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How it looked in 1722* - Our Gravity Waggonway from Tranent to Cockenzie

Alan Braby shows us how it looked in 1722!*

We've all wondered greatly at its miraculous use of gravity; then those 1854 photographs were found in the loft at Cockenzie House and it became clearer .. but now Alan Braby has gone five steps further.

Firstly, the wind is from the north east as we get a sea gull's view of our Waggonway as it runs around Cockenzie Harbour. See the salt pan bottom left corner too:

But where is all the coal coming from? Surely not Prestongrange or Preston Links. No hill and they're always flooded. Exactly! It's down hill from Tranent where flooding is no problem. Clay smoker's pipes are de rigeur! We have a souvenir in The Gothenburg.

So secondly the Coal Gin in Tranent:

Aye, but half way between Tranent and Cockenzie Harbour, surely the Waggonway crossed the site of the battle in 1745. Indeed it did. For a fact we know that Cope's cannons and infantry regiments were initially to the east of the Waggonway but his Dragoons, including Gardiner's, were certainly to the west when the Highlanders charged through the early dawn mist. Then as the infantry was routed by the Charge, it fled back across the Waggonway to the west being slaughtered as it reached the walls of Preston House. See Preston Tower in the distance* although we might have expected to be looking east at that cannon?

Alan Braby has chosen to depict the evening before battle, September 20th 1745:

Once the coal had made its way down to the Harbour it was either [a] loaded on to ships using the wee turntable:

or [b] sent to the east for the Cockenzie and Port Seton Salt Pans. They are often overlooked in the light of Prestonpans seniority in the salt industry since 1189 but the Cockenzie pans were a very important asset for the families living in Cockenzie House and earlier at Seton Palace.

And YES, in the final image we see a horse. They were the horse power that got the gravity driven waggons back up to Tranent when empty!

Walk the Walk - it's well signed now all the way to and from Tranent

With a wee grant from Paths for All signs for walkers are in place and Interpretation Boards will soon be erected en route. And there's the App, free download for both the Waggonway and the Battle itself, to be found on Apple and Android @: Prestonpans 1745.

There's even a bonus on the App - the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry in 4 languages.

* Ed. Poetic licence has been taken by Alan Braby which explains the occasional anachronism such as Preston Tower [damaged and abandoned in 1663] and the mix of wooden and iron [only from 1815] rails. Importantly, the scene depicted in 1745 when battle ensued shows the wood with the others best estimated as circa 1835-1855.

Published Date: February 8th 2017

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