In a parish such as Inveresk there is an enormous range of leisure activities both available and practised. There follow just a few examples, firstly for Inveresk Village, then Wallyford and finally Whitecraig.
The Riding of the Marches (see Inveresk – Musselburgh) takes place around the burgh of Musselburgh every 21 years (the most recent being 1995) and turf-cutting stations are marked on granite slabs around the Village.
Every second year a large number of gardens here are opened to the public as part of the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme. The village has some outstanding gardeners and gardens but perhaps the most noteworthy are Shepherd House and Oak Lodge.
Musselburgh allotments, founded in 1917 – the only allotments in East Lothian – moved to their present site adjacent to Lewisvale Park cricket pitch, Inveresk Village, in 1968. The ground, which had been used to grow potatoes during world war two, belongs to East Lothian Council. The original site provided 24 plots, approximately 10×20 metres each. It was extended in 1994 and again in 1999 to provide an additional 17 half plots, taking land vacated by East Lothian Council nursery gardens, which moved to Prestonpans. There are currently 28 people on the waiting list for plots and there is an urgent need for further allotment ground in the county.
The Inveresk Preservation Society was formed in 1957 to prevent the threatened demolition of cottages in Inveresk Village road for what was rumoured to be a petrol station. The cottages were saved by the society, which purchased and then sold them with conditions for their preservation.
The society’s founder and first secretary was George Burnet. The first chairman was Dr John Bartholomew and its first honorary president was the Right Hon. The Lady Elphinstone.
The stated objects of the society in its first constitution were
To preserve the architectural character and atmosphere of the Village of Inveresk and
To improve and maintain the amenity thereof.
In 1967, largely as a result of the society’s efforts, Inveresk Village, then part of Midlothian, was designated as an outstanding conservation area, the first of its kind in Midlothian, and the second in the whole of Scotland.
Over the years the society continued to oppose inappropriate, and to support sympathetic, development within the Village and made informed objections and representations to the old Midlothian County Council, Musselburgh District Council, Lothian Regional Council, East Lothian District Council, and the present East Lothian Council.
The society was instrumental in bringing about: modification to proposed road alterations, including rebuilding of the Inveresk Lodge garden wall; the provision of elegant metal, instead of ugly concrete, lamp posts in the Village centre; the prevention of proposed opencast and mining nearby at How Mire; modification to proposed housing in Crookston Road and in the gardens of Inveresk Gate and Wedderburn House; and the removal of a partially completed mobile phone mast in Crookston Road.
Jane Burnet produced a fascinating book A Reason for Inveresk, published in 1999, and supported her husband in his work for the Village. George Burnet, having been secretary of the society with Dr John Bartholomew as chairman, and then Colin Fraser Q.C., became chairman himself and then honorary president. He was succeeded as chairman by John McIntyre, who in turn was succeeded by Neil Butterworth, George Grams and Stephen Edwards.
The society, later renamed the Inveresk Village Society and with a new constitution similar to the original, is flourishing with an increasingly wide membership throughout the Village.
Also, it is working jointly with East Lothian Council to produce a conservation plan for the Village.
Stephen J. Edwards
The Inveresk Village sewing group – the Monday group – started in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Several of the women of the village and their daughters and one granddaughter made a red white and blue quilt, which is now in Holyrood Palace. Since those days the group meets once a week in the sewing room of the Manor House. The present objective is to raise funds, through their sewing, for the Children’s Hospice. In 2000 the group made a patchwork hanging using 2000 pieces of silk, which was sold and raised £2,000 and is now hanging in Adam & Co. bank offices in Charlotte Square. The group have also made a wall hanging for the outpatients’ waiting room at Edenhall hospital.
The latest project for the group is to make overshoes for Newhailes House to protect the newly restored floors from the tread of many visitors.
Over the years there have been a number of halls and meeting places in Wallyford available to residents. The tin hut, next to the old Coal Board offices, was used by the Boys’ Club, the boxing club and for pipe band practice – in the days when Wallyford had a pipe band.
The church hall was an ex-army hut that was purchased in 1949 by the Churchwoman’s Guild and the Wallyford Recreation Club. A new hall was built in the 1960s, next to the church. The church ran a number of associated clubs, as well as a Sunday school and youth fellowship, and put on concerts and drama.
The unlicensed Wallyford Miners’ Institute was sited opposite the Oratory, as were its tennis courts, on what is now Miners’ Terrace; the Institute was demolished in the 1990s. Tea dances were held every month and the money raised was given to charity; the bowling and charity club was owned by the Coal Industry Social and Welfare Organisation (CISWO), as was the miners’ holiday home in Gullane.
The Wallyford Miners’ Welfare is located along from the Oratory. Built in the 1970s from subscriptions from miners’ wages (only Wallyford residents could join), it had a bowling green and many other facilities for young and old. It was for many years the centre of Wallyford life and was a favourite place for wedding receptions. It was used as a soup kitchen during the 1984/5 miners’ strike.
The community centre at Wallyford is at the rear of the school; it was upgraded and reopened in April 1987.
Wallyford Gala Day takes place on the first Saturday in June, as has been the custom for many years. The venue is the park to the rear of the Miners’ Club.
More informal leisure time could be spent at the recreation ground near the railway station, and on the rehabilitated former colliery spoil tip south of the village, which in the 1950s was a popular venue for the illegal ‘tossing’ school.
Wallyford has supported a range of sports, including greyhounds (see Economy). The local football team – Wallyford Bluebells – played on a site to the rear of the greyhound stadium; the Wallyford Miners’ Golf section continues to be active, in spite of the mining having gone. Wallyford is in division 2 of the Esk Bowling League and in the 1950s speedway was very popular on the running track to the rear of the old Forthview houses.
For most of the period the greyhound track at Wallyford served the area as both a leisure activity and as a contributor to the local economy. Run by the Wallyford Greyhound Company Ltd, during the 1950s and 1960s ‘…several times a week hundreds flock to the park at Wallyford’ (Stiven, D. in Kirkland p126). At meetings in June and July 1950, 2000 spectators were anticipated and authorisation for the provision of betting facilities sought. By 1952, it seems that race nights were on Mondays and Fridays.
In June 1990 it was announced that Scarlett Park was to close, with plans proposed to build housing. This went ahead by the mid 1990s with the dog track closing in April 1996, after 60 years. By the end of the 1990s, the greyhound track had gone, replaced by the new Drummohr nursing home and houses.
In March 1998 a proposal was put forward for a multi-purpose stadium and associated car parking on 4ha at Barbachlaw; the council was happy to delete some of the green belt for this to be accepted. To date, archaeological investigations on the site appear to have delayed progress.
In April 1954 a new community centre was opened in Whitecraig (Musselburgh News 1954 April 10); this was to be the first of five large centres planned for Scotland, by CISWO in conjunction with the local authority and the Home Office. In November 1955 there was an application for a bowling green and pavilion on the site and football pitches, a putting green, swings and a park were also mentioned ‘The council also hope to build a hut for the old folk’ (Musselburgh News 1955 November 23). In April 1987, it was announced that Whitecraig community centre was to be upgraded and re-opened.
The former Miners’ Institute had gone by the 1990s and the site was redeveloped for housing. In 2000 there was a bowling club, the Young at Heart group, and a parent and toddler group.
The Whitecraig gala, funded by CISWO, was first held on 3 August 1963, with John Glen and Susan Weir as King and Queen; in 2000 it was still going strong.