Prestonkirk | Leisure

The tradition of self-help leisure and entertainment activity referred to in the third account has continued despite the impact of the television era from the 1950s, although some interests have changed. Occasional concerts, music and quiz events in the licensed premises, the annual Gala Day with the Gala Queen and her court have all survived the period. Raising money for Cancer Care and the Hospice Movement has prompted the running of a range of public entertainment events in the past 30 years with occasional ‘Garden Open’ days for the National Garden Scheme of Scotland since that scheme was established in 1931.

Bowling green, East Linton

Bowling green, East Linton

The former local Traders’ Association took a number of imaginative initiatives in the 1960s and one of its most successful projects was the Annual Art Show, where artists were able to exhibit and also sell their paintings. The community hall provided a suitable venue for many of these activities and Lintonians held a noted event in 1967 when nearly 200 attended ‘A Linton Gathering’. It will be difficult to repeat that event as the new improved hall has a restriction in capacity to 150 in its main hall because of parking limitations. In 1972, the special venue of Preston Mill was used for a Son et Lumiere; it was so successful that it was repeated in 1979. A fuller account of activities in past years at the community hall is given in the publication At The Heart of the Community.

Until 1975, the ‘youth service’ was mainly provided by the uniformed organisations with active scouts and girl guides groups. After that date, the new Regional Council Education Service had a strong community education section with community workers deployed across Lothian region; East Linton though, was to remain on the fringes, with local leadership running club activities in the community hall.

Physical activity through football, golf, bowling, curling, badminton and tennis have all featured in the period and some of the history of these clubs is recorded in By the Linn Rocks. Outdoor sports are helped with the provision of 4.24 hectares of recreational open space, which is easily accessible to the majority of the residents. In bowling, an East Linton team of David Currie, Ian Butler, John Scott and Heb Milligan won the Scottish Fours in 1979 and the British Isles’ Fours Championship the following year. Not to be out done, Janet Milligan represented Scotland in 1985 and 1986 in the Home International series. A modern bowling club with kitchen, bar and lockers mainly provided by self-help and fund-raising is much admired.

Sadly, the Curling Club did not make its mark in the last Grand Match at the Lake of Menteith in February 1979. The club had decided it was not worth paying the entry fee at the start of the season as the cold conditions essential for a Grand Match had not happened for a long time, and it was not therefore eligible to participate! In the third account, it is reported that the club was instituted in 1538! The correct date was 1837 and East Linton was a founder member of the Grand Caledonian Curling Club in 1838. Unfortunately, the club closed in 1952 and although it was reconstituted in 1968, it does not qualify for the 150 years’ continuous membership medal now granted to many other East Lothian clubs, awarded by the new governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. Representatives of the club took part in a special millennium competition in 2000 when every ice rink in Scotland was brought into use for the occasion.

While not having a rugby club, a rare coincidence for a parish of its size happened in 1983 when the hookers for the Scottish Schools under-16 and under-18 rugby teams, Grant McKelvie and Gordon Affleck, were both East Linton residents. Supporters of the round ball have an even longer tradition to be proud of as the fuller account in By The Linn Rocks shows, and the football pitch still attracts an enthusiastic following despite the national trend of professionalism. Many of these activities have played an important role in breaking down the barriers between Lintonians and incomers.

The southern face of Traprain Law attracts rock-climbers; there are often a number of cars and mini-buses parked along the Standingstane road.

Apart from sport, most of the group activities for adults have been linked to another organisation such as the SWRI, the Scottish Pensioners’ Association, the British Legion Women’s section and church groups such as the Guild and a former Men’s Fellowship. One successful venture for this last organisation was to hold an annual Burns supper for over a decade in the 1980s, with the men of the committee making the three-course supper and serving it to those attending.

Perhaps the oldest activity association is the Horticultural Society founded in 1859. Annual shows had been held since the war, although the format had changed after the traditional estate gardener became an endangered species. The last outstanding gardener of that era to show his produce was probably Alex Fairgrieve, who won the old-style competition for most points, and thus the Kingsburgh Cup from 1957-1975. A video record of the 1999 show was filmed and included the competition to bring colour to East Linton in the form of window boxes and hanging baskets in the Square. In 2000, a special show was held in a marquee in the park while the community hall was being renovated. The society’s objectives include the promotion of interest in horticulture and in recent years, it has organised a campaign to Bring Colour to East Linton and to give more emphasis on the floral appearance of the community. This shift in emphasis is partly a response to the move away from traditional domestic horticulture and the growing of vegetables and flowers for exhibition. Many gardens are now planned for relaxation and easy care.

There is no doubt that while voluntary activity remains strong, getting volunteers to manage organisations is difficult and increasingly demands computer skills, e-mail facilities and training for committee responsibilities. Office bearers need to be alert to health and safety obligations and the possibility of claims seeking compensation for negligence or injury.

In 2000, renovation and expansion of the former drill hall was completed with financial help from the Millennium Commission to provide a more appropriate community centre, although unlike those that are council-owned in East Lothian, the burden of meeting the revenue costs lies mainly with the management committee. While there had been adult community education programmes offered at the primary school on a small scale, the new community hall offered a fresh look at adult community activity and the potential for financially supported adult education classes, where these are seen to be viable. A well-attended art club now meets there and is an example of what could be possible.

Modern life offers a very different range of activities for leisure time. The more anonymous Edinburgh social life and its accessibility offers outlets not recorded in previous statistical accounts. People look outwith their locality for entertainment, and many have both the money and the opportunity to pursue their interests beyond the parish.