Tranent | Population

The period has seen a slow and steady rise in the population of burgh and parish. Exact data is difficult to establish for two reasons. The first is that the civil parish includes Cockenzie and Port Seton and therefore parish figures from the decennial censuses include the whole area. Separated figures are provided for ‘localities’, including Tranent, but the boundaries of a ‘locality’ can be uncertain. Secondly, with the demise of the town council in 1975, there is no longer an accepted definition of where the burgh begins and ends (nor is it used as one of the building blocks of census data). In some cases, conflicting figures have been given by the General Register Office and by the local authorities – in these cases both are given. In the case of 1981 the figures for locality and town do not easily square up, for the locality population (which presumably should include Elphinstone) is only 60 or so more than the population of the town. With these caveats in mind, the figures are as follows:

By parish, from the General Registrar’s office
(By burgh, from the General Registrar’s office)
By locality – census – ie Tranent town itself
(excl C&PS and Elphinstone)
1931 9002 (4526) 4678M (2353M) 4324F (2173F)
1951 11022 (5369) 5503M (2765M) 5519F (2874F)
1961 11450 (6318) 5649M (3095M) 5801F (3223F)
1971 12157 (6281) 5954M (3055M) 6203F (3226F) 7396 3608M 3788F
1981 12790 (8021) 6231M 6559F 8080 3962M 4118F
By Small Area Statistics – census
(excl C&PS, and Elphinstone)
1991 13345 6457M 6888F 8075 3951M 4133F
2001 15169 7281M 7888F NO DATA

Note: Figures for the parish include Cockenzie & Port Seton and Elphinstone. Those in parentheses are for the burgh of Tranent, excluding Cockenzie & Port Seton and Elphinstone.

By Parish, from ELDC
(incl C&PS, and Elphinstone)
By settlement, from ELDC
(excl C&PS, and Elphinstone)
1991 13099 8313
1997 (est.) 14596 7164M 7434F 8693
2001 NO DATA 8892 (ELC)


Population – Elphinstone
1945 810 460M 350F (Snodgrass, C.P. 1953 p197)
By locality – census – ie Elphinstone village itself
1971 608 314M 294F
1981 627 307M 320F
By Small Area Statistics – census
1991 531 255M 276F
By settlement, from ELDC
1991 536
1997 (est.) 550
2001 514

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

Tranent folk call themselves the Belters – nobody seems to know when the term was introduced and this is the first of the four statistical accounts of the parish to mention this important fact. There are persuasive suggestions that the term relates to the parish’s rich agricultural history and the belting of farm horses, and less persuasive ones referring to the bellicose character of the inhabitants.

There is possibly a ‘Tranent accent’ – a rougher version of the typical East Central Scots working class dialect. This is not easy to explain in words, but when compared to other accents, it is obvious, according to David Sydeserff; he knows of no dialect words unique to Tranent.

Cheering masses greeted the Queen’s and Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Dunbar, Lennoxlove and Tranent in July 1956, her visit captured on newsreel preserved in the Scottish Screen Archive. The newsreel voice pronounces Tranent with a long a, and the stress on the first syllable, rather than with a short a and stress on the second syllable – to the amusement of any local who sees the film (Haddingtonshire Courier annual retrospective 1956 December). Even the latter pronunciation may be suspect vernacular to the die-hard native, who sometimes appears to be saying Turnent. ‘Lie Forrit’ is a popular motto, associated with the Tranent Juniors Football Club.