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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Population

By parish, from the General Registrar's office
1931 732 357M 375F
1951 642 313M 329F
1961 621 315M 306F
1971 464 230M 234F
1981 360 180M 180F
1991 447 225M 222F
2001 522 251M 271F
By Parish, from ELDC By settlement, from ELDC
1991 379 ---
1997 (est.) 465 225M 239F 77 (Tyninghame only)

Population figures are difficult to compare, as no two sources extract data in the same way.

The steady decline in population (which had already fallen from 1113 in 1861 to 732 in 1931) reflected the trend to smaller families, increased mobility, the decline in agricultural employment and the increasing accessibility of jobs elsewhere. The recovery in the last two decades of the century (which will be sustained) was due to the motor vehicle, the realisation among young affluent commuters and retired people of the attractions of country life (of a sort), and the enterprise of local builders.

Here (and elsewhere throughout the text) Hermine de Iongh paraphrases the recollections of a number of Whitekirk residents, who willingly shared their memories for this account of the parish.

In 1945 most of the population in the parish were in one way or another connected with farming and estate work. This profile has drastically changed. By 2000 no one living in Whitekirk was involved in farming, the only animals being domestic cats, dogs, a cockerel and three hens (killed by stoats in 2001). With this change and the mechanisation of the work on the other farms in the parish, the type of people living here has changed too. Farm workers have been replaced by retired, still active persons or commuters, their cottages lovingly done up. In 1945 there were many families with children, on average three to five, living in sometimes cramped circumstances, although the new council houses from just before the war and the Orlits from around 1950 provided more room and more comfort; an altogether healthier environment.

The number of children in Whitekirk itself dwindled to just four by the end of the century, though in 2000 there were ten again (and 17 in 2001). Of the 29 properties, five were still council owned, one privately rented and one a holiday home in 2000.

Most of the inhabitants are native Scots, although there are several from England, two Canadians, one German born, one Dutch born and two New Zealanders. I am not aware of a specific local dialect.

The lady from Germany, an elderly widow, left her native Berlin during the famous airlift after the iron curtain had come down. She answered an advertisement, circulated by the British government asking for people to come and work in Britain. She spoke no English. She was sent with others to East Fortune hospital as a ward orderly. In nearby Gilmerton were still German ex-prisoners of war, who could not return. One of these came from the long disputed lands east of the Oder. They heard about German girls working so close by who went roller-skating on the airport's landing strips. The Polish German married one of them and settled in Whitekirk. This is an illustration of the lack of labour in those early years.

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