Dirleton | Homes

Homes | Utilities | Shops & Services

In both the main settlements, housing expansion has continued.

In Dirleton, local authority housing added in the 1920s and 1930s though built of harled brick, retains a vernacular style. Even the housing association development of the 1990s is of a sympathetic scale and style.

Between the wars about 30 houses were built, extending the village to the east and also, to the south at the western end. During the second half of the 20th century the number of houses has grown steadily but not dramatically. After the war five prefabricated houses were built to help meet a post-war demand when conventional building materials were in short supply. They were demolished in 1982 when Maxwell Road was developed. Groups of new houses were built at Gylers Road in the 1940s and 1950s and by the East Lothian Housing Association at Castlemains Place in the 1990s. The latter has two associated workshops to encourage the establishment of small businesses in the village. Cottages in Chapelhill were demolished to make way for houses for the elderly. Major developments were latterly curtailed by the limited capacity of the sewer although this was rectified at the end of the century. This paved the way for a development of five houses at the paddock beside the Open Arms Hotel. Some council houses have been sold to the tenants leaving 73 council houses today compared to 94 in 1985.

The first local authority housing in Gullane was built between the wars, with some 80 houses in Hopetoun Terrace, Middleshot Road, Hamilton Crescent and Hamilton Road. The Third Statistical Account, published in 1953, gives the total number of houses as 450 with very little building taking place in the immediate post-war years. However the 1950s saw the beginning of an increase in housing with a large council house development of 135 houses, chiefly in Muirfield Crescent, Muirfield Drive and Muirfield Terrace.

The housing expansion continued in the early 1960s and early 1970s with private developments at Broadgait Green, Erskine Road and Muirfield Park and the nearby ‘linked’ housing area. At the same time the council estate also grew with houses being added to Muirfield Drive and Muirfield Terrace and the building of Garleton Court. Some of the early large houses have now been subdivided and a significant amount of infill building has taken place, much of it in the gardens of larger properties. Other newer developments include those at the former Muirfield House, at the Paddock (behind Stamford Hall) and, most recently, on the former Gullane station site. The borders of the village have been extended too with developments to the south and east at Muirfield Steading, Fentoun Gait and West Fenton Gait and to the north of Erskine Road. Local authority housing has decreased in the last 15 years with the sale of council houses. In 1999 the number stood at 145 compared to 236 in 1985. Although much of the latter half of the century has seen a drift away of local young people, it would seem that in the late 1990s a noticeable number are choosing to return to Gullane to set up home.

Harpenside Crescent, Dirleton, with stooks of wheat in field beyond, belonging to Castlemains farm. (A&J Gordon)

Harpenside Crescent, Dirleton, with stooks of wheat in field beyond, belonging to Castlemains farm. (A&J Gordon)


Gullane water is distributed from a tank on Gullane Hill, initially pumped from Whiteadder reservoir to Castle Moffat treatment works, near Nunraw Abbey, Garvald, flowing from there via a holding tank in the Garleton Hills. In 2000, work along the A198 was part of East of Scotland Water’s new main. Dirleton water comes from a holding tank at Kingston, parts of the main supply having been renewed in 1999.

In 2000, work was completed to link to the main system the sewerage system in a narrow northern strip of Gullane, its sewage until then being discharged untreated into the Firth of Forth. The main system already took waste to the Gullane treatment works on the lower slopes of Gullane Hill and thence into Aberlady Bay. Houses to the south of the Scottish Fire Service Training School, Gullane have a system of collecting ‘surface water’ separately and channelling it into a burn near West Fenton. In the 1990s a new pipe was connected to the existing system at the Eel Burn bridge to take Dirleton sewage to the North Berwick treatment works instead of its being discharged untreated into the sea near Fidra. The old system, being at capacity, restricted housing development in Dirleton, with septic tanks being used for some new properties.

In the 1990s cleansing, administered by the local authority, ensured that domestic and trade wheelie-bins were emptied weekly, with a special uplift by arrangement for large items. Street cleaning was done weekly, twice a week along the main street in Gullane with a weekly truck handling litter picking and bin emptying, with Gullane Bents and Yellowcraig caravan site included. Mechanical beach cleaning was the responsibility of the Leisure & Tourism department.

There were permanent collection points for recycling bottles and cans in Gullane, a paper bank was available once a month, while used oil and other rubbish could be taken to North Berwick’s Civic Amenity Site.

Earlier telephone systems were superseded in 1974 by a partial electronic system when a new telephone exchange was opened at Muirfield Drive, Gullane. A fully electronic system was installed in January 1992. Lines began to go underground in the 1970s. At the end of the century there remain two public telephones in Gullane and one in Dirleton, which is still the traditional red design.

Shops & Services

Shopping patterns have changed generally in recent years, greatly influenced by increased car use. From the 1980s many people have made use of supermarkets in North Berwick, Haddington and the outskirts of Edinburgh where once they would have shopped locally.

Despite this, Gullane has done better than many villages in retaining its local shops.

Main Street, Gullane, 1940s. The Wishing Well Café on the left has been replaced by ‘La Potiniere’. The ivycovered building on the right is the Golf Inn Hotel. (A&J Gordon)

Main Street, Gullane, 1940s. The Wishing Well Café on the left has been replaced by ‘La Potiniere’. The ivy-covered building on the right is the Golf Inn Hotel. (A&J Gordon)

Nevertheless changes have taken place. The 1953 Third Statistical Account gives around 30 shops in Gullane, reduced to 21 in 1977. In 2000 there were still 21. These include three grocery stores plus butchers, bakery, greengrocers, newsagent with confectionery, men’s outfitters and ladies’ dress shop. However there is now no ironmonger, fish shop, general draper nor dairy. Other types of businesses, such as a travel agency, antiques, interior design and curtain shops and a health and beauty salon, have moved in. There are, besides, two hairdressers, a solicitor/estate agent, chemist, charity shop, post office and bank. The original four Co-operative shops (bakery, grocery, drapery and butcher) were gradually reduced until, at the end of the century, only a grocery store remains. Changes occurred in opening hours in the 1990s with a number of shops remaining open during the lunch hour and on Wednesday afternoons, once a universal half day. The monthly Monday holiday in the winter is now a thing of the past. Both the Co-operative store and Gullane mini-market have late opening until 8pm and 7pm respectively with the latter also opening on Sunday. At the other end of the day, the paper shop and mini-market are both open at 6am and the baker at 7.30am so all in all there has been a noticeable extension of hours.

In the Dry Goods Co-op shop in Gullane, in the 1950s:

‘At approximately 12 noon, a fire was lit in the back shop and an assistant from the adjacent bread shop cooked dinners from provisions supplied from bakery, butcher, and bakehouse. At one o’clock staff from all the shops in the area who were unable to go home for lunch gathered in the back shop and had their meal. This practice was stopped after a few years.’

Bob McArthur was an employee of the East Lothian Co-op Society, 1950-91

In the Third Statistical Account of 1953 Gullane is credited with eight hotels along with three restaurants or cafés, with three hotels in Dirleton and a teashop attached to a shop. In 1977 the hotels in Gullane numbered six and restaurants/cafés four. At the end of the century Gullane has five hotels, four restaurants/cafés and one bar providing food. Of the eating establishments, La Potinière has a national reputation. Dirleton’s two hotels are the Castle Inn, a 19th century coaching inn, and The Open Arms. The latter was converted from a guesthouse to a tearoom in 1947 and shortly afterwards became a hotel. During the summer a marquee erected in the garden is used for wedding receptions (15 in 1999) and other functions. Throughout the parish a small number of homes offer bed and breakfast facilities.

In 1950, Dirleton had two shops and a post office. During the century the latter has occupied no less than nine different premises. At the Millennium there remains only a general village store, which also houses the village post office. The only other retail business is The Gallery, housed in the former laundry buildings. A variety of other small, mostly one-person, businesses operate in and from the village.

Throughout the period vans and delivery services have supplemented the shopping provision in both villages. In this way fresh fish is available every day. Others provide fruit and vegetables, ice cream, lemonade, tea, coal, cleaning products, logs and gourmet foods. Milk deliveries continue by way of the institution that is George Bell who has been delivering to our doorsteps for 28 years, albeit from a variety of suppliers.

Despite there being far fewer cars around, after the war Gullane had four garages (one kept by a blacksmith/motor mechanic) and Dirleton one, compared with today’s total of two in Gullane and one outside Dirleton on the road to North Berwick.

Animal health has been served since 1963 by the veterinary practice of Mrs Pat Morris who also has a surgery in North Berwick.

East Lothian District Library van leaving Ruthven Road, Dirleton. The cottage beyond is Woodend.

East Lothian District Library van leaving Ruthven Road, Dirleton. The cottage beyond is Woodend.

The mobile library visits Dirleton once a week, making two stops in the village.

Away from the two villages, several shops have appeared during the 1990s under the umbrella of Fenton Barns Retail and Leisure Village. The original farm shop dates from the 1950s and sells farm produce and other goods with much of its stock being locally grown or prepared. The later additions include outlets for antiques and collectables, local crafts, designer furnishing fabrics at discount prices, prints, signs, pine furniture and clothing.

In Gullane the incoming mail was still sorted in the back room of the present post office until February 1990. Since then it has been sorted in North Berwick for their own Gullane deliveries by three full-time and two part-time postmen (and women). On weekdays in Gullane there are two deliveries per day and bicycles are still in general use. A team of postmen and women using vans makes deliveries in Dirleton, and the rural part of the parish. After the war there were four letterboxes in Gullane, increasing to seven in the 1970s. Dirleton has two.