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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian


Twinning | People | Events

A campaigning branch of the charity UNICEF had considerable success in Dunbar in the 1990s, collecting £2,500 in 1995 and £6,000 in 1996. £2,500 was spent on a well in Mozambique. Margaret Laidlaw established the branch in 1988.

In November-December 1992, as a result of a Rotarian initiative, Drysdale Freight (Cockburnspath) raised the money (and provided the transport) to send aid to Bosnia and owner Alec Scougall drove there on three occasions.

Paul and Liam Hickman drove to a Romanian orphanage with a lorry load of charitable goods in October 1996 under the auspices of the St Paul's Project and an English charity.


Dunbar has a number of twinning arrangements, some of which are part of the John Muir link. In 1980 discussions were held about possible links between Martinez and Dunbar and in March 1981 Martinez declared that Dunbar was to have sister-city status. Discussions were held here and a reciprocal declaration was made. Links were to be made through East Lothian District Council twinning officer. Individuals made visits from both communities. Molly Keith and Elizabeth Taylor visited Martinez and various individuals involved with the promotion of John Muir in California came to Dunbar. Links were established with Haines, Alaska in January 1999, and with Meaford, St Vincent and Sydenham in the watershed of the Bighead River, Ontario on 21 April 2000.

A school exchange scheme was set up and, despite the distance and the costs involved, several valuable exchanges took place, including one by my own son in 1988. I have to hand, a copy of the official declaration making 3 July 1986 'Ewen McMillan day' in the city of Martinez and know how proud he (a senior boy from Dunbar Grammar School, one of several senior pupils who went on official visits) was of it, as Alasdair (my son) was of his, two years later. I am sure the Americans who came here were equally appreciative of the efforts made for them.

Stephen Bunyan

Dunbar and Lignieres

In 1974, a young French couple came to Dunbar to continue their studies of the English language; Andre Monrocher became a post-graduate student at Edinburgh University while Danielle became a French assistant in the secondary schools of Dunbar and Haddington. It was an intense and important period of their lives. It was natural that when Andre became head teacher at Lignieres College and Danielle the head of English there, they looked to Dunbar to arrange pupil exchanges.

The first school exchanges look place in 1992. This was a success and it was suggested that the towns form a twinning link. After enjoyable preliminary reconnaissance visits between steering committees of both towns, it was decided to proceed with twinning. In 1994, twinning protocols were signed on behalf of East Lothian District Council, to twin Dunbar and the surrounding villages, and the civic leaders of Lignieres and 11 surrounding communes (Mareuil sur Arnon, Ineuil, Ids Saint Roch, Venesmes, La Celle Conde, St Hilaire en Lignieres, Montlouis, St Baudel, Touchay, Chezal Benoit and St Symphorien) in splendid ceremonies, on 16 April 1994 in Dunbar Parish Church and on 8 October in the Chateau de Lignieres. At the ceremony in Dunbar, East Lothian District Council was presented with the European Flag of Honour.

Since then school exchanges and visits continued, there have been visits by Dunbar Choral Society - they gave a performance in Bourges cathedral in April 1995. M. Pagenal (the organist at Bourges cathedral) and M. Dutot (trumpeter) gave recitals in St Mary's, Haddington and at St Paul's & St George's in Edinburgh in 1996. The Dunbar Royal British Legion Pipe Band and the Thaiulins (French traditional folk culture) have played an integral part in harmonizing visits and exchanges of their own. Music has played an important part in uniting the two communities.

Social visits, on both a formal and informal basis, have played a great part in developing lasting friendships between the two committees. Dedication, hard work and enthusiasm carried this project through into the new millennium


Freemen of the Burgh (or to give them their proper title, Honorary Burgess) were created within the period. General Sir F.R. Wingate, Bart. of Dunbar and Port Sudan, had been a Freeman since 1902 and the 50th anniversary of that fact was noted. He died on 28 January 1953 and was given a ceremonial funeral with a parade along the High Street, the coffin being carried in state on a gun carriage.

On 10 November 1961 William Chapman was made an Honorary Burgess in recognition of over 50 years of public service including 31 years on the town council. The final Freemen were created just before the end of the town council; at the final meeting of Dunbar Burgh Council, it was agreed that the freedom of the burgh should be conferred on Mr S.W. Brown, the outgoing and last town clerk, at the Civic Reception held on Friday 9 May 1975.

Molly Keith received the Lothian Regional Council Award in 1980 in recognition of her work for the elderly in Dunbar.

Jim Rylance (1951-97) was awarded the Rotarians' Community Services Award, and (1996) the community council's award for his dedicated work with the youth of the town. He was the sea cadet commanding officer (1991-97) and a member of the lifeboat crew.

John Imrie CBE (1928-2000) was an ex-Dunbar Grammar School pupil of note, ultimately serving as Keeper of the Records of Scotland for some 16 years.

Derek White (1958- ) the Scottish Rugby Internationalist was first capped in 1982; over the following decade he was capped 41 times. He was a British Lion in the Australian tour in 1989 and a member of the Scottish team which won the Grand Slam in 1990.

Ross Cooper (1972- ) lived in Dunbar from 1981; he began dancing aged ten, making up dance routines on his own. In 1989 he won a scholarship to the London Studio Centre, the second Scot to go there. From there, he went (also on a scholarship) to the Bejart Ballet in Lausanne where he worked with some of the biggest names in the world of dance. He then went to South Africa and danced in the National Ballet. He returned to London and worked in a variety of companies, including Adventures in Motion Pictures, that staged the controversial all male production of Swan Lake. Ross established The Curve Foundation in Edinburgh in 1996. Since then a number of his productions have received excellent critical acclaim particularly Diamond Dogs and Alien, described by Christopher Bowen in the Scotsman, as 'an impressive development'.

Tony Cownie (1960- ) came to Dunbar in 1974. He left Dunbar Grammar School and trained as a chef, obtaining a City & Guilds certificate and worked in Edinburgh. Tony had an ambition to work in theatre and in 1983 was accepted by the R.S.A.M.D. in Glasgow. After three years he was awarded a Diploma in Dramatic Art and first prize for a 'Pupil in a Comedy Role'. He worked extensively in theatres in Scotland and London and won the prize for best actor in the Fringe at Edinburgh Festival in 1999.

Following this success in acting he decided to change direction and turned his sights on directing. He is now an associate director in the Lyceum Theatre and has had the privilege of guest directing in other theatres. He looks forward to continuing a career in theatre.


On 8 February 1970, the town celebrated the 600th anniversary of David II's Charter.

HRH the Duchess of Kent visited the Dunbar lifeboat station in 1991, and then Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple BT. KCVO JP, Lord Lieutenant on behalf of HM the Queen, invested Mr Ralph Brunton, mechanic, Dunbar Lifeboat Station, with the British Empire Medal.

The town celebrated the Millennium with a parade from the High Street to the harbour and a firework display on the evening of 31 December 1999.


Thanks are also due to others who gave time and thought to the project, especially the team from the history society, who shared knowledge and reminiscences - including Mark Beattie, Jean Colley, Walter Cowan, Roy Pugh, Pauline Smeed - and also Ray Halliday, Chris Roberts, David White and Bill Willens. Also the many owners of businesses who endlessly answered questions.

And the recollections of Evelyn Bradd (transport - the postal bus); Vi Marshall (her childhood at East Barns); Sandy Amos (Thomas Sherriff's)

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