Humbie | Transport

The erstwhile Gifford and Garvald light railway (Hajducki, A. 1994 pp156-171) ran along the eastern edge of the parish, with two stations, Humbie and Saltoun, within the parish. Passenger services had been discontinued in 1933, and the line was terminated at Humbie following the destruction of the bridge over the Birns Water (the parish boundary) by the floods of August 1948. Both stations were considered viable in the early 1950s with traffic mainly in timber for the then flourishing East Lothian coal mining industry, coal imports to Humbie and in particular to Saltoun for the Glenkinchie distillery, and outgoing potatoes from Humbie and whisky from Saltoun.

By 1956 coal imports to Humbie had ended and potato traffic had been reduced since 1953 due to one of the largest growers of seed potatoes now owning two heavy lorries. Duncrahill farm continued to use the railway to move cattle and grain through Saltoun station up to the 1960s.

Humbie station closed on 2 May 1960, and in 1965 the closure of the coal mines around Ormiston made the whole line unviable and Saltoun station was closed. The track bed between the stations quickly became overgrown, and the viaduct over the Humbie Water was eventually demolished in May 1986 (East Lothian Courier 1986 May 9). The local authority established a Railway Walk northwards from Saltoun station and intended to continue it southwards towards Gifford, but by 2000 this had not materialised.

In 1945 the bus service to Edinburgh via Dalkeith was extended to the station from the war memorial in the ‘village’, but in the 1953 account the Rev Bain described (p256) road and rail services as ‘insufficient’, with a bus to Edinburgh four times daily, with a late journey on Wednesday and Saturday, and to Haddington only on Saturday and Sunday. The 1983 plan noted that in addition to a main service to Edinburgh from the former station, a twice-daily ‘shoppers’ bus ran to Haddington. However by 1989 the bus service had been reduced to five buses daily (not Sundays), to Dalkeith from the war memorial, and a rural service that ran only twice a week to Haddington.

By 2000 the services were further reduced, the Dalkeith (for Edinburgh) service now terminating at the village hall, and the Haddington service being provided by a post-bus. The services were still sparse, slow, inconvenient, and under utilised, but remained a vital link for the handful of users without alternative transport.