Yester | Economy

Tourism | Industry | Agriculture | Golf


Gifford has proved popular with tourists, and they are reasonably well catered for. There are two hotels in the village, the Goblin Ha’ & the Tweeddale Arms Hotel, both of good standard; each has been upgraded and extended over the period. They make a significant contribution to the local economy. There are two guesthouses, and two B&Bs in private houses. Camping sites were available c1945-70 mainly for scouts, also Boys’ Brigade and occasionally Girl Guides, at Broadwoodside and Yestermains.

Tourist information is provided by plaques on the wall, on the corner of Main Street and High Street. The two hotels also have tourism leaflets.

In 1972-73, there were some ‘working’ tourists, who were engaged on the restoration of St Mary’s, Haddington. Five or six workmen stayed at Goblin Ha’ hotel.

There are few specifically tourist-related activities on offer; one exception for a period from 1968-80 was pony trekking, run by Max Muir and George Tait from the Goblin Ha’ hotel. Tourists and locals alike make use of the two local golf courses, the attractions of the nearby countryside and coast, and everything else the county has to offer.


[see also Shops & Services]

The quarry at Longyester (Bardens) opened in 1976, and is still in operation (see Environment).

A number of businesses have operated successfully from the parish:

A. & R. Brownlie of Earlston ran the sawmill (established early in the 1900s) from 1945–60s; after the closure of the railway in 1948, timber was transported by lorry until the closure of the yard in the early 1960s. It closed because suitable timber in the area had been exhausted.

The buildings were gradually demolished, and by 2000, the sawmill site was overgrown with weeds.

Fencing and drainage contracting services were offered by Cazu Maslowski; the firm was founded in 1953 and closed in 1999. The buildings used were converted from an existing building (the Men’s Club c1920/30-53). A pre-fabricated office building was erected during the early 1970s. The buildings were demolished in 2000 when the owner retired; private houses were built on the site in 2001.

Fencers and drainers – David Sked, Martin and Sandilands – operated in 2000.

There was a millwright in the village, early 1900s-c1978, operating from a timber framed shed with a corrugated iron roof at the Old Corn Mill, Station Road. The millwright’s shed was demolished after the tenant retired and the property was sold for private development. The shed, probably built in the early 1900s, was then used for agricultural machinery repairs; it was demolished in the early 1980s.

From 1945-60s, J. & A. Chisolm (employing five to six men) had their joiner’s workshop (built 1930s) in the Wynd, made of brick with a corrugated iron roof. They moved to premises in Haddington. Pearson & Young, joiners then used the yard until 1971, and then the yard was sold for private housing.

A golf club factory (1971-74, with 20 staff) was set up in the pre-1968 primary school (which in turn had been the old Free Church school); the business moved to Berwickshire as larger premises were needed, and better grants were available. The building was then used as a furniture making workshop, Yester Wood, 1980-date.

The purpose-built pottery (and house), Castle Wynd Pottery in the old sawmill field, Station Road, operated from 1955–67; the two owners and one worker moved to Edinburgh to benefit from the tourist trade. Both buildings are now private houses.

Since 1990-date, Wendy Prentice of Easter Redshill, has run a knitwear business, ‘Finnbrook’.

Yester parish has been (and continues to be) home to a number of individuals with abilities in the arts: all offered their work for sale.

The late Mr & Mrs MacGeorge came to Gifford in the 1930s from the Kirkcudbright area and painted mainly landscapes with figures; Alistair Fiddes Watt, resident in the village since 1990, paints landscapes; painter Dorothy Duff (who set up the art group) was resident in Gifford. She died in the late 1990s.

Gian Carlo Menotti, resident at Yester house since 1974 is a composer of operas.


The most stable industry has been farming. From the 1960s, most of the farms have been owner occupied, and many farm buildings have been sold for conversion to private housing

Most of the lowland farms are given over mainly to grain, and on the higher land, it is mainly sheep and beef cattle.

One exception is Yestermains: originally the home farm of Yester estate, managed in the post-war period by William Wood, it has a long tradition of dairying. Jersey cattle were the preferred breed of the Tweeddales, and then from 1968, new owner Innes Lumsden of Quarryford kept Holstein Friesians. From 1992, the new owners, the McCreery family, continued with a new herd of this same breed.

Different crops are now grown, with oil seed rape, linseed and Phacelia, and silage is processed. Under European farm regulations a percentage of land must be set aside. On some farms fewer cattle meant growing less turnips for feed, and changing to oil seed rape, linseed etc. Some farms let out fields to potato merchants. New technology has greatly affected farms. Fewer labourers are employed as farmers cannot afford staff, whereas in the past, many farm labourers, usually male, came from Ireland to work, some remaining most of the year. Others came at potato harvesting time or for the grain harvest.

The price of sheep is the same as 100 years ago.

Hay making on Yester estate, c1945

Hay making on Yester estate, c1945

There is no organic farming apart from that at the Pishwanton Project. Some chemicals have been banned – such as those in sheep dip, dieldrin and so on – because of catastrophic effects on farmers’ health. Vets have also stopped using certain medicines.

Farm workers usually wore an old suit with dungarees or a boiler suit and heavy tackety boots or wellington boots. At harvest time they tied a belt or string round their trouser leg below the knee to prevent mice from going up their legs. These were known as Nicky Tams and this was in the days before combine harvesters. In wet weather they sometimes wore a hessian sack like a hood and cape. Now since there are tractors and combines they do not need so many outer clothes, mainly a boiler suit. All now have boots with a steel toecap to avoid foot injuries and ear mufflers to avoid damage to hearing. Women farm workers usually wore trousers and a ‘brat’ which was a coarse apron made of sacking and an ‘ugly’ sunshade bonnet with an adjustable cane frame. Very few women work as farm labourers now as everything is mechanised.

Items of outer clothing, especially boots, were sometimes bought by mail order (this was a heavy load for the postwoman). Other items could be purchased in Haddington eg Main the saddler or in Edinburgh.

Forestry: there are no state-owned forests within the parish, these having been sold in recent years. All woodlands are privately owned, mainly by estates and farmers.

The main area of woodland belongs to Yester estate and consists of a mixture of broadleaves and conifers of all ages. Lennoxlove estate owns some woodland to the west of Gifford Golf Course . Most other woodland is owned by farmers, although there are a number of woodlands owned privately – Wester Wood, Blinkbonny Wood and Pishwanton Wood.

In recent years, Forestry Commission grant schemes have favoured the planting of broadleaves and several young plantations have been established in the parish using these schemes. In addition to timber production in the long term, broadleaved or mixed conifer and broadleaved plantations encourage game and wildlife.

There are presently no sawmills within the parish, although an estate sawmill and a privately owned sawmill existed on Yester estate until the 1960s.

As timber has matured and been felled, it has been sold to sawmills throughout the Scottish borders, central Scotland, northern England and further afield. Mature conifer timber has been sold for construction and mature hardwoods for furniture making and occasionally for veneers. Small diameter material has been sold mainly for pulp, chipwood and fencing material. The nearest mills are in the north of England and central Scotland.

Yester estate used to have some twelve directly employed forest workers but since the late 1960s, all work has been carried out by contractors working for forestry management companies to guidelines laid down by the Forestry Commission.


There is one golf course wholly in the parish, and one that straddles the boundary between Yester and Garvald. Gifford Golf Course was opened in 1904 on land gifted to the parish by the 11th Marquis of Tweeddale; it was designed by Willie Wyatt of Royal Epsom. It has nine holes. The club had only one greenkeeper for many years (Jimmy Renton, from 1972-92, then James Combe 1992-date) with occasional help. In 1994 an apprentice greenkeeper was employed on Youth Opportunities Scheme, attending college one week in four. A rota of starters was also employed from early 1990s. Current membership is – 380 men, 170 ladies, 100 juniors. The fees are: adult – entry fee £150 + annual sub £50, juniors – entry fee £20 + annual sub £20 (see Hamilton, R 1989).

Castlepark course lies on what was farmland at Castlemains farm. The part of the course that lies in Garvald was begun in 1993 and opened in 1994; it has a clubhouse, driving range, and car park. The further nine holes were completed May 2002, and these are in Yester parish. Castlepark Golf Club has four full time greenkeepers and three part-time workers in the clubhouse. The club membership is 245 men, 38 ladies, 25 juniors.