the miners families, we children would be sent to the kitchen door of Prestongrange House for a pitcher of roast dripping. On the day of Lady Susan's funeral, as a mark of respect, we were taken from school and lined up at East Lodge gate on Prestongrange Road to mourn as the horses and college passed by. I don't remember any of her family, however. I do remember the Wrights who worked in the house. Mr Wright was head-gardener and passed away sometime during the Great War. At that time troops were billeted in the horse stables and out-buildings. I can remember only two of the maids, the eldest of whom was Mr Wright's daughter. Mary. and the other being Mrs Mima Monro. whose husband. Willie was a plumber. Willie's father owned the plumber's business next to Don's the Chemist on Chemist Wynd. Years later I was a home help to Mrs Monro and delighted in her stories of life in the big house and I absorbed many useful hints from her.
A milestone for the Prestonpans folk was the first tramcar to the town in 1909 which was made possible by the extension of the track from Levenhall to the foot of Prestongrange Road. As this was such a big event people from the west end of town gathered to see it arrive. It was not long until the line went all the way to Cockenzie. A journey to the capital involved changing trams at Joppa since Musselburgh and Edinburgh districts had independent tram systems. During the war years the tram company employed women drivers and conductresses, many of whom later married locals and settled in Prestonpans. The tram service was mainly used by people who worked in the city as most goods could be bought locally.
As my Father was working in the mines at Denbeath. near Methil. all our family moved across the Forth to Fife in late 191 I to be near him. Times were hard during the 1912 strike and so we used the soup kitchens. I lived in a crowded house with my Mother and Father, four brothers and sisters. my Granny and Granda. three Aunts (one of whom was crippled in an accident as a young girl), my Father's brother. Alex Cunningham and a young man we called 'Uncle'.
On 1st January 1914. my maternal Granny Jenny died. thus my parents went across to Prestonpans to be with my Mother's family at the funeral. By the end of the First week in January 1914. my Father had a job in Prestonlinks pit and so most of the family moved to our new house at 62 High Street. Prestonpans. I was left to do errands for my Grandmother. Two of my aunts were married. Maggie in 1912 and Lizzie in 1913. Maggie lived in Denbeath but Lizzie was already back living in Crown Square at the cast end of Prestonpans. By July of that year my Grandparents and the others were also back in Prestonpans because at that point work in the mines and houses were more easily come by.
During the time my sister and I spent at school in Denbeath, we received free school books and a square school bag (which lasted throughout my time at school) from the Carnegie Trust Fund. A concert was held at Christmas and a large tree was covered with gifts for all the children from Lady Eva Wemyss. There was a difference in those days from county to county, for example between 1908 and 1914 whilst attending school in Prestonpans. we had to pay for our exercise and homework books. At Red School. Prestonpans, the headmaster was Mr Wallace and Bowes was the janitor or the whipper-in as we called him. My first teacher was Miss Donaldson and my qualifying teacher was Miss Smith from Northfield Cottage who groomed us well. Going on to supplementary class, we had Mr Aitken and the much respected assistant to Mr Wallace. Mr Prentice. Miss Donaldson. who by now was Mrs Kilpatrick. was promoted to Mr Aitken's class when he was called for military service. Mr Prentice was appointed head on Mr Wallace's retirement. Other teachers I remember were Miss Cockburn who lived at Preston and Miss Hogan who resided with the Black family in the Camperdown building. My sewing teacher, Mrs Clark. was at heart a very gentle person but if you did not take her mild warnings seriously she would threaten to use the belt. However she rarely used it as we obeyed her. The First items I made. (being hand sewn each took over a year) were a pillow case and a lap bag made with printed material bought by my Mother. I established several life-long friendships at school, two of whom were with Anne Steele. later Mrs Paton. and Joan Sinclair (Mrs McLeod) both of whose golden and diamond weddings I attended.
I have a wee secret to tell about the time when I was living at Granny's in Front Street. Cuthill. On my journey to and from school I passed a shop in Leven House, rented by a lady called Aggie Bagnal. One Monday morning I had my Sunday penny and so had gone into this shop. which had a fruit machine, to buy sweets. Being a bit brave, as I thought. I put my penny in the machine and was shocked to find twelve tokens come rumbling out. I asked. "What am I going to do without being found out?" Aggie suggested that I leave it with her and I could have sweets every day until the money was spent. I enjoyed the sweets but I had had such a fright that I did not put any more pennies into that machine.
I felt both fear and respect for Granny as she made me work very hard even morning. I had to get up between six thirty and seven a.m. because before going to school I had to go to the well at the wee post office (on Front Street) to collect two pails of fresh water: go to Todds'. the bakers, for one dozen rolls for Granda coming in from the pits for his breakfast, clean out the Fire and empty the ashpan. After Sunday School, in the mission hall between Cuthill and Summerlee. I would change my Sunday clothes and fill up two barrels with the water for Monday wash-day. Although there was always some rain water in one of the barrels, it still took twenty-two pails of water, in total eleven journeys to the well since I carried two at a time for baIance.
When the war broke out in 1914. the 8th Voluntary Royal Scots were marching through the High Street having just returned from camp. I recall this event well as my young aunt and the rest of our family had watched her husband pass by. My aunt's joy at seeing her husband again was tempered by the fact that he was called back into regular military service on the Monday. The following Saturday they were dispatched from the Drill Hall on Harlaw Hill and inarched through the town. passing by their wives and sweethearts, before being posted to France. The fact (hat almost every family had someone serving in the forces helped unite the community over this troubled period. Virtually even Sunday the organist. Miss Mar)' Wallace, had to play a lament with someone deputising when one of her own family was 'on the list'. When the Wallaces moved away their house was taken over by Major Rowan who had it bought for him by Edinburgh Colliers where he was General Manager. When he and his two sisters passed away his retarded son was left in the care of their much respected maid. Mary Skinner who had travelled with them from Fife. Mary and the lad moved to a second home where the boy fell fatally ill. leaving Mary on her own. Although she had made many friends, she moved for a final' time. where she passed away peacefully, another era gone.
At the foot of Prestongrange Road a children's park was constructed in 1915 from a piece of Iand belong to the estate. This park had proper swings in it as opposed to just a rope hung from a tree. I will not forget our first Grange miners gala held there, when we were given tea and a bag of sticky buns. Prize races were organised at the event, I came first in my age group and received a dressing set comprising a brush, comb and mirror. The miners at Prestonlinks had a gala day of their own which allowed me to have another shot at winning a prize. In the same year my third brother died very suddenly with meningitis. My Mother was not keeping so well and had had a still-born baby boy. so I came to 62 High Street and Jean went to live with Granny: I was happy to be with my Mother again.
In the summers of 1914 and 1915, during the school holidays, we spent many happy days scrubbing rocks, wading in rock pools and playing at houses and shops which involved going along to the back of the pottery for broken teapots, pie dishes and also ashets (since we used to break sandstone finely for pretend-sugar).
In June 1916. I asked the headmaster for an exemption form which my Mother filled in and returned. With the headmaster's assistance I was exempt from school as the family first help (on the condition that I attended night school). Thus on Friday 20th June 1916. I left school at the age of twelve years and eleven months and started work on the following Monday at the market gardens for eight shillings a week. The problem with this type of work was that if the weather was bad there was little available outside: workers thus relied on the grieve (foreman) keeping small jobs aside that could be done indoors. I also worked in Meek's Orchards next to the cemetery. The Meeks owned the Iand by the railway up to Maggie's Acre which was near PIantation, nearer Cockenzie than Prestonpans. Although I enjoyed my job there alongside my nine workmates plus the grieve, I have one regret: the other young girl. Anne Edmond, and myself would fetch and carry for all the others but not for one older person who had a rather grumpy nature. I would act more feelingly towards her now: but never a chance comes twice. In 1917 when I was 14. I started work in Prestongrange pithead. cutting wood for props to be used to support the mine walls and roof. I was working there in 1918 when a tramcar passed with flags announcing that the war was over. The people's jubilation at this news carried on through the celebrations that went on into the night.
During the war. many a girl was put to shame for being too trusting and a few were put into mental care. The Registrar took care of administrative costs, still most of these young healthy women had to work hard for their keep. One. whom I knew very well. escaped from such an institution in Haddington and managed to keep her movements secret for six months. As she had been able to maintain herself for that time she was set free from the institution and later married, she was one of the lucky ones. In the summer of 1917 a Zeppelin aircraft came up the Forth and dropped bombs over targets in Edinburgh. Our family managed to sleep through all the commotion that ensued outside, except my father, who. however, also remained oblivious to the situation as he was down the mine on nightshift. When I went to work next morning I discovered that all my workmates had watched the Zeppelin's progress up the Forth which had been used as a guide by the enemy. My friends could not believe that we had all slept so well.
After (lie war the young men who had survived came back home. however Prestonpans. like all other small towns, had lost a lot of its sons. With the men returning there began to take place in the town hall several enjoyable dances including Iancers, reels, waltzes and square dances. At about this time the Fish and chip shop re-opened, it had closed when the owners moved back to Italy on the eve of the outbreak of war. On his return, the proprietor asked a few girls, including myself, to work for him. The main girls were the Gunns and another two who later became full-time. Our hours were 7 pm till 10.20 pm being paid nine shillings a week. a very good wage since we were all able to keep our daytime jobs. When we Finished at night he would give each of us a large bag of Fish and chips. This went down well at home particularly among my brothers who really enjoyed these feasts.
During my teenage years dancing and the pictures were young people's main source of entertainment. The dances, or assemblies as they were also known, generally started at l0 pm on Friday nights and could go on until 5.30 am. Thus we had just enough time to get home. changed and have something to cat. Most of us had to be at work for 6.30 am on the Saturday which was a half day. thus we could afford to miss out on our beauty sleep. On other weekdays the dances would stop much earlier. At sixteen or seventeen years old you didn't seem to get exhausted and could always manage to keep going, one night it would be the drill hall and next the town hall. The entry fee for the dances was threepence for ladies and sixpence for gents, or if you preferred you could have a front seat in the picture house for threepence. The picture house was next to a block of houses containing Monro's plumber shop. Whitelaw's grocer and Don's chemist, all of which have been replaced by the current Co-op drapery and chemist. The town-cryer. Mr BelIany. would announce every week the forthcoming entertainments organised for the town. including which Films were to be shown in the cinema. He also gave exact details of when. where and for how long the water supply would be shut off in the town. As a result, women and children could be found queuing at the wells. His other duties were to clean the streets and to make sure all the street lamps were lit at night.
This paragraph and the next describe the layout of the High Street prior to 1920. The north side began with Jenny Law's house and shop. Mrs Carson's sweetie shop (later Jock Nelson's): Miss Rennie's baby linen shop: the Black Bull pub: Miss Mary Rodger's confectionery: Reid's Beehive stores managed by Mr Anderson: Laidlaw's newsagent: Curnow confectionery (later occupied by Miss Bathgate) and the main Co-op building, a very busy place, which dealt in everything from selling tallow, paraffin oil. butchery, groceries, dressmaking, tailoring, boot repairing to baking bread, rolls and teacakes: Cadona's picture house where on New Year's Day the children received an orange going into the matinee: Mr Whitelaw's licensed grocer: Monro's plumber shop: Dons' chemist: Aldhammer House: McKenzie the barber: Bank House and Black's the ironmonger. Where the War Memorial now stands used to be a killing house for Greig the Butcher whose cottage was nearby. Beyond the wynd a Frenchman. Mr Veitch. had a small baker's shop where he prepared the pies which he sold in different places from a big square basket while his wife remained in the shop. Further on we come to Greig's butcher shop, another close, several houses and then the new shops. the First of which was a dairy owned by Mr and Mrs Murray who were very nice to children, giving them a half penny worth of broken biscuits or even the same value of brown sugar: these were luxuries. The new two shops belonged to Fraser the joiner and his wife Roy who sold vegetables, ice cream, sweets, groceries and even teas to visitors in the summer. Adjacent to these shops was another licensed grocer. James Cunningham: then two houses, later taken over as shops: Mr Smith the newsagent. who. like Laidlaw's further back the street, also sold toys: Commercial Bank: BorIand's shop and house: a ladies and gents drapery: SutherIand's coal merchants: Doig the Butchers: Mag Greig's and Buchanan's wee dairy shop which later became Gibbons jeweller and watch repairer. A few yards on. across the street from the post office where Miss Cunningham resided in an upstairs flat. stood the Fish and chip shop and the Blacksmith's place. After the Wall close and Barries there was yet another licensed grocer. Peter Cunningham. and finally the last shop on the north side. Wull Rennie's the baker.
On the south side of High Street we First come to the house of Brodie Allison who was to open a wee shop in a hut. similar to the place near my infant school in Cuthill. The Allison's home was in the Garden: from records it turns out that their house used to belong to a widow who was killed by her lodger. I was very. very young at the time of this murder and so only have a faint recollection what happened afterwards. Brodie Allison's married name was Huniford and she herself was widowed during the war. There were no other shops on the south side until the Gothenburg (built in 1908) unless you were to walk up Front Street where Mrs Gray had a sub-post office and Mrs Nisbet sold groceries and cheques for the co-operative to poor families, collecting the money on pay day. For taking this risk Mrs Nisbet received a dividend from the Co-op. Another option for the less well-off was to contribute to the Co-op savings scheme which allowed them to buy goods on credit that could be paid off weekly using a 'store book'. The Co-op also had bakery and butchery vans that would travel around the town and district to save us from queuing in the store. Mrs Nisbet's husband was killed in a mining accident which left her to look after four daughters and eight sons. three of whom were killed during World War Two. The remaining sons and daughters all had families in Prestonpans. with the exception of two. who moved away. Back on the High Street, next to the Gothenburg was Turnbull's licensed grocers: McKinlay's dairy (a Mrs McKinlay. of no relation to the dairy owners, sold sweets and toffees from her home which was near the gasworks): Todd's bakery in the old Salvation Army Hall: a boot repair shop run by a crippled man called Mr Hood who lived in the adjoining house: Leven House (where the aforementioned Aggie Bagnal and husband Joe resided) which was later purchased by the Co-op to convert the two ground floor flats into a barbers and confectionery, altering the frontage: the Town Hall: Mr Wilson's drapery and dressmakers: the Royal Bank of Scotland: Miss Inglis' confectioners: Miss Greig's dry salters that sold oil. distemper, paper etc. and the Railway Tavern run by Sutter (pronounced Sooter). Where Ayres Wynd cuts the High Street. Mrs Thomson advertised her shop. which was the nearest to the school, by placing various bottles of sweets in her window, while on the corner Mr Hume had a licensed grocer. Situated on Ayres Wynd Mrs ClelIand's dairy produce outlet which was gleaming white: Kennedy's licensed grocery: Anne Grundison's. 'Grundies' greengrocer and Mr Bryce the bootmaker and repairer. The Queens Arms was owned by the two Miss Grants and managed by Mr Pow who also groomed and hired out horses with brakes (buggies). This was very popular with families for going on day trips to GulIane and North Berwick. Once more on the High Street, in an upstairs house Mrs Home and her daughter ran the First telephone exchange: on the corner at the foot of Rosemount. Mrs Brown and her daughter sold boilings and mixtures of sweets from their kitchen: two shops on the South Barries. one owned by Robertson and the other by McNab. To complete the list of businesses in the town - four public houses, six licensed grocers and numerous confectioners.
Although Prestonpans was not a large town it did have its own Burgh council which consisted of High Street. Kirk Street. East and West Sea Side and East and West Loan. The county covered the western districts of Cuthill. Morrison Haven. Summerlee Street and Preston which consisted mainly of agricultural farm cottages and larger properties that employed maids. The Burgh council tended to be run by business men and intellectuals, such as Mr Wallace the headteacher and Mr McNeill who owned the Penny Pit. On the site of the Penny Pit. after its closure, a small pottery was erected which made small, painted crest ornaments and china. Only the town clerk and the solicitor were paid for their services to the burgh, whilst other councillors only received expenses as they served on a voluntary basis. In the twenties, other organisations began to spring up which increased local interest in the running of the town. These groups included the men's IDLP (Independent Labour Party), the Women's Labour Guild, the Women's Co-op Guild and the Eastern Star Order. I noticed that the formation of these latter organisations seemed to make women more independent.
In the early twenties the Burgh council started a building programme. Previously, from Kirk Street to Preston, with the exception of the Mary Murray Home for girls, had been fields. The 'Mary Murray' girls wore uniforms, were educated by their own teachers and attended church every Sunday. Filling the front two scats alongside their mistress and matron. A few visited Marion Ormiston and her mother who were good neighbours of mine for the nine years I stayed at 67 High Street. The Mary Murray home held a reunion every year for all the girls who had left the home at the age of sixteen prepared for service as domestics. Some of the girls were employed locally eg by Dr McEwan of Walford House. For many years, on the wall of his waiting room. two text pictures hung, one with the saying.
" If you worry you do not trust,
If you trust you do not worry",

and the other of John Wesley's rule.

"Do all the good you can,
By all the ways you can
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can ".

The building construction began with Wilson Avenue, so called after Mr Wilson the draper who was provost at the time. The county went on to build Gardiner and Polwarth Terraces while the Edinburgh Collieries added Oswald Terrace. Nimmo Avenue and North and South Crescents, all of which was to the advancement and good of the people of Prestonpans. The Summerlee and Cuthill districts along with the houses at Morrison Haven did not have indoor running water until after Bath Street was adjoined to Summerlee Street between 1922-23. then bathrooms and kitchens were added to these homes As with Middle Street, they were converted into three apartment houses by taking in the back streets to create two additional rooms. The tenants of the houses off the High Street and into Wall Close once used slop pails as their own gardiloo which were emptied onto the beach through openings in the wall Woe betide anyone who happened to be passing, but the culprits were never caught since the wall was so high above the beach. Luckily these day's have long since past thanks to the improvements of the sanitation in the town.
In 1919 the miners went on strike for more money and received what was known as The Sanky Award. I was on strike for fourteen weeks in 1921 along with my Father and eldest brother, yet we returned to work no better off. There were. however, lighter moments during the strike, like when furniture and other household goods from Prestongrange House were auctioned. I was at the sale with a very good friend who was a young bride. She gave me two shillings and sixpence to buy a memento since she had already bought some furniture for her home. I waited until an affordable item came under the hammer I was not sure what I was going to buy until the auctioneer asked who would give him a bid for a lovely leading table. Thus I became the sole possessor of a beautifully carved table However, it was only mine for a few minutes since a gentleman, whom I worked beside, came forward and offered me seven shillings and sixpence for it. He at first asked me what I intended to do with the table and since I knew my Mother had no place for it (as our home was Filled with beds) I decided to accept the clear profit. He said it would do just fine for an organisation of which he was a member. I attended another auction in 1926 with a young aunt - the contents of Aldhammer House. There, for the sum of three pounds, we bought double bedroom wear. two basins, two jugs. two chamber pots. two soap dishes and one toothbrush jar all in a wonderful blue. gold and white pattern. While the auction was taking place the officials became concerned that. as there were so many people in the room at the one time. the floor was in danger of collapse. It was by then time for myself and aunt to call a halt as our finances had run dry: the day had been a real bargain. Aldhammer later became a tenement building which eventually was demolished as building work progressed in the town. I am not sure of the truth in the myth about there being a secret passage from the turret at the corner of Hamilton House garden to Aldhammer. allegedly used in ancient times. I was never brave enough to investigate even though I did some garden work there whilst it was occupied by four families, all of whom were farm workers for the Stewarts who themselves lived in the Catholic Fathers House. Archibald's Place now lies on the site of Stewart's Market gardens which became the Horticulture Society before demolition.
Not long after the strike I was paid off from the pit head. As industry began to boom once more. I started work in the brickworks where I remained till October 1925. Over this period my Mother had fallen ill with rheumatism. This was consequently a difficult time for the family as there were now eleven of us and only two of my brothers were working in the mines with my Father.
I married in December 1925 and took up house at 38 High Street (part of the Barrows), the birthplace of my first child, Mary. My husband. Father and two brothers were on strike again for seven months in 1926 I found it strangely coincidental that there was glorious sunshine many days during both the general strike of 1926 and the strike five years previous. Over the summer months soup kitchens were situated in the basement of Bank House and various events were organised to aid mining families such as night-time concerts which could last till midnight. Being young we did not fully realise the hardships our parents were subjected to. Yet again the miners returned to work worse off.
In 1927 I moved into 67 High Street, which although still a single-end house, had running water. a lavatory and a coal box all of which were indoors. There were iron bars on one of the two south-facing windows which still allowed in plenty of daylight. The house was quite large and held comfortably two beds. a linen cupboard, a five-foot sideboard, a chest-of-drawers. a table, one leather chair and four kitchen chairs. Such an abundance of space enabled my sister's wedding supper to be held there. It was a very happy home into which my second and third children. Duncan and Agnes. were born. There was an ever open door and never a beggar or busker would go away hungry although we ourselves did not have much to share. Whenever my brothers heard a street singer they would rush to the windows of 62 (my parents' home) to see what I would do and consequently christened me 'soft-face' after a whippet racing dog owned by my Father. Two old friends. Mrs Barclay and Mrs Gilmour. many a time found themselves closing my door as they passed at 4 a.m. on their wav to Buchanan's Dairy to do the milking. The dairy was on Pipers Wynd and was run by two brothers. Archie who founded it in 1928 and his elder brother Robert. Their business did not however last very long as their cattle went down with foot-and-mouth disease resulting in them being destroyed. Later the byre was to burn down. this site now belonging to British Telecom.
Throughout the twenties the size of the town was still increasing which included the addition of McLeod Crescent, named after the First ever Labour Provost. What is now the Labour Club was once the drill hall. above which used to live Mr Sharpe. a retired serviceman. Now that posts in the council were elected more democratically, it became procedure in the late twenties for the provost to hold rate payers meetings which were very' well attended and lively. The council which became fully Labour controlled seemed to work well. however heated arguments could erupt particularly over the issue of housing allocations. I was delighted when the town had its first Lady Provost. Mrs Mary Pollock. I remember one meeting of the Women's Guild when Mrs Pollock was the speaker and I asked her what had happened to old folk's pension rises and to mentally retarded people who were in homes such as Wedderburn and Haddington. As she was on the health committee, she and a Mrs Hay from Musselburgh went out to visit these places for themselves. She was furious at the nutrition supplied to the patients and fought the health board to ensure that they were given a cooked meal every day. Later she invited me along to observe how the patients disposition had improved. I very much appreciated this and found that they were very well cared for apart from the incontinent patients, of course hygiene has greatly advanced since those days. There were to be three further lady provosts. Mrs Mary Frame. Mrs Jean Galloway whom I am proud to state was my sister and Mrs Euphemia Edmond.
When I moved into my newly-built and current home in August 1935 my rent almost increased three fold from the previous two shillings and Five pence per week at my High Street residence. Later the rent was reduced by sixpence to six shillings and remained stable till early 1947 with only small increases per annum.
From 1869 to 1957 the board of Prestonpans Co-operative Society had all been male. I was to change this pattern by my appointment as a director of the Society. As mentioned earlier there were already female town councillors, still I was proud of my achievement. I stood four times in all. missing out on the First occasion by only four voters, but in my Final election, obtaining the largest number of votes of those appointed. A wonderful manager, who was with the society for many years. prompted me to stand for the above position. Throughout the two big strikes he kept faith with the membership and still managed to pay out a dividend of three shillings and sixpence in the pound to those who were eligible. He continued to run the Store with one office assistant to the highest level until his retirement in the late forties. His replacement caused havoc by trying to introduce new methods which did not suit the customers and were disliked by the staff who went on strike, never before had this occurred. I was unsure if I should remain a member of the society and. after discussing the situation with my husband. I added my name to his share book so that I could vote: my sister and her husband did likewise. Thus my active participation in the society lasted twenty-seven years over my sixty-seven years of membership. I never regretted spending my one shilling to join since one could always rely on one's "book' as we saved up our share capital.
Prestonpans was originally quite heavily industrialised with the various mines. Bellfield's Pottery. salt works, brick works, soap works and. of course, the brewery which in its time was one of the most modern in Europe. Surrounding the town were three main pits. Bankton. Prestongrange and Prestonlinks. As the Co-operative grew it began to lake over other premises such as Cooper's joinery in Kirk Street and the BorIand drapery and house. With the newly-built Cuthill store expanding other outlets were forced to close down leaving only the Bankton and Redburn Co-ops. Like most companies during the war. Fowler's brewery relied heavily on women doing work which would never before have been attempted by them. These tasks were malting, handling kegs at the loading bay and scrubbing tuns with long-handled brushes after the beer had been fermenting for several days. When the men returned the women left the heavier work. However, as the brewery was a thriving complex many of the girls retained their employment. Modernisation of the bottling pIant meant that the streets would clatter with the sound of the girls' clogs as they went to and from work: alas now all is quiet.
Morison Haven Harbour was last used to export bricks in the early twenties. I recall that one of the Final ships to enter the harbour was a European vessel names the "Andelusia". The pipes and hand-made bricks were transported from the factory to the docks using a small railroad which ran from the factory gates. Coal was also exported by sea from Prestonpans. The harbour house was occupied for many years by Mr Brown the pithead gaffer. William Thomson, who acted as the pilot for the boats that entered the harbour, lived in the upstairs flat in the Morrison Haven residences near the harbour.
The descendants of Alexander Meek, Andrew Meek of Woodbine Cottage and his brother. William, of Aldhammer House owned the saltworks and the market gardens respectively. A monument was erected on their burial ground at the top of Kirk Wynd opposite the Tower Building. This ground and a long green, aligned by seven or eight houses which stretched from the church hall to the High Street have now been cultivated and form the Coronation Gardens.
Captain Munro, a sea captain, built the aforementioned Kirk Wynd Tower for his retiral home. His brothers, the Munros. owned the soap works (called Meliss) and the ground from Kirk Street to High Street. The family home. which I believe to be called St Ringins (after the cinder brae it looked onto) but known to the townsfolk as Munro's. stood near Kirk Wynd. The lady of the house turned into a recluse after her companion for many years passed away. The soap works expanded and took over the Castle o' Cloots building. Prestonpans soap became known far and wide. This prosperous living afforded the brothers to own the first motorised transport in Prestonpans. Marion Ormiston. my former neighbour and friend, would sleep over in their house and report to the children's parents how they were dressed and behaved when she watched them play. The soap works is sadly now gone and the Iand on which it stood occupied by council housing.
As I now go to enter my tenth decade, many of my family have asked me to rekindle my memories of the old Pans and commit them to print: this is what I have done to the best of my ability. I hope this document will be of some use to future generations as a historic record on what Prestonpans was like in my youth.

Mrs Jenny Naysmith

Mrs Jenny Naysmith on her way to a wedding around 1965

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