Dirleton | Economy
Golf is the main attraction for visitors to Gullane, as well as being the dominant leisure activity for residents and an important source of employment (see below).
The most obvious tourist attraction in Dirleton is the castle. Over the years the annual visitor numbers have remained fairly constant, exceeding 20,000. In 1982 the guardianship and responsibility for maintenance of the property passed to Historic Scotland, although ownership was retained by the National Trust for Scotland. The fine beehive doocot was restored in 1983-84. A new shop and revised entrance was erected in 1990, followed in 1991 by the creation in the west garden of an 1850s-style garden design. In 1996 the existing herbaceous borders were joined to form the world’s longest continuous herbaceous border, 709 feet long and with around 300 varieties of plants, a fact formally recognised in the 1998 Guinness Book of Records.
Still on the garden theme, both villages participate in Scotland’s Garden Scheme. In Dirleton every second year about 15 gardens, large and small, are opened to the public one weekend in June and attract around 800 visitors with teas provided by the church. In 1998 the event raised about £2000 for local and national charities. In Gullane several groups of gardens have been open over the years under this scheme. In 1999 Whim Road gardens’ opening contributed to both the parish church and St Adrian’s. Gardens at West Fenton raised money for Riding for the Disabled.
Gullane and Yellowcraig are popular beaches for day visitors but do not now see the great influx once common on fine summer Sundays through to the 1980s when crowds streamed in by bus and car. Yellowcraig Country Park, an area of beach, woodland and bents, was established in the early 1970s, by the East Lothian County Council. The Ranger Service provides guided walks describing the flora and fauna of the area. During 1999 the official number of people recorded visiting Yellowcraig came to 274,000. The area is also well used by local people to exercise both their dogs and themselves and the barbecue area is popular on summer evenings. Edinburgh taxi drivers run an annual children’s outing to Yellowcraig in June, a convoy noted for its streamers, balloons and honking horns.
The Caravan Club site at Yellowcraig was opened in July 1973 by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. It operates from April to October providing 116 pitches to members and non-members, is well used and brings many visitors to the area.
Gullane Bay in recent years has attracted a regular flow of windsurfers, mostly apparently from outside the immediate area. The last few years of the century have also seen the annual staging by the Edinburgh Triathlon Club of an event from the Gullane beach area, with 1999 seeing an international triathlon event at the same venue. Horse-riders too use the beach and a designated track is provided. The car park at Gullane Bents is managed by the council and has a pitch leased to an ice-cream van in summer. In 1956 the area was extended and tarmac roads put down. In 1957 parking fees were raised from one to two shillings (10p). By 1961, 450 cars were expected daily in the spring and summer period and in 1999 a total of 284,000 visitors were recorded. Improvements in recent years include access to the beach for disabled visitors, better toilet facilities, picnic tables and, in 1999, new information boards.
Within the villages small businesses have been the norm. In the 1990s the building trade in its various aspects accounted for 16 of these and gardening for three. One-offs involve health and beauty treatment, picture framing and computer consultancy. More unusual is a small Gullane firm, which specialises in the stringing of all types of sports rackets. It is the only full-time specialist service of its type in Scotland and has a number of well-known clients. The long-established Dirleton laundry closed in 1973 as the result of a huge increase in oil prices the year before. Furniture making took place on a small scale at Dirleton and Kingston and continues at Gullane and Fenton Barns. In 1977, three industrial units were created in the former Kingston school. Two of these were used by joiners and one by a golf club maker. A bakery firm took over one unit in 1995, and subsequently a second. At the end of the century ten people were employed in the bakery and 18 in three retail outlets. One joiner remains. A further joinery business in the area ceased in the mid 1950s and an agricultural engineering firm moved away in 1962.
In the hinterland area, a significant number of small businesses have become concentrated in the region of Fenton Barns, making use of former airfield buildings no longer needed for farming. For two years around 1960, one of the hangars was used to clean and surface coat the roadway sections of the Forth Road Bridge. Other businesses have been more long lasting. A haulage business, founded 40 years ago in Drem, moved to the hangar site in 1984. It employs 20 people, owns 21 haulage vehicles and has contracts UK wide. The turkey-processing and mushroom-growing enterprises begun by the Chalmers-Watson family are covered in the section on farming. A much newer venture is Edinburgh Preserves, the brainchild of two young local men, which began trading in March 1995. Beginning with a single product, they now produce over 50 chutneys, pickles, jams, curds and sauces.
Several businesses appear under the umbrella of the Fenton Barns Retail and Leisure Village, developed in the 1990s. Some of these are retail outlets but others include the Scottish Archery Centre, a fireplace manufacturer, Jane Connachan Golf Centre with driving range and 9-hole pitch and putt course with tuition provided, a ceramics and glass workshop, furniture manufacture, upholstery service, picture framing, sign design, tiling and a cattery. Some other businesses are car-related. The Game Conservancy Scottish Fair is organised from an office at Fenton Barns.
Rattlebags quarry provided a hard, trachyte stone, which has long been used for building in the parish and beyond. After the war, it was worked by Baxters of Tranent and supplied stone for Haddington Sheriff Court. The monks of Nunraw have owned it since the 1960s and used its stone to build their new abbey. Much of the quarry has been filled in but a small working face remains open but unused.
Craigs quarry was worked by Dobsons of Gullane until the late 1950s producing roadstone. It was filled with refuse in the 1970s.
In 2000, there are 14 farms in the parish, varying in size from 220 acres (90 ha) to 690 acres (280 ha). They are Archerfield Home Farm, Castlemains, Chapel, Congalton Mains, East Fenton, Fenton Barns, Ferrygate, Highfield, Kingston, Newhouse, New Mains, Queenstonbank, Saltcoats and West Fenton. Apart from Archerfield Home Farm and Saltcoats, during the last 50 years each of these farms has been run by three generations of the same family. In 1945, there were two additional farms, Muirfield and Williamstone. Part of Muirfield farm was sold in 1978 to John Stevenson & Son, potato growers of Luffness Mains, Aberlady. In 1987, most of the remainder was bought by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews, to reserve ground for car parking during future Open golf championships. When Miss Stella Moffat of Williamstone retired in 1983, the farm was sold to the neighbouring farms of Ferrygate and Newhouse, with a portion sold to the Gilsland Caravan Park. All but one of the farms is owner occupied – the exception being Saltcoats, which is part of the Luffness estate.
Castlemains farm with Dirleton Castle behind.
The growing of cereal crops and potatoes has been the mainstay on most of the farms in the parish during the last 50 years. A diary, kept by William James Simpson of Castlemains from 1913-51, provides a picture, at the end of world war two, of a farm typical of this parish while his son James and grandson Robert have detailed changes up to the end of the century.
|Roots||20||–||Horses||8||–||(14 during world war two)|
|Protein Peas||–||10||Beef cattle||24||98||(½ wintered for a third party)|
|Oilseed rape||–||11||Sheep (hoggs)||246||60||wintered for a third party.|
Equipment in 1950: three tractors; five horse and two tractor two furrow ploughs; 11 horse grubbers; one tractor cultivator; two horse corn drills; two fertiliser distributors; three mowers; three rakes; one turner; two hay sweeps and sprayer (these all horse-powered); four horse and one tractor binders; one baler; two horse and one tractor potato diggers; one hand and one powered potato sorters; one fixed thresher.
Equipment in 1999: five tractors and trailers; two four furrow ploughs; one 3 metre graindrill; one 24 metre fertiliser sprayer; one John Deere 2254 combine; one small and one large baler and a grain drying plant.
Throughout the parish combine harvesters arrived in the 1950s provided by contractors. Later most farmers bought self-propelled combines as well as installing grain-drying plants. By 1960 tractors had taken over from horses and farm buildings were adapted to house new equipment. New buildings for storing silage when it replaced hay in the 1950s and large cattle courts to enable mechanised winter-feeding then appeared.
Every farm has grown barley during the last 50 years and most of them have grown wheat as well. In 1945 everyone grew oats, but there was a steady decline in the use of oats for feeding stock. The wartime push to increase yields continued throughout the following 50 years with new varieties of both wheat and barley being developed to provide higher yields and shorter straw. There has been a continuing and expanding use of artificial fertilisers and chemical weed control throughout the period. Specialised firms, such as Crop Chemicals Ltd, at the Fenton Barns Industrial Village, advise on the type and minimum amount of pesticides and fertilisers that should be applied to growing crops. Most farmers carry out spraying, but, in the case of tall crops, such as oilseed rape, contractors are used.
In the last 20/30 years new strains of both barley and wheat have been developed for particular uses. Locally grown barley has been used for malting, whilst wheat is used for bread and biscuit milling and distilling. Yields have also increased substantially. In 1950, barley yields were of the order of 4-6 tonnes per hectare, increased to around 7-8 tonnes per hectare in the 1990s. Post-war yields of wheat similarly rose from 4-6 tonnes per hectare to 10 tonnes per hectare in the 1990s. All cereals produce a great deal of straw. Large round bales replaced the rectangular smaller bales of the early part of the period. In the 1990s large square bales made it easier to transport larger loads of straw to farms in the west of Scotland.
In 1945, every farm grew potatoes and Irish migrant workers were still being employed to gather the crop. The varieties grown at that time were Majestic and King Edward. From the 1960s Majestic, Redskin, Epicure and Maris Piper were the main varieties.
New factory markets for potatoes came into existence in the 1950s. The first was for crisps and, in the 1960s, chips. Suitable varieties were Maris Bard, Nadine and Lady Rosetta. Potatoes grown for the crisp manufacturers usually went to Golden Wonder at Bathgate. The 1960s also saw the introduction of artificial irrigation systems. Water was obtained from watercourses directly or via reservoirs, boreholes and wells, using various types of pumps and sprinkler systems. From the 1960s, some farmers co-operated with a commercial potato growing/buying organisation, guaranteeing a market for the crops; from the 1980s most let the ground allocated for potatoes to these organisations, which provided all the workers and equipment. Maincrop potato yields increased during the last 50 years, from 20/25 tonnes per hectare in 1950 to 40/50 tonnes per hectare by 2000.
In 1950, over half the land growing potatoes was producing early potatoes. Ten years later this had fallen to one third. The decline in growing early potatoes was due to increased competition from other parts of the UK where bigger yields were possible at an earlier date. Queenstonbank grew seed potatoes up to the 1950s and small quantities were grown on a few farms for 20 years from the 1970s. East Fenton grew seed potatoes for most of the period, with Pentland and Nickerson being the varieties provided for the seed trade in England. By the end of the century the growing of both early and seed potatoes had ended.
Old crops, new crops and horticultural crops: since the 18th century turnips and swedes had been a staple crop on all the farms, grown for feeding cattle and sheep in the winter. During the last 50 years the area devoted to these root crops, together with mangolds, fell from 170 ha in 1950 to 30 ha in the 1970s and to only 2 ha in 1999. With fewer sheep and lambs in the 1960s, because of market conditions and silage being used for feeding cattle, the growing of root crops declined and the area devoted to them fell.
Most farmers had grown sugar beet during the war, as it was not possible to import sugar cane. It was a labour intensive crop, from hand thinning and weeding of the young plants through to harvesting. The harvested crop was sent to the processing factory at Cupar in Fife by rail from Gullane, Dirleton and North Berwick railway stations. The factory closed in 1972. The area growing sugar beet varied from 25 ha to 80 ha between 1950 and 1970.
With the impending closure of the sugar beet processing factory, a group of East Lothian and Borders farmers set up a co-operative venture, the East Lothian and Border Association of Growers (ELBA Growers) in 1971. It launched a programme for the growing of vegetables on farms. Pilot crops of peas and sprouts were grown for freezing and canning in 1972. Speedy harvesting was possible because of the availability of mechanical vining machines. Farms which grew peas for the ELBA Growers included East Fenton, Fenton Barns, West Fenton (plus carrots) and Ferrygate (plus cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and leeks). Alastair Miller of Ferrygate was the Chairman of the ELBA Growers, and later Scotfresh Ltd, from 1974-89. Since the mid-1990s, all the pea growers have changed to growing protein peas for animal feed manufacturers, with the varieties grown yielding around 4 tonnes per hectare. There were 70ha of peas in 1980, 45ha in 1990 rising to 84ha in 1999.
In the 1970s a new crop appeared – oilseed rape, with the ‘oil’ used for the manufacture of margarine and cooking oil. Its yellow flowers and pungent smell in springtime was soon evident within the parish. Initially 14ha were grown, rising to 70ha in 1999. The yield is between 2½ to 4 tonnes per hectare,
Self-contained Congalton Gardens grew a variety of horticultural crops during the early part of the period, later concentrating on their wholesale business. In recent years they have grown only leeks. On a few farms, cabbages, sprouts and cauliflower have been grown for the last fifty years, and carrots for most of that time. Leeks and broccoli started to be grown about 1980. Changing market conditions were reflected in the area devoted to growing these crops. Cabbages with 32ha and carrots with 15ha, both peaked in the 1960s, whereas cauliflower reached 38ha in 1970. In the early part of the period farmers grew their own crops selling them at the Edinburgh wholesale markets. Increasingly from the 1960s farmers let their land to wholesalers/contractors who carried out the whole cycle from planting to harvest.
Another example of crop diversification was the growing of strawberries at Ferrygate for the retail and ‘pick-your-own’ trade. This venture started in 1971 with 3ha, increasing each year until 8ha were grown in 1975. Initially, the work involved suited the annual farm routines, but difficulties experienced in recruiting pickers saw a reduction in the strawberry-growing area and an end to the activity in 1984.
Beef cattle: after the war some farms, including Castlemains and Queenstonbank, were fattening Aberdeen Angus crossed with Hereford bullocks shipped to Glasgow from the west of Ireland. This trade declined in the 1960s. Steve Graham at Queenstonbank then bought Aberdeen Angus-cross bullocks from Orkney, fattening around 200 in the steading and 150 on summer grazing. Other farmers bought store cattle at the autumn sales in Edinburgh, Lanark and Stirling, for winter fattening in the steadings. This released grazing land for more profitable cropping. Additionally, some farmers kept their own herd of suckler cows rearing calves and fattening them as bullocks for eventual sale. From the 1960s, the importation of, usually, French breeds brought changes to the beef herds in the parish. The number of beef cattle kept during the period peaked at almost 2000 in 1970 falling to 1100 in 1999 when only half the farms fattened bullocks.
Dairy cattle: in 1950, there were 227 cows and heifers in milk on seven farms. Two farms, Muirfield and New Mains had kept small dairy herds for a few years after the war. Two farms, Fenton Barns and East Fenton, continued their large dairying operations until 1955 and 1997 respectively.
Fenton Barns operated one of the most successful dairy farms in the country. Established in 1923, it was the first farm to supply certified milk to households in Edinburgh. It had a 200- cow byre, a state-of-the-art-milking parlour and milk processing plant. This enterprise continued until 1955 when the milking herd of 175 cows was sold in order to release space for the growing turkey-rearing business.
By 1960, East Fenton had 250 dairy cattle, which had halved by the time milk production ended in 1997. In 1950 two bulls were kept, but after the establishment of Artificial Insemination Centres the performance of the herd improved significantly. The herd of Ayrshire cows was replaced by Friesian Holstein cows, which resulted in much higher milk yields. In 1950, the average yield was 1000 litres per lactation. This had doubled by the 1990s. A seven-a-side herringbone-milking parlour installed in 1972, meant that one man could milk 120 cows in three hours. New cattle courts were built making it much easier for feeding silage to the cows in winter. The milk was sold to the Scottish Milk Marketing Board, later Scottish Milk, for pasteurisation and processing. A tanker collected it once a day after the morning milking.
Sheep: after the war, ewes and lambs were traditionally fattened in the winter by letting them feed on grass sown after early potatoes, followed by root crops and, where available, sugar beets tops. In the 1950s, Queenstonbank was the first farm in Scotland to fatten lambs inside the steading to gain weight quickly and produce higher quality meat. This activity ended in the 1960s, when there was a decline in market prices, with the meat trade requiring smaller, leaner lambs. Sheep and lambs were bought at markets as far distant as St Boswells and Lairg. However, some farms fattened some hundreds of lambs right through to the late 1970s – the Elders, at Chapel, continuing up to the end of the century. In the last two decades there has been an increase in the number of French sheep breeds seen on the farms.
In the 1990s only a few farms were fattening lambs, with Castlemains and Ferrygate wintering for hill farm friends. During this period Ferrygate has fattened lambs on the residue of the broccoli crop. For much of the last fifty years a substantial proportion of the sheep on the farms belonged to dealers who paid the farmers to look after them – ‘a bed and breakfast’ arrangement.
Pigs: only Fenton Barns has kept pigs since the war. A significant expansion of the pig unit took place in 1970, with the first environmentally controlled pig-fattening shed constructed to hold 750 pigs. In 1972, the unit was expanded to house 250 sows, with a further 250 catered for in 1974. The fattening of pigs continued up to 1999, when, after weathering severe fluctuations in market prices in the 1990s, the herd was disbanded.
Poultry et al: after the war Ferrygate had diversified into egg production. Domestic straw yards were overtaken by hens kept in ‘deep litter’ houses, which was a halfway stage to the introduction, in the 1960s, of the intensive battery cage system accommodated in specialised buildings. Laying hens numbered 14,000 in 1970 rising to 45,000 in 1985, falling to 28,000 laying pullets at the end of the century, producing approximately 8m eggs per year.
1948 saw the beginning of a new poultry enterprise at Fenton Barns, the production and sale of day-old chicks from a new strain of Danish birds. The chicks were sold to farmers who grew them to the size required by the broiler chicken processors. In 1956, this initiative led to the setting up of Chunky Chicks Ltd, jointly with another poultry farmer, D.B. Marshall of Ratho. By the end of the decade this activity ended at Fenton Barns so that more attention could be given to the expanding turkey enterprise.
In 1947, brothers Rupert and Irvine Chalmers-Watson of Fenton Barns decided to establish a breeding flock of turkeys. Broad-breasted American turkeys were subsequently imported to form the nucleus of a breeding programme. Most of these early developments took place on rented farms elsewhere in East Lothian. In 1962, Rupert Chalmers-Watson joined forces with two of his largest customers in England to form British United Turkeys Ltd (BUT) to develop more widely the turkey egg-hatching business. BUT expanded rapidly in the UK until 1978, when it was sold to an American organisation. The original family farming company, DC Watson & Sons Ltd (DCW), then reassumed the residual turkey business.
The rearing of turkeys continued alongside the egg-hatching activities. Purpose-built sheds were constructed during the 1960s, with two sheds 500 ft x 50 ft, together with a new packing station and canteen for 140 employees being built in 1974. By 1979, 20,000 turkey eggs were being hatched per week and 1million day-old poults were sold. In 1980, ¼ million turkeys were reared, two-thirds for the oven-ready market, the remainder for turkey-meat products. An increase in imported oven-ready turkeys saw a move to producing more added-value products based on turkey meat. In 1981, Fenton Barns (Scotland) Ltd. was formed to develop this activity. Live turkey production ceased at the end of 1993, as it became more economic to purchase poultry meat from South America. In 1998, the company was sold to Brown Brothers who employed 80 people in the year 2000.
During the mid-1970s, a crop of partridges was grown in the world war one barrack block at Fenton Barns on a deep litter system. An investigation showed that mushrooms could be produced using the deep litter. Two years later, 5 tonnes of mushrooms were produced per week. Subsequently DCW, joined forces with an Irish company, Monaghan Mushrooms Ltd, (MM) to expand the operation. After four years DCW sold their interest to MM, who continued the mushroom-growing enterprise. By 2000, they had a workforce of 250 and were producing 200,000 lbs of mushrooms per week.
After leaving college in 1966, Keith Chalmers-Watson started a small game bird rearing unit, specialising in grey partridges for sporting release and the table market. Later expansion saw the annual production rise to around 45,000 birds in the late 1990s. During the last 30 years Keith Chalmers-Watson also expanded his hobby, the conservation and breeding of rare game birds. By 2000, the collection had upwards of 60 species, a quarter of the world’s game birds, with some of the birds being released in their Asian countries of origin.
In 1950, there were 78 working horses in the parish, an average of five per farm. Ten years later the working horse had virtually disappeared. The most common working horses had been the Clydesdales. However, horses did not disappear from all the parish farms. During the last 30 years, Mrs Eileen Simpson of Highfield has built up and developed a breeding stud of Connemara ponies. Using the farm facilities and a nucleus of two stallions and six mares, she has achieved a high reputation for their progeny. Foals have been sold widely in Britain, with some exported to the USA, Australia and Germany.
At West Fenton in 1973 there were livery facilities for only two horses owners. By 1990, 17 horses were catered for. In that year, on the initiative of Gill Morrison, a group of disabled riders and their helpers moved to West Fenton, forming the Muirfield Group of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). By 2000 the number of horses and ponies kept at livery had reached 40, with a dozen used by the disabled riders. RDA sessions are held on three half days each week with 50 to 60 riders coming from as far as Dunbar and Edinburgh. There are around 45 voluntary helpers. Fund-raising events take place, which, together with support from local businesses and friends, have enabled the group to provide their services without charge to the riders. As the riding arena is outdoors, sessions stop between Christmas and Easter. At the end of the century plans were put in train to provide an indoor riding arena. A major fund-raising campaign was instigated and it is hoped that, if successful in obtaining National Lottery funding, the indoor riding arena will have been built and brought in to operation by 2002.
Governmental controls on agriculture have continued ever since 1945. With the entry of the UK into the European Economic Community (EEC), later the European Union (EU), bureaucracy has increased further. Since 1993, all farms in the parish have had to leave fields fallow – set aside – to conform with EU diktats, which have attempted to reduce the amount of cereals grown. In 1999, set aside accounted for 182ha (7%) of the land farmed in the parish. In the 1990s West Fenton and Queenstonbank have used set aside land for conservation purposes.
Of all the changes that have taken place on the farms in the parish since 1945 the greatest has been the reduction in the labour force. In 1950, there were 235 men and 25 women working full-time, and 30 men and 40 women part-time. By 1980, there had been a substantial fall, with 93 men and eight women working full-time and 14 men part-time. However more members of the farming families were then working on their farms – 17 men full-time, and seven men and five women part-time, with a similar number at the end of the century. In 1999, the number of employed people had declined further to 32 men and six women full-time, with nine men and eight women part-time. This represents an almost 80% reduction in the number of people working both full-time and part-time on the farms over 50 years.
Golf has shaped Gullane for over 150 years with its influence increasing during each decade of the last fifty years with five golf courses in the parish. These are the three courses of Gullane Golf Club, Luffness New and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers’ Muirfield course. In the second half of the 20th century the number of full-time employees engaged in greenkeeping, administration and catering doubled, reaching almost 100 by 2000. Catering staff and caddies obtain part-time employment.
Over many years local men have been employed in golf and greenkeeping. At the end of the century, the latter in particular has developed a proper career structure with something to offer young people wishing to remain in the parish. The Watt family provides an example. Two brothers became golf professionals, with Hugh Watt being the first professional at Gullane Golf Club. A third brother, Tommy, joined the Gullane greenkeeping staff in 1949 and eventually became head greenkeeper, retiring in 1985. Such long service is not unusual. Luffness New Golf Club has had only three head greenkeepers during the last 63 years and there have been only four men in charge at Muirfield since 1949. At Muirfield the head greenkeeper or course manager and his staff are the key men in maintaining the reputation of the course. Throughout most of the past 50 years there has been a team of eight men carrying out greenkeeping duties. Outstanding amongst these was James Logan. He prepared the Muirfield course for five Open championships, one Curtis Cup, one Walker Cup and one Ryder Cup. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1973.
Founded in 1882, Gullane Golf Club has had three courses since 1910. It also runs the children’s course at the Smiddy Green. Members are drawn from East Lothian, Edinburgh and beyond, including overseas. In 1950, these numbered around 400, rising to 947 by 1977, and 916 at the end of the century. In the mid-1950s there was no joining fee and the annual subscription was eight guineas, with the cost of a round of golf on course No.1 being six shillings. In 2000, the joining fee is three times the annual subscription of £311, with a round on No.1 costing £56 on weekdays and £70 at weekends. 30,000 visitors played over the three courses in 1999. In the 1950s the club’s turnover amounted to £13,000, and rose to £1million by the mid-1990s. The business aspects of club management have become increasingly important, manifested in changes in administration and management structures. A clubhouse for visitors and the club’s administration staff, built at a cost of £60,000, was opened in 1993. Course development has also taken place and a change in course management in 1993 saw the appointment of an overall course manager with separate foremen in charge of the individual courses.
In 1980, Archie Baird, the historian for both Gullane Golf Club and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers converted the building next to the Gullane professional’s shop into ‘The Heritage of Golf Museum’.
At the end of the war the anti-invasion concrete blocks on the No.1 and No.2 courses were buried. Sheep had been grazing on Gullane Hill for many years, affecting greenkeeping. However, grazing rights ended in 1950, leaving only the rabbits to cause problems, which were greatly reduced with the onset of myxomatosis later in that decade. Rabbits caused problems again in the 1970s but systematic pest control measures have reduced their damage considerably.
During the last 50 years the maintenance of the courses has become totally mechanised. Until the mid 1950s hand mowers were used to cut the greens. Motor mowers then took over with tractor-drawn gang mowers cutting the fairways by 1960 and increasingly sophisticated equipment being introduced over the following decades. In 1950, the mains water supply had been connected to all 54 greens, these being hand watered until 1983. The original well was brought back into use in the 1980s to supply a distribution system for the new water sprinkler system. In 1993, a new well was drilled to supply up to 5,000 gallons per hour to the greens, and travelling sprinklers were bought for watering fairways.
Gullane golf course No. 1 – the key events: over the years a number of major national and international events have taken place. Since 1966 this has included acting as a venue for the final qualifying rounds for all the Open golf championships held at Muirfield. Other major events for men included the Scottish Professional championship, 1953; the Scottish Open Amateur Strokeplay, 1967 and 1977; the Scottish Amateur championships, 1983 and 1990; the seniors’ Open Amateur championship in 2000. Ladies’ events included the British Ladies’ championships, 1947 and 1970; the Ladies’ Home Internationals 1947, 1960 and 1984; the Scottish Ladies’ Amateur championships 1964, 1979 and 1994 and the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Strokeplay in 1993. Events for youths included the Jacques Leglise Trophy, 1965 and 1981; the British Boys’ championships 1965 and 1981, and the European Boys’ Team championship in 1998.
Gullane Ladies Golf Club
Formed in 1904, Gullane Ladies Golf Club shares the Gullane Golf Club clubhouse, but with its own entrance and separate lounges. It has been involved, along with Gullane Golf Club, in the staging of the major ladies’ events mentioned above. Since 1945, the number of members has been in the range of 300 to 400, with annual subscriptions rising from £7.50 in the 1950s to £250 at the end of the century.
A number of members have been highly successful in national and international events. Scottish Ladies’ champions were: Jean Anderson (Donald) 1947, 1949 and 1952; Marjory Draper (Peel) 1954; Connie Lugton 1971; Lesley Hope 1975 and Jayne Smith (Ford) in 1999. Lesley Nicholson, in 1999, played in the Vagliano Trophy and in the Home Internationals and European Team championship. Since 1945, five members of the club have been chosen to play in Curtis Cup matches: Jean Donald, Marjory Peel, Marjory Fowler, Margaret Nichol, and Catriona Matthew.
Admission to Dirleton Castle Golf Club has always been restricted to residents of the parish of Dirleton, making it very much a local club. It does not have its own clubhouse and plays its golf over the Gullane courses. A legal agreement in 1983 integrated the club with Gullane Golf Club, limiting members to 100 and making membership of Gullane Golf Club a pre-requisite of entry into Dirleton Castle. Amongst its achievements are 11 East Lothian County Cup wins in the past 50 years. The club has a proud history and will celebrate 150 years in 2004.
Dirleton Castle Ladies Golf Club was founded in 1921, and all the members must be resident within the parish. Competitions are played on Gullane Golf Club No. 2 and No. 3 courses. Membership is in the range of 40-50.
Other clubs without their own courses include Gullane Comrades’ Golf Club. Founded in 1921, primarily for ex-servicemen, membership is drawn from Gullane Golf Club and Dirleton Castle Golf Club parish residents, with trophies played for over Gullane and Muirfield courses, although the latter concession was withdrawn in 1999. There is also a number of clubs within clubs, with membership by invitation.
Young people and golf: golf is very accessible to local children. The children’s course is available at no charge and school children aged 9-14 whose parents either live in the parish or are members of Gullane Golf Club can play on the No. 3 course at any time. In 2000, the annual permit cost £18. Gullane Club and Gullane Ladies both have juniors’ sections and Dirleton Castle also has junior members. The Peel Trophy, a scratch competition competed for equally by boys and girls of 16 and under, was begun in 1950 and is played for on Gullane No. 3 Course.
Luffness New Golf Club, established in 1894, has an all male membership. For many years post-war Luffness was a second club for Edinburgh golfers, a links course for winter play. As a consequence local members are a small minority, with still a large Edinburgh representation. In 1972, a concerted effort was made to find new members. In 1981 it had 459 members, increasing to 708 by 1999.
After the war it was necessary to undertake a great deal of work to bring the fairways and greens up to good standard. This work was not helped by the presence of the anti-invasion concrete blocks some of which were buried, whilst others, in 1963, were used in the construction of the Cockenzie Power Station. For a few years from 1949 sheep were to be seen grazing on the course.
Starting in 1945, three attempts were made to buy the course from the landowners – Hopes of Luffness. At the third attempt in 1979 the course was bought for £150,000. In 1974/5 improvements were made to the clubhouse, head greenkeeper’s cottage and provision of equipment storage, with further additions between 1987 and 1992. In 1991, a watering system of pop-up sprinklers to the greens, tees and fairways was completed at a cost of almost £150,000. From 1966, the Luffness New course was also selected for playing the final qualifying rounds of the Open championships when held at Muirfield.
Muirfield Golf Course and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, a private men-only club, moved to Muirfield in 1891. In the late 1990s, the maximum number of members was 550, with 75 overseas members, paying an annual subscription of £675. At that time visitors were accepted at £85 per round on Tuesday and Thursday provided they had a handicap of 18 or better. Ladies were allowed to play but not eat in the clubhouse. On the course a hand watering system with some 30 hose points was increased to 51 points in 1993. It was only in 1998 that an automatic watering system was installed for watering the fairways with the greens remaining to be watered manually.
The Open Golf championships
The Honourable Company has hosted seven Open Golf championships since 1945; in 1948, 1959, 1966, 1972, 1980, 1987 and 1992. The 1948 Open is remembered for having been won by the golfing legend, Henry Cotton, whose prize was around £300. (In 1992, Nick Faldo won £95,000). A local golfer, Guy Robertson-Durham, qualified to play in the 1948 Open and was chosen to play in a four-ball match in the company of King George VI, who had spent some time watching the event.
The Open Golf championships at Muirfield make a considerable impact on the area. The 1972 Open was the first to feature a large tented village and a worldwide media presence with television needs to the fore. For the three subsequent Open championships the number of spectators has exceeded 130,000. A local firm, J. & R. Hay, first employed in 1972, has undertaken the joinery work, not only at Muirfield, but at all the Opens since.
At Muirfield car parks and hospitality tents are located in nearby fields with a bridge over the main road providing access to a temporary caravan park. There is a helicopter base at West Fenton Farm. A bus shuttle service to and from Drem station connects with Scotrail’s ‘Golflink’ services. There is an augmented bus service to and from Edinburgh, but most people come to Muirfield by road. Car-parking restrictions in the village not only inconvenience residents but also affect trade for local shops.
Reception at Dirleton Castle for Open Golf Championships, 1980.
There is also a credit side. All hotels are fully booked well in advance and upwards of a quarter of the homes in the district have visitors to stay, many as paying guests, and well over 5% of residents let their houses. The extensive media coverage highlights Gullane as a tourist destination. A large proportion of people living in the parish attend the Open on one or more days, with many obtaining work at Muirfield or jobs resulting from the Open. These jobs include teenage litter pickers, through to the members of local golf clubs who act as stewards around the course.
Other major golf events at Muirfield
Muirfield also hosted other international and national events. Since 1948 these have included the Ryder Cup 1973; the Walker Cup 1959 and 1979; Home Internationals 1948, 1956 and 1976; the British Amateur championships 1954, 1974, 1990 and 1998; and the Scottish Amateur championships 1949, 1955, 1962 and 1968. Ladies’ events: the Curtis Cup 1952 and 1984, and the Vagliano Trophy 1963 and 1984.