North Berwick | Miscellany

Working with the Scottish Refugee Council, the town accommodated two separate groups of refugees. Bosnian refugees were accommodated at Chaylesmore Lodge (that had closed in May 1991) between 1993-95.

In 1999, a group of 59 Kosovan refugees (including 15 children) aged four weeks to 84 years were welcomed to the former Redcroft old people’s home.

In 1997, North Berwick was the first town in the county to have an Internet presence, and has a couple of dedicated web sites.

The Evans’ Trust

(Page references refer to McLeod 1995)

William Edgar Evans (1882-1963) was a botanist, naturalist and photographer. His father was a naturalist who was an expert on the flora and fauna of the Firth of Forth – including Canty Bay). In 1919, W. Edgar Evans was appointed to the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and worked there until his retirement in 1944. For many years a camping enthusiast, much involved in the scout movement, and from 1920 he was the scoutmaster for the new group associated with Charlotte Baptist Chapel, Edinburgh.

The link with Canty Bay, North Berwick began in 1921, when the scout group sought a venue for a summer camp. Permission to camp was given by owner William McNicol of Castleton Farm, in return for a donation to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The same year one of the cottages became vacant, and W. Edgar Evans rented it. In 1923, Sir Hew Hamilton Dalrymple began to sell off parts of his estate – including Lower Canty Bay and the New Hotel and stables; an offer of £850 was made and accepted. The properties were bought ‘for the use of the scouts’ (p27), although there were a few sitting tenants for a while afterwards – the last leaving in 1950.

W. Edgar Evans lived at Canty Bay from Easter until September, and renovation work continued until 1927. Scout summer camps were held at other venues as well as Canty Bay. In 1921 a cub group was set up, and they often used Canty Bay for weekend camps (p37) – two per annum maximum, as funds were limited. By the 1930s Canty Bay was ‘available to any scout or scouts who cared to use it on a self-catering basis and who kept to the rules’ (p47).

In September 1936 W. Edgar Evans set up the Evans Trust – that took over the Canty Bay properties and administered a capital sum to provide funds for the upkeep of the site.

‘The 6th Edinburgh Troop of Boy Scouts had the sole right to the use of Canty Bay for as long as they used it for the purpose laid down in the Deed of Trust. That purpose was to provide Christian Recreational Training for the Charlotte Chapel Scouts.

This included camp life, nature study, hand-work, gymnastics, physical training of the body, and the ordinary activities of a Boy Scout Group. Military type training is expressly forbidden. The ultimate object of the Trust should be to win the allegiance of the said boys and lads to the service of Jesus Christ and the consecration of themselves to Him as their personal Saviour and Lord.’ (p53)

In wartime naval personnel occupied Canty Bay. In November 1945, the property was de-requisioned and returned to Mr Evans. Damage was considerable and the compensation given rather small. In April 1946, the first post war camp was held there, and the same year, W. Edgar Evans’ retiral from the botanic garden meant he was there for much of the time (otherwise living in Edinburgh). Scouts recall that camps at Canty Bay in the 1950s included unauthorised exploits after lights-out like trips into North Berwick, and up the Law (p97).

In 1956 ill health meant that W. Edgar Evans withdrew somewhat from the Canty Bay activities, while maintaining his support. In March 1963 he died. In 1967, the gates made in his memory were unveiled at the entrance to lower Canty Bay (p128).

Jack Cairns took up the role of group scoutmaster. The role of chairman of the Evans Trust was taken over by Miss C.E. Evans; she died in 1970, and Jack Cairns then became chairman of the trust. In 1991, David Whitlie took over the role.

In 1958, use of Canty Bay was extended to a few groups with links to Charlotte Chapel (p138). By 1971, regular Christmas camps began at Canty Bay, and these – together with the regular summer and easter camps – continue to date. The continuing success of the Charlotte Baptist Chapel Scout Group during the extreme social changes of (particularly) the past 20 years is attributable in no small way to the role of Canty Bay.

Evans Trust Chairman (1991-date) David R Whitlie gives a personal reflection:

‘I was brought up as a boy in Edinburgh and attended Charlotte Baptist Chapel as our family church. My father was an elder at the church set just behind the west end of Princes Street. It was one of the largest churches of any denomination at that time with around 1000 attending each Sunday morning and evening. The Usher Hall was used for the evening service during periods. There was a thriving scout group at the church and at the age of eight, I joined the cub scouts, then moved onto scouts and then assistant scout leader.

A major part of the scout activity involved travelling to Canty Bay outside North Berwick, which had been purchased by Mr William Edgar Evans for scout use. The influence of camps at Canty Bay, of other leaders and of Mr Edgar Evans himself was profound.

Mr Evans had an incredible knowledge of plants, birds, bees, wasps, butterflies etc, and his knowledge and accounts were fascinating to a young lad. As a scout patrol leader and scout leader, I spent many days at Canty Bay, often with only one or two others, with Mr Evans in residence in the big house, and ourselves in the scout cottages. His influence was immense and stemmed from his strong Christian faith and convictions, and played a huge part in my own Christian commitment.

With the passage of time, those who knew Mr Evans personally, affectionately known as ‘Pa Evans’ are a dying breed and I at the age of 60 am one of a diminishing number who actually stayed at Canty and knew Mr Evans personally.

The Evans Trust is still very active, carrying out the remit laid down by the 1936 trust deed and still responsible for the upkeep of Canty Bay and its use’.


Sir Hew Hamilton Dalrymple Bt. GCVO became vice-lieutenant of the county in 1973 (having served as a deputy lieutenant from 1964). Sir Hew was appointed Lord-Lieutenant in 1987, serving until 9 April 2001. He remains a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen’s bodyguard in Scotland in which he holds the ancient court appointment of Gold Stick.

Catriona Lambert, a member of the North Berwick Ladies’ Golf Club won the British Ladies’ Amateur Championship in 1993. She also played in three Curtis Cup teams before turning professional in 1994.

Catriona Matthew now competes on the US LPGA (Ladies’ Professional Golf Association) tour and in 1998 made her debut in the European Solheim Cup team.

Dr James Smith Richardson LL D, HRSA, FRIA (Scot.), FSA Scot. was born in Edinburgh in 1883, the second son of Dr James Turnbull Richardson. His father had qualified as a medical doctor but coming from a wealthy family he never practised. He was able to follow his passion for photography both of family and of scenes abroad thus giving his children a wide education. These early photographs form the Richardson Collection and are in the care of the East Lothian Museum Service.

The family moved to North Berwick, and lived in Tantallon Terrace. James and his brother attended a private school following on to North Berwick High School. Being brought up in an academic environment, the young James had an early interest in architecture and archaeology. He trained to be an architect and became a part-time inspector of ancient monuments in Scotland, a position he held until 1948 with a break when he served in the Great War. On his return he became a full time inspector and was responsible for extensive surveying work throughout Scotland; he led many archaeological excavations both on the Scottish mainland and in the Orkney Islands. He wrote many guide books and, on his return to North Berwick, led many local ‘digs’. He became involved in local affairs and was described by Sir Hew Hamilton Dalrymple as ‘a thorn in the side of the council and on many occasions, a thorn in the side of many distinguished local people’.

In 1967, at the age of 84, for his public-spirited local work the council conferred on him the Freedom of the Burgh, making him North Berwick’s youngest Burgess! He fought long and hard for retention of the old burghs, ancient and time-honoured institutions dating from early mediaeval times. In 1957 the burgh museum was opened, largely due to his efforts and he became its first honorary curator. He wanted people to be aware of both natural and local history. He donated many of the items in the collection.

He was a well-liked man with a keen and sometimes wicked sense of humour, which can be seen in his sketches lampooning council members. He was the life and soul of the party at social events and in his great love for children he shared his sense of fun. His great nephew, David Richardson spent a lot of time with him in his formative years sharing their love for archaeology. David went on to study archaeology at university.

Affectionately known as ‘The Doctor’, he died on 12 September 1970 and, in May 1971, a plaque was unveiled in the museum by Sir Hew Hamilton Dalrymple in appreciation of ‘the love and care he lavished on this museum which was his idea and inspiration’. He loved North Berwick and was much loved by North Berwick .

Lord Stodart of Leaston (1916-2003) farmed the family farm at Kingston (1934-58), and later at Leaston, Humbie. The Conservative MP for Edinburgh West (1959-74), and author of Land of Abundance: Scottish Agriculture in the 20th Century (1962); president East Lothian Boy Scouts Association 1960-63, Lord Stodart chaired the Committee of Inquiry into Local Government in Scotland (the Stodart Report) Cmnd. 8115, 1981.

He was noted for his concern over the pelicans in St James’ Park; they had formed ‘an extremely appreciative audience’ when he had rehearsed his maiden speech there in 1959. He noted that the pelican numbers were down to one (Paul), and, as a consequence, raised the matter in the Lords. As a result, four were presented by the Amir of Bahhawalpur in Pakistan and others were acquired.

Donald J. Withrington, historian (1931-2003), was evacuated to the care of his North Berwick grandmother during the war. He was educated in the town, and thereafter identified with Scotland. With Ian R Grant, he was the general editor of the Statistical Account of Scotland, reprinted by county in 1975.


  • Father John Barry: Belief – the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea
  • Desmond Bathgate: Police
  • Norma Buckingham: Townscapes, Buildings, & Landscapes of Distinction; Homes; Leisure Services; Revisiting the Past – North Berwick Museum; Miscellany – Dr Richardson
  • Stephen Bunyan: Townscapes, Building, and Landscapes of Distinction – Balgone, Fenton Tower
  • Margaret Costa: Education
  • Robert Cowan: HM Coastguard
  • Anne Cowie: Shops & Services; Transport; Leisure
  • Lyle Crawford: Economy -Tourism
  • Bill Gardner: Economy -Tourism, the Scottish Seabird Centre
  • Rev Dr David J. Graham: Belief – Abbey Church
  • Norman Hall: Local Government
  • John Hunt: Environment – Lamb & Craigleith, Wildlife at Bonnington & Castleton Farms; Lifeboat; Leisure – boats, harbour and yacht club; Economy – Agriculture, interviews with Bill McNicol (Castleton) and Andrew Miller (Bonnington) – Fishing, boats & the harbour, from interviews with Leonard Groom, Jim Pearson, Fred Marr, Chris Marr, Ian Hutchinson and Ken MacLean
  • Rev Canon John Lindsay: Belief – St Adrian’s & St Baldred’s Church
  • Robert MacAdam Belief – Blackadder (to 1989) and St Andrew Blackadder (from 1989) Churches
  • Rev Dan McCaskill: Belief – Baptist Church
  • Hugh McMinn: Fire Service
  • Bill McNair: Economy -Tourism the growth of Gilsland
  • David Moody: General information
  • Dr Bryan Nelson: Environment – The Bass Rock
  • William Nisbet: Belief – North Berwick Christian Fellowship
  • Douglas C. Seaton: General information; Land Ownership – North Berwick Trust; Homes – Local Structure Plan; Utilities; Leisure – sports centre, town fete; Economy – Tourism interview with Mrs Skwaran (landlady), Industry – Golf
  • James Simpson: Belief – St Andrews Church
  • Dr Jean M. Walinck: Healthcare
  • David R. Whitlie: Miscellany – The Evans Trust

And the recollections of: Robert D. Burgon (primary school 1960-67); Margaret Costa (primary and secondary school 1945-58); Anne Cowan (primary school 1950s; growing up in the 1950s); Jacqueline Dillon (primary and secondary school 1955-68); Bernice Graham (primary and secondary school 1953-64); Robert Gray (pavilion concerts); Gillian Lindsay (secondary school 1988-94); Alastair McKay (growing up in the 1970s); Barbara Montgomery (primary and secondary school 1943-55); P.E. Rooney (primary school, 1940s); Muriel N. Shiel (secondary school 1939-45, primary teacher 1955-90,); Lynne Turnbull (homes & standards of living); James Walker (secondary school 1952-58); Jean Walinck (healthcare), and Anon (primary and high school, 1946-56).

Thanks are also due to the RSPB, and to the Ministry of Defence, Rosyth.