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Trustees Update for Supporters & The Minister of Culture & Tourism

Trustees Had A Great Deal to Report

Supporters living near enough to Prestonpans to attend the latest face to face Update from Trustees were delighted to learn that so much progress has been made - and of the determined immediate plans for 2007. They debated and discussed the Report prepared for the Minister as given below. It's steady reading but we trust well worth the effort!

Our Purpose in Inviting The Minister on February 28th was .....

...... was to enable the Trustees to provide Patricia Ferguson MSP with:

•an up-to-date briefing on what we have achieved so far

•share what we are committed to achieve (a) immediately and (b) as our ultimate goal

•discuss what assistance the Scottish Executive might suitably be able to give as we proceed.

Our Achievements to date

1. We have established the Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust as a Charity working with the Community Council and Prestoungrange Arts Festival.

2. With the voluntary service of a local architect presented plans for our Dream for multilevel conservation/ interpretation/ presentation of the battle area and publicised it widely.

3. Raised some £250,000 in ‘seed corn/ matching’ cash and benefits-in-kind from private sources.

4. Created a dedicated website for the battle campaign to raise awareness and support.

5. Commissioned applications for funding for a Visitor/ Tourism/ Living History Assessment by consultants RGA and for Project Planning from HLF.

6. Taken private advice from John Brown at the Scottish Executive.

7. Received support in Parliament from the Minister in response to John Home-Robertson’s Question S2O 11017 / MSP’s votes for Motion S2M 5566.

8. Enlisted more than 100 volunteers including artists, playwrights, singers, pipers, poets, battle archaeologists, journalists, battle ethnographers, sociologists, historians, arboriculturalists, musicologists, sculptors and the Bankton House Residents’ Association - and commissioned pro bono works from them.

9. Recruited the majority of descendant Clan Chiefs and Hanoverian Representers from the battle as High Patrons.

10. Secured the free loan of a Portakabin for 6 months as a temporary exhibition venue close to the battle site at Meadowmill.

11. Traced the original ‘Gardiner’ Thorntree Stump, whose image came to symbolise the battle, and requested its repatriation for display in Prestonpans

12. Made contact with officials and Jacobite supporters in Derby with a view to complementary future celebrations.

13. Conducted sustained national and local PR to create and maintain awareness of/ commitment to achieving our Dream

14. Worked with the Royal Society of Arts in Scotland both in its Coffee House Challenge and its January 2007 Seminar to evolve the meanings of our Dream.

15. Continued the programme of Battlefield Walks, open to all, to educate and inform.

16. Created the Johnny Cope Mural and three new works of art on our themes of - Victory Hope and Ambition

Our Immediate Agenda in 2007

• To invite RGA to proceed with its ‘revenue potential’ assessments against the major vectors of our Dream

• To table and gain HLF funding for the Initial Project Planning stage of our Dream in the sum of £45/60,000 most particularly the battlefield archaeology

• To ‘tidy up/ renovate all existing assets associated with the Battle e.g. lion’s paws on Gardiner obelisk, Byng interpretation boards and signage

• To identify potential hoteliers for the St Joseph’s site, close to the battlefield

• To ‘protect’ the entire footprint of our Dream

• To present our Dream in the Portakabin at Meadowmill from May/ September 2007 and to exhibit significant artefacts other than those held at Bankton House Doocot since 1995

• To create a Pageant of the Arts in Concert in June to celebrate the flowering of the arts that the Battle victory occasioned which will then go on national tour.

• To repatriate the Thorntree Stump (from Edinburgh Military and Naval Museum) as an integral part of the celebration of the anniversary of the battle on September 21st/ 22nd 2007 together with a re-enactment in situ, to be followed by a Ceilidh at Holyrood House.

Longer Term Aims to reach Our Dream

• To establish a parallel panel to the Clan Chiefs of ‘All Interested Parties’ to counsel, facilitate and as necessary legitimise the work of the Trustees.

• Give our Dream substance in the form of capital investment in an inspirational Visitor Hub with access to the battlefield itself.

• Ensure that the battle is remembered, not only as a Jacobite Victory, but also its legacy of Hope and Youthful Ambition and its flowering of literature, painting, poetry and song.

• To place the Battle of Prestonpans in the context of the other battles fought in the eastern corridor at Dunbar and Pinkie and the Mutiny in Tranent.

• To create programmes both of participative and spectator activities that will ensure initial and repeat visits using the Hub and any future hotel conference facilities.

• Initiate from 2008 an Annual Ball within The Palace of Holyrood House that will capture the social atmosphere which prevailed in Edinburgh for six weeks following the Prestonpans victory on September 21st 1745.

• Encourage locals and visitors to contribute to the living history associated with the Battle interpretations by creating new literature, music, poetry and painting.

• Ensure that the communities in and around Prestonpans are involved in the process of creating and operating their Dream through appropriate training/ education and staffing of the Hub and ancillary services - in partnership with the Pennypit/ Jewel & Esk / Queen Margaret University.

• As a priority, to bear in mind that Prestonpans is virtually unique as an urban battlefield with a very rich industrial heritage. This affords major opportunities for a multilevel interpretation and presentation of the community well beyond the Battle itself:

Other aspects of local heritage include - the Tranent/ Cockenzie Waggonway, Birsley Brae Ancient Monument, the pattern of agriculture, Jacobite Old Preston with Hamilton & Northfield Houses, Preston Tower, John Davidson’s Prestongrange Kirk and Scotland’s finest Mercat Cross, salt panning, coal mining, pottery, glass making, chemicals, soap, brick making, brewing and market gardening.

Support from the Scottish Executive

The Trustees and the people of Prestonpans see themselves as responsible custodians and stewards of this vital element of Scotland’s heritage and the Campaign that is now in motion is from the grass roots and populist.

We all believe that we must continue to think big and that we must maintain the momentum of our campaign.

When we first contacted the Minister, we asked that she establish and chair a Working Group that brings together all interested parties. At the time it was not considered feasible, but good advice was received from the Minister’s officers which we have acted upon. However, the continuing reason for wishing Ministerial support of our proposed ’Working Panel’ is to move the process forward. We have already initiated a series of bilateral discussions but they can greatly benefit from a authoritative ‘national’ stamp which would add strength and determined urgency to what we seek to achieve.

Secondly, we believe that our Dream is: of national significance in terms of heritage; that it will stimulate training, education and employment in an area blighted for decades by lack of job opportunities; and will become a significant stimulus to Scottish tourism.

As such it is surely worthy of capital investment by the nation to create a self financing/ self sustaining community enterprise. Whilst we do not expect concrete promises and fully expect to make an acceptable, competitive case for any public funding we seek, we would ask the Minister and Scottish Executive to endorse our Campaign.

This is a wholly grass roots initiative that draws in the entire community, giving us all a sense of purpose that has not been seen in our town for half a century. It is just this type of sustainable initiative that transforms community and individual self esteem and we ask that it should be boldly acknowledged as such.

Prestonpans has experienced its own Culloden when our entire industrial base disappeared in the nineteen sixties. It has lived though the grimmest of social cycles and been the butt of jokes for a generation. We have painstakingly rebuilt our bricks and mortar and spent six years painting our history on our walls.

Now we have resolved to make our Dream for our stewardship of a unique piece of Scotland’s national heritage, which is the battle Prince Charles Edward won in the town 262 years ago, our unifying community inspiration. It’s as emotional as that.

Published Date: March 9th 2007

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