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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Population

By parish*, from the General Registrar's office  
1931 554 296M 258F  
1951 448 258M 190F  
1961 374 225M 149F  
1971 310 175M 135F  
1981 283 151M 132F  
  By Small Area Statistics - census
1991 242 122M 120F 93 45M 48F
2001 448 230M 218F NO DATA
By parish*, from ELDC By settlement, from ELDC
1991 282     ---
1997 (est.) 309 164M 144F 185
2001 NO DATA NO DATA

*The figures relate to the whole parish and not just the village; the parish figure for 2001 seems suspect, almost having doubled since 1991 for no obvious reason.

From 1951-91, the total population of 448 fell by 50% to 242. This was largely due to the mechanisation of farming. In 1951 the farmer needed several employees, who mostly lived in the cottages at the farm with their families. By 1991 many of these had left, and whereas in the past the workers’ sons usually went into farming, by this time they more often went away to train or find employment.

The situation in the village was somewhat different. There were always a number of retired people and the shops and services in the village were discontinued. However the cottages were largely taken over and modernised and the number used only as holiday homes decreased. The derelict roadside cottages opposite the pub were demolished and replaced by council houses, which were built behind the new village green. In such a small village the addition of 18 new homes must have increased the resident population.

It is almost inevitable that most of the young people moved away. There was no employment for them locally. They took professional courses after secondary school and then moved to wherever their professions took them. If their parents were in the parish they reappeared on visits. Maybe they came back to get married, but very few found their partners locally. Generalisations are not really possible. Unlike in the 19th century when the sons went off to Australia or Canada, by the end of the period one only heard of farmers’ sons taking a year abroad before they came home to take over from Dad!

In the 1920s-30s, when there was a railway from Leith to Gifford, it became popular for families from Leith to come and spend their summer holidays in Garvald. 80 years later the children and grandchildren of those families were an interesting group who could be identified in the village - the Leith Connection.

In the earliest years of this review they were visitors to the village. At that time many of the cottages were in a tumbledown state with no modern conveniences, but the families camped out here. Over the years a number of the cottages were restored. They were available at very little cost and gradually they were modernised. Some were used as weekend cottages, in others the people retired and lived in them. A few of the new houses were bought by members of this group.

In 2000, there was nobody in the village who ‘belonged’ to the village in the sense that their forebears lived there. These families from Leith were the nearest there was to people who ‘belonged’.

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