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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Mark Iain Lees (1973) - Dunbar 1970s & 1980s

For the first 25 years of my life I lived at Harbour Court, Dunbar. Living at the harbour, and being the son of a fisherman, resulted in my childhood interests being based around the harbour. The harbour at Dunbar in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a very different place than it seems today. There was a large proportion of the buildings lying derelict or occupied as fishermen's stores. Although probably unsightly at the time, it was an excellent place for kids to play and generally go "where you were not supposed to". These [buildings] have mostly all now been converted to housing with only a couple still to go.

The harbour was always a fascinating place to watch what was going on. Whether it was fishermen mending nets or landing their catch, the place always seemed to be busy. It was obviously not that safe a place for kids to hang around but when that is what you are used to, it didn't seem like a problem at the time. A major bonus of living at a harbour, which actually used to catch fish, was the regular delivery of a large amount of wooden fish boxes. This provided a life size 'lego' kit for the local kids and we used to make tunnels and gangs within the boxes. This did not go down well with the harbourmaster however and we would be regularly chased.

The other major bonus of being brought up at the harbour was that you had your very own derelict castle ruins to occupy, as well as the fort at the battery. This used to account for another significant proportion of my time although it too was supposed to be 'out of bounds'. We also used to spend a lot of time around the harbour at the beach, on the rocks, fishing or swimming in the summer.

The harbour is certainly less busy today than it was at the time. There are still a few boats however, although they are smaller than those I can remember as a kid. In my class at the school, there were seven fishermen's sons but none of them has ended up at the sea as an occupation. This is an indication of the opportunities to make an easier living on shore today.

I am currently an electrical engineer, employed by British Energy at Torness Power Station. I have been employed there since leaving school in 1990. My wife Rhona and I live in West Barns.

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