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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Leisure

There was never a shortage of things to do, though the nature of what was available did change somewhat over time.

Until there was a bit more money around the only entertainment was that provided by the people themselves: men and boys bowling, darts and dominoes; women and girls from 16 upwards attended the lively local WRI, which was active in organizing pantos, etc. - another chance for boy to meet girl. Whist drives were organized in the village hall until Bingo arrived in Dunbar. With greater frequency of buses and the car becoming more and more a possibility for the ordinary villager and farm worker this too changed. The cinema in North Berwick became the main attraction. The school began to organize outings, even to the zoo in Edinburgh.

For many years there was a church hall at Whitekirk, which stood opposite the Orlit houses in the Glebe: it was demolished in 1980. There was also a hall owned and used by the Whitekirk WRI, which remains in the village. It was handed over by the WRI to the local parish church.

Men's and boys' clubs, the British Legion, the Woman's Guild, came and went through the period. The WRI was very strong in Whitekirk - established in 1923, it finally closed in 1991 when the membership fell to five. During the war they had organised the collection, drying and packing of many herbs in the WRI hall. These were sent by rail to a firm in London and the proceeds (up to £12 in a good year) went to the Red Cross. They ran many entertainments in the hall, particularly whist drives, and entered the SWRI drama festivals, as well as producing a yearly panto in the WRI hall for many years - the cast enlarged by men and children. In 1966 they won the SWRI village history competition, compiling a fine description and history of the parish - a useful source of information.

Tyninghame school was a popular venue in the early days for whist drives and Burns suppers. When the old bakery, long empty except as an ARP post during the war, was restored and brought into use as a village hall in the 1950s the estate opened it for hire and it saw increasing use - for weddings, shooting lunches, harvest lunches, antiques road shows, bring and buy sales, the Lammas fair, and country dances.

There is fair fishing on the Tyne for trout and sea trout, and this continued through the period; there were tales too of running battles between poachers and the Tyninghame gamekeepers. Before it became polluted, the occasional fish was said to lurk in the Peffer Burn, at whose mouth fishermen set lines for eels and flounders - some whoppers, it is reported. The seashore, though dangerous for bathing, also attracts many walkers, birdwatchers, paddlers and picnickers, and wildfowlers on the Tynemouth saltings.

For several years Gladys Dale ran wonderful 4-in-hand events at Seacliff, with a cross-country course through the Tyninghame policies and woods.

From 1977, Tyninghame House, with its ruined Norman church associated with St Cuthbert and St Baldred, opened its lovely grounds and secret garden to the public twice a year.

In the 1950s Tommy Dale offered a stretch of beach at Scoughall to the Scripture Union for a summer camp. This became so popular that a permanent site was built there and remained in yearly use at the end of the period. In 2000 Eddie McKenna, who had met Douglas Dale at one of these camps, was the minister at St Andrews Blackadder in North Berwick; between them they were planning a daring trip up the Amazon in a surplus Royal Naval tender; this would then afford the poor Peruvian villagers a means of crossing the great river, thus developing trade and bringing prosperity.

A cricket club was founded in 1993 and remained active for several years, the inaugural match on Whitekirk Hill between 15 men of Whitekirk and 15 men of Newbyth.

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