Prestonkirk | Transport

East Linton’s historical location as the lowest bridging point over the Tyne helped establish its pivotal role in the area in the earlier years, and it was not surprising that the 1846 railway line between Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed carved a path through the town (although why it did not have a route via Haddington is another story). The development of the bus service as a successor to the stagecoach gradually developed in the 1920s but the main transport system to Dunbar and Edinburgh is remembered by many to be the train until the local station closed in 1963 as a result of the Beeching review. Figures in the 1953 East Lothian Survey Report suggest lower use than some residents describe however, for example:

Season tickets 1947 20 1949 12
Other tickets 1947 5 1949 6

While there is still a bus service to North Berwick, the Dunbar – Edinburgh route is the main service, especially for those with a travel concession because of age. There have been attempts to improve on transport availability for people with severe mobility problems – such as taxi cards and adapted buses – but the provision of a transport service within the enlarged community is still ignored.

In the later 1990s, an active campaign group attempted to get a train service to and from East Linton restored. The plan of the main train operators to cut travel time between London and Edinburgh is likely to impede the provision of slower trains stopping at a new station, but there has also been some encouragement by Scotrail to the potential of a more local service between Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed, with a site identified for a new railway station.

One other controversial issue was the absence of access and exit provision with the long desired new dual carriageway between Haddington and Dunbar because of the plan for it to be in the form of an expressway. An action group launched a campaign to have access but there were also other views that were perhaps less vocal. The dispute led to the differences of opinion being aired in letters in the East Lothian Courier over a period of months. At the same time, there was increasing traffic congestion within the High Street and Square, especially on Saturday mornings or when agricultural vehicles and large lorries attempted to negotiate between parked cars. Access to the existing A1 from the new housing developments is via the High Street, adding even more to the congestion.

Meantime, the main transport provision is the motorcar, which is almost a necessity, especially in the parts of the parish area not close to the main bus routes or where increasing frailty affects mobility. Any prediction for the next 50 years will have to take account of the cost and decreasing availability of petrol as a fuel. Only one garage in East Linton now supplies petrol.

In addition, the condition of road maintenance became deplorable in recent years with regular incidents of damaged tyres and wheels from potholes within the parish (and beyond) and a problem of getting the council’s insurers to accept liability. Speed limits are rarely complied with but traffic-calming measures have been installed in the new Longstone housing area where there is family housing. While the era of local transport planning has been criticised, the absence of a clear local plan for such a key aspect of community living is an indicator of how remote government has become.

There are long established rights of way in the parish. They provide a wonderful potential for better publicity and marketing. Many of the views around the town were used by famous painters associated with the parish in the late 1800s. Again there are examples of hesitancy, even a negligence, to promote the environmental history other than by the East Linton Local History Society and a few enthusiasts. In 2001, the horticultural society took the initiative to market a Floral and Heritage Trail as an attraction to visitors while the local ranger guides published a leaflet on the walk to Hailes Castle.