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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Leisure

Over the years, there have been a number of places for hire including the village hall (see also Local Government for Gifford’s battle to keep the hall), the Tweeddale Arms hall, the bowling club and the Goblin Ha’ bowling alley. The primary school hall can be hired when it is available. Activities include bowling, parties, wedding receptions, dances and meetings of various societies and clubs.

There has been a play area in Bleachfield throughout the period, and a new play area in Walden Place since 1990.

Many couples met through dances, whist drives etc. The nearest cinema was at Haddington. ‘Walking out’ really did mean going for walks, as this was the only privacy available.

Organisations and Clubs: although the village has a mothers and toddlers group and a playgroup, guides, brownies and rainbows, beavers, cubs and scouts, and a mini rugby club run by fathers, there is a distinct lack of facilities for the youth of the parish, who are mainly left to their own devices and have to go to Haddington to youth club, swimming etc. There are no paid youth leaders to run a youth club although there have been youth clubs in the period 1945-2000.

The WRVS was very active during the war, and continued thereafter. There are a number of organisations linked to the church, including the Churchwoman’s Guild. The scope of cultural activities is fairly extensive in the parish. Some of the groups continue to flourish, however, due to changing times, membership of the SWRI (established 1923) has declined to around 35 members, mainly over 60 years old. Its role has been an important one, with representation on the East Lothian Youth Council (1967), participation in WRI golf and bowling competitions and drama festivals (the drama group was particularly strong in the 1950s) - both in 1968. In the Institute’s farm fields survey (1975), in fund-raising (in 1981 Gifford WRI raised £100 for the Can-Can Club), and in 1990, Gifford WRI won the East Lothian Institute’s 70th anniversary trophy. Members raised funds for Macmillan Cancer Relief by sponsored walks on Yester estate, 1998-2000.

The Young Women’s Group (1988) closed down after a few years. Crafts and Teas (started in 1982) were obliged in 2001 to curtail their opening days to comply with Health and Safety regulations.

To 1955, the Men’s Club, built in the 1920s beyond the southern end of Park Road, was home to the Small Bore Rifle Club and carpet bowling. Other groups and clubs include: Royal British Legion (formed 1950); Horticultural Society (founded 1848) and the Gifford Flower Show; Good Companions (formed 1961 for OAPs); football club; badminton club: Scottish country dancing 1977–present; Lecture Society 1983–present; Gifford Bridge Club 1962–present; Theatre Club 1990–present; Gifford Girls’ Club 1943-late 1950s. Dorothy Duff was responsible for setting up Gifford Art Group in 1982 with about 15, now 30, members. An annual exhibition is held over 10 days in May or June, with 10% of sales going towards upkeep of the village hall.

Sports clubs include Gifford Golf Club, Castlepark Golf Club (see Economy); Gifford Mini Rugby Club; curling club; badminton club 1972-early 90s (held in Garvald hall); and junior badminton 1983–84. Gifford Bowling Club off Station Road (established 1883), acquired an extension to its green in 1949, a clubhouse extension in 1954, and a new, larger clubhouse was completed in 1970.

Other activities have been, and some remain, popular in the parish. These include: pigeon racing; cricket (1972); bingo; charity work & fundraisers; fishing (river); game shooting; trout fishing in Gifford Water; fun fairs 1945–1960s; the Gala (first held in 1951, and run by the British Legion, then by a committee through the Gifford Community Association) with its pipe bands and children in fancy dress – ‘in hall if wet’; open gardens. People of all backgrounds support the East Lothian Agricultural Show.

More general activities, popular UK-wide include listening to the radio, eating out and drinking, use of the public park – for football/rugby, shopping (local, Haddington and Edinburgh); watching TV; walking and lots more (see Hamilton). Occasional car boot sales took place in the 1990s, mainly at the bowling green car park or Goblin Ha’ field.

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