Dirleton | Leisure
Gullane’s original village hall was built in 1902 and by 1945, still under military command, it was looking the worse for wear. A replacement was proposed, a ‘memorial hall’ to those who had died in the second world war. However, in 1945, permission for new building was strictly regulated and refurbishment of the old hall was agreed on. A village council steered the project and the East Lothian Courier reported on a ‘building transformed’ on its re-opening in June 1948 after much local fund-raising. The ‘memorial’ idea was transferred to playing fields and a pavilion, opened in 1952, next to the site of a proposed new primary school and close to planned district council housing.
By 1953, the village council had become Gullane Community Association with responsibility for drawing to the attention of the district council any local matter which it was felt needed to be addressed. It made plain to a well-attended public meeting that it could fund only minor repairs to the hall and recommended that a new hall be built. Thanks to Ian Bowhill of Stamford Hall, who offered to match the village fund-raising pound for pound, the new hall was opened in 1958, at a cost of £10,000 on a site behind the old hall. With the demolition of the latter, it acquired a convenient parking area, which remained for many years rough and muddy. However, it underwent a transformation one Saturday morning in 1995 when public-spirited local tradesmen guided enthusiastic villagers in the laying of a brick paver surface over the whole area. A side wall had to be replaced in 1973 and fund-raising in 1988 provided roof repairs and conversion of the heating system from oil to gas. An access ramp and toilet for the disabled were installed in 1993. A new kitchen, double-glazing and a new roof followed in 1998. Constant fund-raising is needed to keep the hall viable but it would still not have been possible without grants from the Scottish Office, local authorities and the Lottery Fund.
Dirleton village hall was built soon after the war due to the joint efforts of the British Legion and the village association using voluntary labour. It was much used for village activities but the limitations of its construction, due to lack of finance and shortage of materials, began to tell and it became less used. It was taken over by the district council in 1974 and the higher rents they charged further reduced its use. By 1999, it was in need of extensive refurbishment and was little used.
Dirleton itself is centred round Dirleton Green. Formerly common ground, cattle grazed here until 1948. Under council ownership it is enjoyed by both local people and visitors and it is here that the Dirleton Games are held each year. These annual games lapsed during the war but were restarted in 1960 and continued until the 1970s when they again lapsed. They restarted in 1990 and remained an annual event at the end of the century. The format latterly included children’s competitions, stalls and sideshows. In the early 1990s a scramble competition for vintage motorbikes took place in Archerfield estate and a dance was held in the evening. A swing park and public toilets are at the top of the Green by the castle.
Gullane Games, with Games Day firmly fixed on the first Saturday in August, has a long history. The original games were professional but since the end of the first world war Gullane Games Day has been mainly a children’s day. The arrival of the shows (fair) on Goose Green is also part of the tradition. In the 1970s with a new and younger committee Gullane Games became a Games Week with three or four additional events and the re-introduction of the selecting of a local girl as Miss Gullane. By the 1990s, Games Week covered eight days with a variety of competitions and entertainments for all ages, with many locals and visitors planning their holidays around it. Games Day itself enjoys a very traditional form with races and events for toddlers, children and adults, and a variety of displays and attractions. The Dalkeith and Monktonhall Brass Band provide music throughout the afternoon. The very last event is the fancy dress parade up the main street and back. In recent years, the Games committee has run a Christmas Eve event for the children in the village hall. Gullane Games’ success is testament to a great deal of hard work by its all-male committee some of whom have been involved for many years, joined by younger volunteers coming forward.
It is encouraging to be able to report a good number of active local clubs and groups but inevitably some have come and some gone (and some done both) over the last 50 years mirroring the social changes that have taken place. One loss was the Gullane branch of the British Legion, active post-war, which stopped functioning in 1972.
The under-fives still do quite well. Half way through the period there was music and movement along with mothers and toddlers. These have been replaced by mums and tots and tantrum busters, certainly a change in terminology. Their parents also have contact via the National Childbirth Trust. For older children, the boys’ and girls’ clubs have both disappeared over the past two decades and various youth clubs have come and gone although the situation at the end of the century is encouraging. Interest in scouts was reported to be on the wane after the war but by the mid-seventies there was again a healthy scout and cub membership, which along with beavers now numbers between 40 and 50.
Guides have had an even more roller-coaster time. The number of guides, brownies and rangers totalled about 70 in the post-war period, a number well-maintained 25 years later. By 1995 guide membership was insufficient to sustain an independent company, those remaining joining North Berwick. Brownies, however, have remained buoyant and with a waiting list. Their only restriction is the shortage of adult help and should this be forthcoming, there is even the possibility of Gullane guides returning.
On the sporting front the bowling clubs, catering for both men and women, in both villages are in a healthy state, no longer quite the preserve of the less young. The Dirleton club is notable for its use of the historic bowling green in the castle grounds. For a long time the badminton club in Gullane maintained some 20 to 30 members and although numbers are now under 20, it is still enjoyed. The tennis club was re-formed in 1976 by an enthusiastic group and at the end of the century continues all year round, weather permitting. But the football club and the senior squash club no longer function, and participation in men’s darts has been reduced from four teams to two and the ladies’ team which had been active from 1979, folded in 1999 with the end of the local darts league.
On a more positive side the swimming club was formed in 1972, and since then parents have ferried children weekly to pools at Portobello, Haddington and North Berwick. In 1977, the club had a membership of 180 and still had 90 members in 1999, despite the much-increased swimming instruction through schools. Newer ventures are the cricket club begun in 1997 and a walking group formed in 1985 and drawing members from the parish and beyond. Dance classes, of which there were two in 1977, no longer appear to be the ‘in’ thing in the 1990s, but Gullane has an aerobics class and regular yoga classes have been run since 1979.
In Dirleton, an outdoor group with a varied programme of outdoor activities first ran from 1971 until 1982 and was then restarted in 1996. It does try to encourage young people to participate but has found this to be difficult in recent years. Castlefield Archers, about 15 in number, use the indoor facilities at Fenton Barns and a field archery course on Chapelhill. In 1950, waning interest in the Women’s Rural Institute in Gullane was reported and also the recent formation of The Co-operative Women’s Guild. The latter no longer survives, but the SWRI did, with a membership of 107, around the time of its fiftieth anniversary 25 years later. At the end of the century that number is down to 20. The Dirleton branch was founded only in 1947, and in 1999 also has a membership of around 20.
Throughout the 1950s amateur dramatic clubs flourished with regular productions of both plays and pantomimes but it is quite some time since there have been any local drama or musical productions.
Other groups which came and went include a chess club, ladies’ social club and a Scottish country dancing group as well as the National Housewives’ Register (by then the National Women’s Register) which folded in 1994, having celebrated its 20th birthday only the year before. A survivor is the over-60s club, albeit with a much reduced membership and many participants in their 70s and 80s. Bridge has grown in popularity, from one club in the 1970s to three in 2000. Quiz nights are a recent innovation and these are held from time to time as fund-raisers.
The Gullane & Dirleton History Society genuinely involves both communities. It was inaugurated on 1 March 1995, following the amalgamation of the Gullane Local History Society, formed in 1985, and the Dirleton Local History Group, launched in 1982. A programme of illustrated talks alternates between the two villages. There has been an annual membership of well over 100 people throughout the 1990s. Members have been encouraged to undertake research projects, which add to knowledge of the history of the parish. Members of the societies have contributed to ten books published by the societies, two books published jointly with the former East Lothian District Council, and a number published by others. Its programme goes some way to plugging the gap left by the demise of the extra-mural lectures.