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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Leisure

The Fletcher Hall in East Saltoun was built in the 1920s from funds donated by Captain Andrew Fletcher (1880-1951); the hall and the suite of rooms belonging to and opposite the church is available for hire. This accommodation is used for fund-raising events, private functions, exercise classes, the school and church groups.

There were regular dances in Fletcher Hall and there always seemed to be buses to take you to another village should they be holding a dance. … the Fletcher Hall dance was cancelled when Captain Fletcher died in 1951. The Fletcher family played a large part in the village in those days with Christmas treats for children up at Saltoun Hall. Villagers would be very respectful to the laird.

Margaret McCormack

The school was used as a polling station for elections until the 1990s, but as elections have now become so frequent, the Fletcher Hall is used instead.

Organisations & Clubs: a youth club ran throughout the late 1960s and 1970s. From 1985 a new youth club has run in the evenings with voluntary leaders and support from the council. It meets in the Fletcher Hall on Thursday nights and in 2000 had around 40 members aged from ten upwards.

A group of parents has been running a summer play scheme for children since the mid 1980s. The council provides a grant to support this. The scheme operates every Wednesday during the summer holidays and organises outings and activities for both primary and secondary age children.

Fletcher Hall, East Saltoun

Fletcher Hall, East Saltoun

There are now no uniformed organisations for children that meet in the village, although there used to be brownies in the Fletcher Hall and a Rainbow unit in the 1990s. Children from the parish now go to Gifford or Pencaitland for cubs, brownies and scouts.

Leisure activities have changed over the years, with many declining perhaps because of the advent of television. The Fletcher Hall was a hive of activity in the 1940s and 1950s with bowling, British Legion, recreation club, horticultural society, SWRI and Guilds and weekly dances; country and highland dancing classes were held in the hall. Nowadays the Fletcher Hall is used for privately run classes in keep-fit and aerobics. Those attending come from all over the area and not just from the parish. Equally those who live in the parish travel elsewhere for a wide variety of leisure pursuits, although "in the early part of this period many people did not go away on holidays. Days out were more common. There were not the long holidays in the 1940s and 1950s. Children spent their summer holidays playing around the area."

The playing field beside the Fletcher Hall belongs to the village, but the council cuts the grass, and the school uses it. There is no regular football team, but the pitch is sometimes used for practice by teams from elsewhere. At one time a football team existed and there was also a rifle range attached to the hall used by the local miniature rifle club. The Women's Rural Institute, established 1923, ended in 1999 because of lack of support; in the past it entered a team for the Jubilee Curling Competition (1966). The SWRI booklet The History of Saltoun (1969) was published locally, with a very limited issue.

Saltoun Big Wood was used for orienteering, fungus forays, walks and, in more recent years, for companies' team bonding exercises. A bowling club beside the manse was in use until the land was sold in the 1980s.

At the plantation in Lower Saltoun before the two houses were built, there was a pond (still there) and wild strawberries grew there. It was a great play area for the village children. The wood is known locally as Strawberry Wood and doubtless still used by the children of today. Children of the 1940s tended to play around the village, only going home for meals in the long summer holidays. Nobody worried too much about possible dangers in those days.

Jeannie Sandilands

The museum at the Bygone Byre was established in 1972. The museum has old photographs, agricultural implements and kitchen utensils, school records, church and Fletcher family memorabilia. The material is displayed in an old stable with existing cobbled floor and bales of straw. It has changed very little since its inception in 1972. It is not advertised widely as a visitor attraction. People visiting the Tithe Byre will often wander into the museum; those revisiting the area, often find old school photos of interest as people try to remember names. The Bygone Byre museum is very much a display of implements and photographs of a bygone era in the parish. The children can sit on the knife grinder's seat and see such things as a working butter churn and a genuine ugly - the sun-hat worn by women (bondagers) in the fields. An ex-parishioner now in her 90s used to make these hats. The museum is checked over regularly.

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