Spott | Population

By parish, from the General Registrar’s office
1931 325 157M 168F
1951 280 154M 126F
1961 226 122M 104F
1971 153 84M 69F
1981 156 82M 74F
1991 208 103M 105F
2001 179 88M 91F
By parish, from ELDC
1991 104
1997 (est.) 156 79M 77F

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

There was no census in 1941 but in 1931 there were 325 residents in the parish. By 1951 there were 280; of these, around 100 were employed full time on the farms in the north of the parish. There was also associated employment with smiths and sawmill and mill workers. On the farms there were grieves, ploughmen, orramen, shepherds and cattlemen – some of whom were women.

With the introduction of tractors and gradually machines to carry out every job in sowing and harvesting, the number of employees decreased. Mostly this was a matter of not replacing workers as they retired or moved on. People moved into towns and found work there. In 1958 and again in 1962, the Broomhouse farms paid people off. In 1999, Spott farms made their last five workers redundant.

During the following three decades, the population continued to fall. The proportion of males to females stayed fairly even. In 1969 the school closed, as there were insufficient children to warrant its continuation. New house building and renovation in the village and the sale of empty farm cottages led to a slight increase in the 1991 census to 208. In 2000, the population is probably around 200 (the 2001 census claimed the figure to be 179). Of these, 13 work within the parish (including the farmers). Some had retired to the area, an equal number worked within East Lothian and a similar number worked at a distance, mostly in Edinburgh.

During the war, there were land girls and also prisoners of war who came from the camp at Gosford, near Longniddry. Pleasants had two Ukrainians, one of whom stayed on for several years, living in the bothy, before leaving to run the Ukrainian centre in Edinburgh. German prisoners of war were housed in The Square; they must have enhanced their diet by poaching as gin traps were found under the floorboards when The Square was being renovated. An agent in Dunbar arranged for gangs of men to work on Spott farms at busy times and there were gangs of Irish to help with the harvesting until the early 1990s. There were also squads from Prestonpans and Port Seton. In the 1950s schoolchildren (mainly from Niddry) came to help with the potato harvest. Women from Dunbar would also be employed when extra help was required. They would be transported by horse and cart or by tractor and trailer to and from Dunbar High Street.

In general, the growth in, and changing face of, the village population since 1985, when major new development began, has been comfortably accommodated, and the pace of expansion, though rapid, has been sufficiently moderated to allow a natural evolution of the community’s identity.