Obviously there was considerable investment in Longniddry in the 1960s and 1970s by the big building firms Wimpey and Cruden and, to a lesser extent, since then by smaller firms. Rumour has it that at least one local landowner has received payment from a major building firm to secure the option of buying the land should planning restrictions ever be lifted.
It is probably true to say that since the war Longniddry has probably been influenced more by trends in British society rather than events. The closing of railway lines, the enormous growth in car ownership, the decline in the importance of agriculture, the explosive growth of private building, the decline of organised religion, the universality of television, tabloid newspapers, sexual libertarianism, Thatcherism and ‘market values’, the information technology revolution – all these and much more have profoundly affected the country at large, and since Longniddry is probably as good an example of ‘Middle Scotland’ as can be found anywhere, it is hardy surprising that such trends should also have made their mark here. Longniddry at the beginning of the 21st century is a vastly different place in many ways from Longniddry in the middle of the 20th century; but trends, not events, have driven the changes.
Longniddry Parish Church holds an annual art exhibition in the community centre, where works by local amateur artists are sold to raise money for Christian Aid. Judging by the number of exhibits each year, there is no shortage of amateur artists in the village. There are of course many residents who dabble in the arts or crafts as a pastime or hobby. Apart from them, Morris Lee, a retired art and guidance teacher, holds occasional exhibitions and has no difficulty in selling his pictures.
The public library has occasional exhibitions by art groups and individuals. There are no works of art on public display, nor in any of Longniddry’s public buildings, apart from a watercolour of the school in the school foyer by W. Mercer. The church has a prominently placed stained glass window, designed in 1945 by W. Paterson of Edinburgh, depicting the archangel Michael and commemorating the contribution of the RAF to victory in the second world war. There is also a stained glass Millennium window in the church hall, designed by Longniddry native Kate Kennedy and based on drawings by pupils of Longniddry Primary School.
Michael Turnbull is a Longniddry writer with several publications to his credit; he has contributed material on the Roman Catholic church to the county volume of the statistical account.
Longniddry does not boast a long list of high achievers in the expressive arts. The present writer has previously described it as ‘the kind of community that produces many managers and precious few poets’ (Robertson, D. M. (1993) Longniddry p61). Moray Welsh (1947-) is perhaps one exception; one of the sons of Longniddry’s longtime chemist Douglas Welsh, Moray is joint principal cellist with the London Symphony Orchestra (1992-date). He is a regular soloist and chamber musician, performing all over the world; he has made a lot of recordings and gained many accolades.
There is no doubt that the outstanding figure in local politics in Longniddry in the last three decades of the 20th century was Bob Cunningham. He was a county councillor, then chairman of the community council; he was also chairman of the Gala Committee, chairman of the British Legion, chairman of East Lothian Association for the Mentally Handicapped, a kirk elder for a time and, before his retirement, convener of the Works Committee at Cockenzie Power Station. As a county councillor and community councillor, his priority was not what was politically expedient but what he felt was for the good of the village. In 1995 he was awarded the MBE for his services to the community.
THIS ACCOUNT OF LONGNIDDRY WAS WRITTEN & RESEARCHED BY DAVID M ROBERTSON. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, RESEARCH AND ESSAYS WERE PROVIDED BY THE FOLLOWING:
George Millar Belief – Longniddry Parish Church
Thanks are also due to the following interviewees (all interviews conducted and transcribed by David Robertson)
- Danny Gillan (LN tape 3, 16 July 2001); rugby, music
- Morris Glen (LN tape 4, 20 August 2001); Longniddry in the 1940s, the railway, music
- Alan Hay (LN tape 8, 2001); stick-makers
- Archie Mathieson (LN tape 1, 11 June 2001); wildlife
- Gordon Morrison (LN tape 2, 18 June 2001); farming and life on the farm to the 1960s
- Albert Ogg (LN tape 7, 3 September 2001); Longniddry railway station to the 1950s
- Bob Porteous (LN tape 7, 3 September 2001); Longniddry railway station to the 1950s
- Mrs J Robertson, nee Ima McDonald (LN tape 5, 2001); domestic life in the 1940s and 1950s
- Anon (LN tape 6, 27 August 2001); domestic life during the 1940s and 1950s