An ex-first world war hut, which came from East Fortune airfield in 1919/20, was used as the village hall until about 1970. Sited on the corner of the High Road and St John’s Street, it continued to be used occasionally until the 1980s when it was demolished.
The school, after closing in 1969, became the Spott Community Centre and is still used. A committee had run the hut; c1969, the Spott Community Association was formed, and it was this organisation that ran the centre from then on; their meetings were held in the hall and from the early 1980s the hall was used as the polling station. In 1999, the hall was refurbished, the cost being funded by grants and by money raised within the community.
The main activities to be carried out in both premises have been indoor bowling, a sport which included boys from the age of seven and which most attended twice a week; whist drives (including some organised by Mrs Scambler in war time ‘to raise money for the soldiers’); darts and dominoes; concerts; Church of Scotland Woman’s Guild meetings (until its disbandment in 1992, because of falling membership numbers); children’s Christmas parties and, in inclement weather, summer fetes. The village hall has been used occasionally for hymn singing and gatherings of the church community. A branch of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute (established 1922, re-established in 1946) continues to thrive in Spott and it meets regularly in the village hall. The group celebrated its 75th birthday in 1996; at the end of 2000 there are some 13 members.
Throughout the period, most popular events of all were the village dances attended by people from the surrounding areas. By 2000, dances are still held, but only three or four times a year. On two days in December 2001, some 250+ people visited an exhibition in the hall where the material on Spott gathered for this statistical account was on show.
The Youth Club, 1965-77
In 1965, Innerwick and Spott youth clubs were merged together with the purpose that the young people of each parish could get together to know each other better. The club met alternately in Spott hut and Innerwick hall. Due to a shortage of funds in 1967, the now very successful and well-attended youth club found itself unable to make the required advance payment for the hire of the halls for the forthcoming session. At a meeting in the Manse at Innerwick, called by the Rev Duncan Turner, various suggestions were put forward for ways to raise the necessary funds. It was decided that a show would be put on for this purpose.
Within a short time various talents among members began to emerge, with singing, dancing, sketches, music and monologues being enthusiastically rehearsed for the planned show. An improvised stage (tabletops on top of straw bales) was set up in Spott hut. Rehearsals took place over several weeks and finally the show was ready to roll. The first performance proved to be a huge success with enough money being raised for club funds at this first performance. Requests came for another show to be put on. The second show, again at Spott hut, had better stage arrangements with curtains and lighting. The show was performed on two nights with tickets being sold out in advance for both shows.
The popularity of the youth club shows was such that they were invited to perform at various venues throughout Berwickshire and East Lothian. The shows continued until 1971; funds raised from the shows were donated to various charities.
Summer activities for the club included long walks on the countryside, talks by invited speakers and debating evenings and pony trekking expeditions in the Lammermuir Hills. Dances were held in the winter months to 1960’s records. The Reverend Turner always looked for potential for development amongst club members and encouraged everyone to take an active and creative role in all activities. The youth club continued until Mr Turner retired in 1977. His retiral resulted in the parish being split and the successful union between two hillfoot villages came to an end.
From the late 1960s through to the last one held in 1986, Spott hall was used for army cadet camps. There was also a weight-lifting and boxing club, and it was the venue for an art group.
In the 1990s fewer people took part in community activities within the village. More people
spent leisure time outwith the parish as most households had a car and the community activities held in the village hall depended more and more on support from people living outside the parish. Although use of the hall declined, in recent years as well as a venue for the SWRI, the village association has run Burns’ Suppers, dances and games nights.
The nature and habits of the Spott community have altered radically and increasingly rapidly since the 1950s. However, there remains a feeling of community identity, which has recently been strengthened by the re-invigorated efforts of the Spott Community Association, now centred on the village hall.
Graeme Cockburn describes the sociability of Spott in the past
Between 1945-1959, most people gardened, growing their own vegetables and fruit and flowers, both for their own consumption and for exhibiting at annual flower shows. Women attended the Woman’s Guild and SWRI meetings – those from surrounding farms walked together to these, in all weathers. Most people attended church services in the village and many participated in the various community activities in the village hall. People walked or cycled from surrounding farms to village dances. They listened to the radio. Before legislation, horse racing bets were taken to a backstreet ‘shop’ in Dunbar to be passed on to a bus driver to be taken into Edinburgh!
Youngsters played football on the glebe, in the village or any other open space they could find around the farm on which they lived – there was a football pitch created in Oswald’s Dean (known as Ozzie Dean or the Glen). There were plenty of children in the village or on each farm and they played together, mostly outside. Farm workers would get together outside their cottages to play darts or just socialise. Also, most farms had at least one musician and so workers from neighbouring farms met in someone’s house to play music – accordion, fiddle etc. and some played in Scottish dance bands for functions in and outwith the parish. There was fishing in Spott Burn or Spott Lake and a certain amount of poaching! Farm workers were taken by bus for a day out to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh and would often attend the local agricultural shows. In the 1950s and ‘60s there were bus trips arranged in the spring and summer and people saved up to join the outing to the pantomime in Edinburgh, one of the highlights of the year. To celebrate the Coronation in 1952, a Grand Sports Event was held in the Glebe.
By the 1960s, many people had televisions. In 1970, parish residents plus members of the Sealed Knot Society took part in the re-enactment of the Battle of Dunbar. To celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 a beacon on Doon Hill was lit and then people gathered together in the village hall – the weather was terrible, very wet and windy!
From the 1970s more and more people had their own transport and were spending their leisure time away from the parish. The last major event to be held in the parish was a grand Summer Gala, which was held in May 1999 in a marquee in the grounds of Bourhouse (courtesy of Mr and Mrs Marrian). A trio of musicians entertained while guests were served with drinks on arrival and then a buffet dinner. A local Scottish dance band (Graeme Cockburn’s Band) played for the dance which followed the meal. This was a very successful event organised by Spott Community Association as the last in a series of fundraising events to help pay for the refurbishment of the village hall.
Spott parish has a long history of musicians who played together as a band at dances and parties and some who played for their own enjoyment. They came from all over the parish; the years they played are in brackets, and they are grouped together if they played together.
- Bob Cockburn (1945-70) fiddle, Spott and Charlie Pearson (1945-60) accordion, Spott farm.
- John Cockburn (1945-70) accordion, Easter Broomhouse and Robert Cockburn, Scottish Junior Champion (1945-55) fiddle/accordion, Pathhead farm and Dave Cockburn senior (1945-55) drummer, Pathhead farm.
- Tommy Wilson (1945-75) accordion, Easter Broomhouse and William Turnbull (1945-80) melodian, Easter Broomhouse.
- Constance Lawrie (1965-85) piano, Spott House.
- Joanna Cockburn (1985-2000) piano, Easter Broomhouse.
- Struan Robertson (1965-75) jazz piano, Wester Broomhouse.
- Willie Ness senior (1945-55) fiddle, Spott Square and Willie Ness junior (1945-55) fiddle, Spott Square and Jimmy Ness (1945-55) drummer, Spott Square.
- Dennis Hutson (1980-95) fiddle/double bass, Halls and Ian Hutson (1980-90) accordion, Halls.
- Graeme Cockburn (1955-2000) drummer and singer: bandleader for 30 years, first with the Hutsons then with Alan Cockburn. Graeme still plays but no longer professional.
- Alan Cockburn (1945-60) button key accordion/band leader, Easter Broomhouse and David Cockburn, who won five world cups, (1955-75) five-row accordion, Easter Broomhouse.
- James Miller (1935-40) melodian, Spott Square.
- Christopher Sands (1957-89) accordion, Spott.