Dunbar | Transport

The road known for many years as the Dunbar bypass (1930s) was straightened at Broxmouth in 1949, and in the 1960/70 period with the demolition of Beltonford smiddy (1962), which originally was the Beltonford Inn. Three houses and a petrol station were also all removed and a roundabout (opened January 1967) constructed with a house for the smiddy owner Mr MacAdam. The new railway bridge at Beltonford was in place during summer 1972, and the road lowered and re-aligned by 1973. From June 1967, further road straightening ‘improvements’ were made from Thistley Cross to Eweford.

The bypass road is now classified as the A1. In January 1981, the section of the diverted A1 between Broxmouth and Dryburn (built by Blue Circle to permit access to the limestone reserves) was opened; it is known locally as the cement road. The section of dualled road between Oswald Dean and Spott junction was opened in December 1999. In March 2000, the go ahead for the Haddington/Thistley Cross expressway was confirmed (completion due end 2003) (see The Story of the A1 by Sonia Baker, county volume).

It is the considered opinion of many residents that roads suffered accelerating deterioration and slowing remediation as the twentieth century progressed. The use of cars for ordinary errands has been increased by the outward growth of the town; additionally, many residents feel a car is necessary to counter poor public transport (which has been a live issue throughout the past 50 years), and many rely on their cars for work. The phenomenal growth of the ‘school run’ from about the start of the 1980s has led to part of Lammermuir Crescent (near the primary school) being made ‘one way’ and the former girls’ playground at the grammar school is now extensively used for parking by staff and visitors. A one-way system was put in place at the southern end of the High Street in the 1970s.

In June 1995 the first phase of Dunbar’s High Street facelift was causing problems for traders. From the spring when preliminary work had commenced the traders had noticed a drop in turnover – and the main work was not scheduled to begin until the end of August. The main work was due to be undertaken by contractors Trafalgar House, but months of work by the utilities were necessary first. In the view of many, this project was not worth the disruption to business and utility while in progress and is not wearing well. By the end of the period, gaps in the cobbles had been filled not with replacement cobbles, but with tar.

The High Street improvements coincided with increased parking regulations, with regular traffic warden patrols. Car parking is a growing problem, despite the provision of car parks in Castle Park, Friar’s Croft and Countess Park; on the High Street safety is compromised as some drivers seem unable to reverse into the parking spaces, preferring to reverse out into the oncoming traffic.

In 2000, Perryman’s of Berwick-on-Tweed ran two hourly bus services from Berwick via Dunbar and Haddington to Edinburgh. There was also a regular hourly bus service to Edinburgh via Haddington, and a two hourly bus service to North Berwick. An hourly local service ran from West Barns village to the town and outer housing schemes. There were numerous taxis available at all times, from the taxi rank in the High Street. There was a free bus service to the Gyle shopping centre.

In the past, Starks had regular bus routes and their own livery although they shared some routes with Eastern Scottish. Eve Car and Coaches have begun to run regular routes (e.g., the 120 route, Dunbar – North Berwick).

Dunbar scored a first with the introduction of the Post Bus, as Evelyn Bradd explains

When you mention ‘postman’ the next word that springs to mind is ‘Pat’. Postman Pat the children’s TV character, he blissfully meanders through the idyllic countryside, a friendly face who’s always available to have a chat, rescue a sheep or two and even feed your granny’s cat, and all this before finishing his round – what a guy!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this sort of old-fashioned, community spirit has long gone. But perhaps not, in some parts of rural Scotland those distinctive red vans of all shapes and sizes, weave back and forth across the countryside creating the very fabric of the close-knit communities they serve. These communities have often been long forgotten by the public transport system as they’re not financially viable and to these communities the post bus service is a lifeline.

The idea is simple really – where there’s post, there’s people’. The idea first came about in the 1740s when people travelled up and down the countryside by stagecoach along with the mail. The arrival of the stream train changed all this, and for a while people and post travelled by rail. But by the late 1960s the rural railways were in rapid decline, and although the car was becoming more popular there were still many households who did not own a car and had no transport. So the original idea of transporting people and post had come full circle.

There were a few trial runs up and down the countryside and by 1968 the first post bus left Dunbar post office bound for the small village of Innerwick. And now 34 years later there are more than 140 routes, travelling 2.8 million miles and carrying 80,000 passengers a year, from the rolling hills of the Borders to the rugged beauty of the Highlands. But these figures are irrelevant to the people who depend on these vans and, more importantly, their real life “Postman Pat” drivers. They offer tourists the advice and help not supplied in the brochure, an extra hand to the pensioner who needs a little help in collecting her pension and a lifeline to people who simply don’t drive!

Let’s hope that this service does not disappear quicker than you can say ‘privatisation’.

Dunbar has had a railway station throughout the period, and is on the main London/Edinburgh line, providing the only means of access to this route in the county. However, changes in the past two decades have meant that the town does not now have the dedicated service it opened the period with, but various ‘stopping’ trains collect and drop passengers at Dunbar. In 1996, the 150th anniversary was celebrated. From 1998, calls were being made for a return to a better service for Dunbar; the expansion of the town placed the station, and the parking provision, under increasing pressure.

Rights of way in the parish were mapped (April 1994) and public access to many places has been improved (J.M.C.P. and through Lochend Estate). The most recent dispute over access appeared when Belhaven Caravan Park was opened (July 1995) and questions arose over the limits of their property and routes that had been habitually used by walkers since the closure of the municipal dump some 30 years before.