Time line of major events: 1969-1998

DK Affleck

17 November 1969

Social Work Scotland Act 1968 comes into force. New Social Work department with a duty to promote social welfare takes on functions of the Children’s Dept, Probation Dept. and welfare services covering mental health, disability and older people.

September 1970

Social Work area office opened at Meadowpark, Haddington.

January 1971

Proposals for additional staff removed from financial estimates.

November 1972

Capital plan proposes new home for older people at Musselburgh. New adult training Centre at Haddington, extension at Waverley Lodge residential home, Gullane.

April 1973

Increase in social worker staff over three years from 33 to 61 agreed. (Clearly local government reform anticipated.)

January 1974

Capital plan re-phased to later than 1974/1975. (This passes on to the new Regional authority.)

May 1975

Lothian Regional Council takes over responsibilities for social work services. Musselburgh becomes part of East Lothian. Front line office to be opened at Musselburgh, the only ‘growth’ item approved for community based social work from the reorganisation, (and fought for by the local Councillor, ex Provost Jessie Burns.)

The new social work convenor leads a drive to improve social work services and to promote the new Council’s commitment to social welfare.

November 1975

15 short-term Foster parents working with East Lothian invited to reception. (This represented campaigns since 1970. Foster parents for a child under 5 were paid £5.95 a week plus a clothing grant. The birthday allowance was £2.50.)


Financial help to a summer playscheme offering respite care to parents of handicapped children evolves. Home Care service responsibility transferred to Social Work management. 617 home helps care for 1000 clients. 19 Playgroups assisted at a cost of £8,851 per year


Opening of the New Day Centre for Adults with a Learning Disability at Haddington.

Opening of Eskgreen Home.

Development of Wedderburn as a day centre for adults with a learning disability (and hostel facilities at Prestonkirk and Wedderburn.)


8 day centre lunch clubs provide an average of 1347 meals per week to 340 pensioners but only Musselburgh has a five-day service. Limited specialised transport service established.


Launch of a Playbus facility at Elphinstone and Prestonpans.

April 1982


Snapshot of Children in care statistics.
Foster Care 34
Residential Care 31
Hospital 1
Assessment Centre 4
List D School 14
Total 84


Launch of experimental Dispersed Alarm service as part of an extension to sheltered housing support.

Care homes for adults with a learning disability set up in East Linton and Musselburgh by Ark Housing Association.


Launch of Community Care Alarm service in East Lothian bringing help in an emergency to the sick, elderly and less able.


Setting up of ELCAP to provide Care and Accommodation for adults with a learning disability.


Implementation of the new Community Care legislation. Social Work Departments given the lead role.

New Day Centres for Learning Disability opened at Port Seton and Musselburgh

Snapshot of Children in care statistics.
Foster Care 50
Residential Care 15
Total 68

Lothian Regional Council ceases and a single tier authority takes responsibility in East Lothian.

A separate Social Work Department is no longer a legal requirement.

Residential Institutions closed

Children and Young People:

  • Mary Murray Instititute (Residential home for unmarried mothers) closed before 1970.
  • Tynebank List D School for girls.
  • Glasclune at North Berwick and Tyneholme, Pencaitland (Dr Barnardos).
  • Redhouse Boys’Home in Musselburgh (March 1986).
  • Templedean Home in Haddington,
  • Tenterfield, Haddington (opened 1951) and two small local authority homes in Tranent.
  • St Joseph’s List D School,Tranent.

Local authority homes for older people:

  • Cheylesmore (North Berwick), Waverley House (Gullane),
  • Redcroft (North Berwick).

Residential homes for adults with a learning disability:

  • Prestonkirk Hostel (East Linton), Algrade Home (Humbie) and Wedderburn (Inveresk).
  • Closure of East Fortune hospital units for adults with learning disability and later at Hopetoun Unit, Haddington.

Providing Housing to meet special needs.

The provision of purpose built housing for people with a disability in which they then could receive personal care and support was critical to the development of alternatives to entering institutional care. While some of the sheltered housing for older people continued to be located in new single purpose buildings, other housing was adapted or constructed as amenity housing with special building standards. The initial development was local authority led in partnership with Housing Associations.

In April 1981, only 86 “sheltered housing units” existed against the government recommended figure of 584 based on 50 units per 1000 pop. over 65. By 1983, the need indicator was changed to 75 units per 1000 pop. over 65. Actual provision was then 294 units with a target of 931. In 1996, 737 units were completed with 156 new units planned. After 1987, the new council community alarm service helped provide an emergency support to those at risk on their own throughout the area.

By 1990, specialist house providers were also building and marketing retirement housing for sale e.g. at Knox Court in Haddington and Station Road, North Berwick.

Estimate of Need in 1982

In a community of 10,000 people, there might be

  • 600 people aged 75 or more.
  • 20 children in care
  • 10 physically handicapped schoolchildren
  • 25 people in residential care
  • 20 people discharged from psychiatric hospitals in a year
  • 150 single parent families
  • 200 handicapped people needing day-to-day help.
  • 150 children with severe behaviour problems.
  • 20 people with a learning disability living at home.

These figures were based on the report Social Workers, Their Role and Tasks and applied to England and Wales.

Some people would appear under more than one group. Variation would apply in the East Lothian communities but they offer an indication of the range of the potential challenge to Social Work services at the time.