1745 Battle Trustees' Annual Report  ... 'Well we certainly kept the momentum going ... '
Schools and Clubs Programme, Annual and Occasional Re-enactments, 3rd Biennial National Battlefield Symposium, Interpretation panels, Tapestry displays aplenty ... all en route to our Living History Centre sometime soon ....
During 2012 the Trust continued to maintain momentum across all its main strands of activity. It also saw further growth in the Appeal Fund now standing at £103,400, and income from books, merchandise and donations was sufficient to meet ongoing expenditures. The contributions of unpaid volunteers were as ever the engine of all that was achieved.
The core purpose of the Trust as it conserves the battlefield at Prestonpans is to present and interpret the significance and meaning of September 21st 1745. And this is never more effectively achieved than in the visits to schools and lectures to history groups which the Trustís Alan Breck Regiment undertakes throughout the year. For this we are greatly indebted to Adam Watters, Gordon Veitch and Arran Johnston. In the coming years we are optimistic that these activities can be greatly expanded and Gordon Veitchís Battle Gaming Board, always a popular element, renovated.
The Alan Brecks were once again responsible for convening and managing the annual weekend Re-enactments of the battle itself, with support from the Glenbuckets and many other groups across the UK and as ever the 77th Montgomeries from the Czech Republic. The Riggonhead Defile was again walked at 5 am with a much appreciated medal struck for all those taking part. The main encampment and re-enactments moved this year from Cuthill Park to The Greenhills which offered a wider space and attracted our largest audience yet estimated at some 3000. For the future the Trust is evaluating whether an entrance fee might be charged to help defray the unavoidable costs involved. An added highlight this year was the exhibition at Prestongrange Museum of the skull of Captain Clarke from Hamiltonís Dragoons with many hundreds of visitors.
Herbert Coutts again convened and led the Trustís Biennial National Battlefield Symposium [the 3rd] at the Town Hall. The excellent speakers invited included Ronald Black who discussed the Gaelic dimension of the battle and frequent allusions to Gladsmuir. After considerable discussion the Trust resolved that it should seek as it was able to use the Gaelic language in its interpretations. Ronald Black immediately agreed to translate the Tapestry DVD script into Gaelic and the Trust has subsequently received a grant of £6000 from the Scottish Governmentís Scots and Gaelic Learning Directorate to translate John Unwinís Tapestry cartoon book which had been published earlier in French and English for the Pornichet/ St Nazaire exhibition.
The Symposium was as always supported by Historic Scotland and has led to two new much appreciated initiatives. Our 4th Symposium in 2014 will be offered in partnership with them and they have also made available a grant of £5,000 towards the publishing expenses of a new book on all the battlefields across East Lothian since pre Roman times especially Pinkie Cleugh and Dunbar. Arran Johnston is to be the author of Our Blood Stainíd Fields, and HG The Duke of Somerset, descendant of the English victor at Pinkie Cleugh in 1547, has agreed to contribute an Introduction. This extension of the Trustís canvas across the whole of East Lothian has been taken in discussion with and the consent of battle heritage groups in Dunbar and Musselburgh since it is now accepted that, when in the years ahead the Trustís plans for a major living history centre are realised in Prestonpans, it will be more cost effective to offer such a comprehensive story to visitors.
Liaison with Historic Scotland in respect of all aspects of the Living History Centre has been continuous since the confirmation of Scottish Government support for the Trustís purposes by then Cabinet Culture Secretary Mike Russell in 2008. In April/ May the Trust took the opportunity of the East Lothian Council elections to ask all candidates for Councillor whether they too supported its objectives. Whilst members of the then governing parties at Haddington did not respond, the Trust was gratified that the Labour candidates did and since now coming into office in Haddington in coalition with others considerable progress is expected. Darren Barker [of Barker Langham], who has assisted the Trust from the outset in its future planning, was mandated in July to lead these developments and the requisite funding strategies and campaigns in partnership with the Trustees. It is also to be hoped that action might at last be taken on the Petition to East Lothian Council in January 2010 in respect of signage and the Colonel Gardiner obelisk at Bankton House.
The Prestonpans Tapestry sustained its celebrity status throughout the year with visits by HRH The Princess Royal, HMís Lord High Commissioner Lord Selkirk and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture Fiona Hyslop. Some 50,000 more visitors saw the artwork at exhibitions in Cockenzie House, Prestonpans Town Hall, Paxton House, the Hypodrome in Pornichet/ St Nazaire, St Maryís Cathedral Edinburgh and Corbyís Grampian Club. Trustee Dorrie Wilkie and stitcher colleagues ensured the maintenance and refreshment of the panels when it was not on display. Books and merchandise continued to be attractive to visitors and in anticipation of possible increases in these fields the Trust established during the year a wholly owned subsidiary enterprise Battle Traders  Limited for future action.
The highlight for the Tapestry in 2013 will be its September/ October display at Bayeux alongside their famous 11th century artwork which inspired our own. A Scottish Festival is planned for its opening weekend prior to our own annual re-enactments in Prestonpans. Plans to tour in North America have been placed on hold for the time being since it is now envisaged that such visits might sensibly take place in parallel with Prestoungrange Arts Festival new embroidered artwork, the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, which will be ready for the 2014 Homecoming.
The Trust is also finally able to report that the last elements of the HLFís Your Heritage grant of £50,000 have been invested in four further Interpretation Boards. It is gratifying that the initial four boards placed in 2011 have been well cared for and appreciated. Particular thanks go to Trustees Kris Cunningham, Arran Johnston and Pauline Jaffray for the management of this investment including the earlier archaeological study undertaken within the grant by Dr. Tony Pollardís team from Glasgow University.
The Trustís challenge in 2013 and beyond is to maintain its momentum, building yet further support across the community and local and national government for the Living History Centre. We have many reasons to be more optimistic now than we were just 12 months ago that substantial progress to achieve the Dream will soon be made. And we shall do all we can to advance that belief.
Published Date: December 5th 2012