Humbie | Miscellany

In conclusion, significant changes in the fabric of Humbie life since the 1950s have been due to the changes in the occupations of the residents and in land use, and the traffic generated thereby. From the 1970s, agricultural traffic increased significantly, in part due to the increased centralisation of farms and the move to intensive cash cropping, requiring movement of tractors, machinery and agricultural chemicals and harvested crops between distant fields and central depots, and the export of these crops. In addition there is a substantial heavy traffic of grain to Ormiston and Pencaitland, and to and from the sawmilling businesses at Windymains and Petersmuir.

During the period, the size and weight of vehicles permitted to use public roads has increased, in part to comply with European regulations. The roads of the parish, with the exception of parts of the main east/west road through the village, were in 2000 structurally inadequate for the traffic wishing, and entitled, to use them. In addition, the inadequate width of the roads had led to the destruction of verges and road drainage systems by passing vehicles, leading to further deterioration of the road pavement edges.

With the increase of commuting to, in particular, Edinburgh, and the availability of second cars in many households, there was from about 1970 an increasing amount of relatively high speed through traffic on many roads. As the only roadside pavements exist within the village itself, the combination of cars and motorcycles, farm traffic, and heavy lorries made walking, pram pushing, dog exercising, cycling and horse riding particularly hazardous in some areas.

The influx of affluent non-agricultural households has, in general produced few strains in the community, where incomers have been welcomed for their diverse talents and enthusiasm. However, in common with other parts of Scotland, some landowners and farmers have found it increasingly difficult to accommodate the aspirations of the non-agricultural for ‘rights of access’ for themselves, their dogs, their horses, their mountain bicycles, and their off-road vehicles!

Farmers may not in the future be willing or financially able to continue their socially responsible attitude to the ‘stewardship of the countryside’, and in particular to maintain the attractive hedges and hedgerow trees that are a major feature of the local environment, but which are no longer required to enclose stock and which do not in themselves generate an income.

In the past, fund-raising for village projects (such as the new hall, and the church organ) brought the community together for a common purpose. Latterly, the availability of, albeit limited, funds from grants and through the community council, had reduced the need for such activities, and the availability of ‘the wind-farm money’ may prove less than wholly beneficial.

In the 1953 account the Rev Bain considered (p255) that the almost entirely agriculture-based, and locally mobile, working population had little allegiance to the parish. At the end of the century the population was of a similar size but was largely non-agriculture-based, from a more diverse background, and was much more widely mobile.

The assets of the village – the church, the post office/shop, the bus service, the village hall, and the school – were much as they were in the 1950s; their continued existence was still largely taken for granted, and they continued to be insufficiently supported to be viable on a long-term basis. There was a serious possibility that some or all of these assets might disappear in the foreseeable future. However, a strong mutually-supportive spirit existed in many of the old-established and more recently arrived residents, which gave confidence for the future of the community.