|by the debris washed from the coal bings of Prestonlinks
and Prestongrange collieries. Lockhart tells us that Sir Walter
Scott in his boyhood came here to bathe, but almost all bathers
now go further east to Port Seton or Seton Dene.
History of Local Community.- The fertile soil, the
dry sunny climate, and the sea coast early attracted the monks
of Newbattle to this area. The hamlet of Preston or Priest's
town grew up about half a mile inland in association with
their farming activities, and following the erection of pans
on the foreshore for the manufacture of salt from sea water
in the early years of the thirteenth century, the name of
the fishing hamlet was changed from Aldhammer to Salt Preston.
The parish, which was separated from Tranent in 1606, was
for long known by this name.
There is, or rather was, only one harbour in the parish, Morrison's
Haven, to the west of Prestonpans. From the 16th to the 18th
century it was one of the busiest ports on the Forth, but
during the igth there was little trade until Preston- grange
Colliery developed. The harbour then became active again,
and as late as 1912 it accommodated ships of 600 tons. It
is now derelict and used as a swimming pool by local youngsters.
In the past the village of Preston was the scene of important
activities, and the Cross still stands where merchants came
to sell their wares and the ancient Guild of Chapmen of the
Lothians met annually until 1870 to elect their " king " and
his " lords depute " for the coming year. In the late i8th
century, however, the main centre of activity moved north
to the coast and several new industries were added to that
of salt-making, see Chapter 2. In a novel written during the
following century Prestonpans was described as a " long, gloomy,
narrow street with its mean hovels."
In 1914 the burgh still consisted of a single street which
extended from east to west along the raised beach for about
one mile, with a built-up area not exceeding 400 feet in width.
The High Street, undulating slightly throughout its length,
has a general fall of only one foot from east to west, while
the land to the south rises towards Preston village at a gradient
of one in fifty. In 1920 the first instalment of new municipal
houses was built. Prior to that the many old properties