Inveresk | Population

By Inveresk parish, from the General Registrar’s office By locality – census – ie Whitecraig village itself
(data not available for Wallyford)
1931 20700
1951 21493
1961 22152 10709M 11443F
1971 21489 10454M 11035F 1137 584M 553F
1981 20771 9829M 10942F 1310 658M 652F
By Small Area Statistics – census
1991 22243 10452M 11791F 1314 648M 666F (Whitecraig)
1991 2143 1039M 1104F (Wallyford)
2001 23991 11260M 12731F NO DATA
By Inveresk Parish, from ELDC By settlement, from ELDC
1991 21645 1209 W’craig 2205 W’ford
1997 (est.) 23798 11385M 12417F 1287 W’craig 2170 W’ford
2001 NO DATA 1278 (Whitecraig) (ELC)

Population figures are difficult to compare, as no two sources extract data in the same way.

After the war some dozen or so Poles and Ukrainians moved to Wallyford; they integrated well with the local people with many working in the mines, and in the fields, gathering potatoes and helping with harvest. These settlers were a mix of ex-Polish Air Force and ex-prisoners of war – who had been conscripted into the German army. Some members of the American air force based at Tranent married local girls.

In the 1950s, men came from the west coast (Glasgow) to work in the mines. They were referred to as ‘Westies‘ and settled in the parish.

When it was announced in July 1988 that the East Lothian and Midlothian district planning committees had agreed to the joint purchase of land at the former Dalkeith colliery – known to locals as ‘Smeaton pit’ – to be used as a site for travelling people, a 500-strong petition was raised by Wallyford and Whitecraig residents. The site was given the go ahead in May 1989, although it did not open until October 1994. There are 20 individual pitches, and there are four/five families who live there on a semi-permanent basis; their tenancies permit travel away from this site for up to five months of every year. As one of 35 sites in Scotland Smeaton is generally full; many travellers make use of it as a temporary home.

Gypsy travellers within East Lothian

Since April 1994 I have been the Travelling Persons Officer for both councils of East Lothian and Midlothian. Under the Scottish Office Advisory Board directives, both councils were instructed to provide a permanent site for gypsy travelling families – each council to build ten pitches. East and Mid Lothian made the decision to build our present site at old Dalkeith colliery on the former Smeaton pit washhouse. The site provides 20 places. An Advisory Boards grant paid for the construction in full.

The site opened for its first tenants in the October 1994. The first 20 tenant families were selected from an extensive waiting list of prospective tenants. The level of families who were moving on to the site were [sic] definitely the higher class of traveller. Most of them were driving Mercedes cars and had the best of caravans. Living on the site as I do in a holiday bungalow I felt like the poor relation.

My former experiences with gypsy travellers had been as manager of a 26-pitch site in Newcastle. From the start it was obvious that our site was going to be a success. The main management issues in the beginning revolved around producing procedures and policies for such matters as rent payment, allocations and retainer periods; it had been decided from the start to allow the families to retain their place on the site for up to 16 weeks when they were off travelling following their nomadic lifestyle.

The families who have lived on the site have made good use of all the local amenities – shops, medical and the local schools. On the whole the expected levels of “sheep stealing and robberies” have just not happened as was mooted at many of the public meetings held when the site was first proposed. The level of tenancy on the site has always, since day one, been good and any empty bays that become vacant are soon snapped up.

It is still hard to believe that many of the employees who work both for East & Mid Lothian councils have no idea that the travelling peoples’ site even exists. This I hope will change over time.

Keith (Dusty) Miller

Wallyford suffered the greatest degree of deprivation of all the towns in the county; this situation was probably not helped during the East Lothian District Council period – 1975-96 – when single-parent families were placed in Wallyford, leading to a degree of ‘population distortion’ (East Lothian Health Council (nd) Growing old in East Lothian). The relocation of Edinburgh’s public housing evictees to the town during the same period did little to stabilise the population. Even at the end of the period older people in this area were suffering from rural isolation; the Wallyford & Whitecraig Young at Heart Group was working to address this.

Between 1981 and 1994 Wallyford’s population fell by 9.4% – the largest population decline in the county ( p9). In 1981 10.2% (248) of the Wallyford population was aged over 65; 2.9% (70) were over 75.

Whitecraig residents too suffered over the period. In 1981 13.8% (180) of the Whitecraig population was 65+, and 4.6% (60) were over 75. In 1991 only 53% of households here had access to a car – one of the lowest levels in the county. The key factor here was the closure of the mines, with the result that the working-age male population moved south in search of work.