Generations of Barons

University Press

Heritage Museum

The Coal Trail

Airts Burns Society

Golfing Delights

Sporting Sponsorship
Fowlers Brewery

Our Battle in 1745


Picture Gallery

Barga Twin

Shop Online

News & Events

Site News


There were two blocks of houses with outside toilets and wash-houses and with 40 families in each block. Never any locked doors as everyone was friendly. It was all miners staying there - there and the Kittle, and no one had anything more than anyone else. At that time it was the Edinburgh Coal Co. who had the Grange and we aye had only three days. You would come out. but be idle on Monday and Tuesday and then work for the next three days. Can't remember the wages but they would be under three pounds and that was a full week. So a man with family didn't have very much and naturally the best friend we ever had was Prestonpans Store, the Co-operative, and the dividend at 4/6d. was a lot of money, that was every six months and after they took off what you were due. there would be some left for boots and shoes.
The boats used to come into the Harbour then to gel filled with coal and bricks from the Brickwork. The pug took the coal out and then the horse would get harnessed with a chain and take the hutch the rest of the way to the chute.
Ponies worked down the pit and one day I was sitting at my piece and the pony was at my side so it got a bit. In fact a lot of miners told their wives to put in an extra couple of slices for the ponies so they were all well fed. It was the same when the miners were going home. a lot of bairns would wait and ask if they had any pieces left. The ponies were down fifty one weeks in the year. usually in total darkness, and when they came up for the one week that the pit was on holiday the sun would blind them. They were taken up the cutting to graze in the fresh air until the holiday was over and then it was back to the pit bottom. When they had eight hutches put on them the pony moved off but one day there was an extra hutch added on and the pony wouldn't move so someone said that it was able to count the number of cIangs. But the truth was that the pony could move the eight hutches but not the nine. The extra weight was too much.
One day miners were going to work in the same road they had used for months. The pony stopped and refused to move. The men decided to turn and they had only moved back about six yards when the whole roof caved in behind them. The pony knew something was wrong and it saved the miners' lives. Sarah Butler's husband was the last to get out and was sent to the Royal with head and shoulder injuries.
Wee Johnny Corbett was the man who put the miners on the cage. One of the men who was going to see Celtic play Hearts shouted an insult about Celtic. The cage was half-way up but he sent it down again. Johnny was waiting with a pail of water to throw over all the men. Football was a serious business!
The Watchman for the pit had his house in the pit yard. That meant the coal dust was in their house everywhere and every day. How would you like to clean it?
Another day. Donald Boyd. the Manager, was waiting for the bus. He was all dressed in his best overcoat. A man came out of the yard and asked him to help him load two bags of coal onto his bike. Donald helped him even though he knew the man was stealing the coal!
The Manager always went home for his breakfast but one morning when his wife took his food to him she found he had died in his chair.
During the war, a rumour started that there was an invasion on so after we worked our shift, 2pm till lOpm.wehad to go out to help stop it when we got up the pit.
At Morison Haven, especially in the summer, it was braw. After the school we would come right home and into the Harbour. My mother used to say that I was as often in the water as I was in my bed! Any night it was packed, bar Saturday, for that was the football or the men would take the wives out to the pictures. There wasn't a soul then at the Harbour. One wee lad drowned in the Harbour because it was a Saturday when there was no one else there. There was a wee pier on the left hand side and a big one on the right hand side with about 60 yards between them and you weren't counted a swimmer until you could swim that and there were four of us wanted to do it. Willic Watson came on the scene. He was a very powerful swimmer and he told us to jump in and he would be at our backs to save us. He said we were not to look back or we'd get water in our mouths and then panic. We swam right over to the other side and when we turned round to thank him. he wasn't there. Willie was sitting on the other pier waving to us. After that, we had no fear. We could SWIM!
Years ago there was a Swimming Club, Willie Thomson and Mary Arnott were in it. and the Club used to come up to the Harbour at night and have races and a tournament. When they needed a diving board, that was easily remedied, they just climbed on to the top of the harbour and dived in.
We had a large hut and it was used for whist drives, concerts and dances and also as a Shelter during the war. For dancing, Bert Edwards played the button accordian. As long as they had music the people would get up to dance. And there was always somebody who could sing or say recitations. Just all being together in the hut for a wee while was all that mattered. Annie Gordon's daughter.
Heather got up to sing and she was applauded before she even started because she had on a Gordon tartan skirt. She looked really nice. Heather was invited to sing at Edenhall Hospital and most of the injured soldiers from WWII were members of the Glasgow HighIanders so they were pleased to hear the wee girl in her own tartan who had come to entertain them!
One day we went down to the Harbour and there was a boat high and dry on the rocks outside the pier. The Captain thought he would bring the boat in by himself instead of calling out the Pilot. Mr Thomson, but he learnt his lesson the hard way because he had to wait for the tide coming in again.
The Harbour was infested with rats of all sizes and we would watch from the side of the pier. We'd throw some bread injust to see them fighting for it. There was an old boat in the harbour till the very' last and we would watch them running about the deck.
When the sea was rough it washed away part of the bing then washed it back in again. The beach was black with coal. We had a good Fire when that happened.
Hard times, living at the Harbour but we all had good friends and helpful neighbours. Grand days!

Prestongrange Miners' Welfare Institute

Back | Contents | Next
  Back to top