PRESTONPANS - THE WAY IT WAS - William (Bing) Davie
Two months ago there was a slight argument between two men. one
who had just returned after a long slay in EngIand and the other
was a local worthy and they could not agree as to the changes that
had taken place in Prestonpans since they last met.
Right, said Tom. we'll take a walk as Far as they Brewery and back
to find out for ourselves what changes have occurred. You're on.
said Wull. and off they went.
We'll start here. said Wull - this was the quoiting green, an old
man's game like bowls, aye. and the Miners' Institute was next.
On they go. that wall there was for the auld Cuthill School with
Miss Smith the Head Teacher. then it was David Neilson's white house
and Mathieson's yard.
Och aye. I mind o' them. We used to go to the Lads Meeting trip
in his lorries, just down to the Lyars Brae. then there was the
wee store, my. it's a pub now.
There arc new houses there where Jock Nurl lived and there was the
Pottery with Belfield's big house. Next to that was Mary Mackie's
with her outside wooden stair, then Pat Cullen's and Hastie's garage,
aye you can see that it is now a car park for the Gothenburg.
On to Johnnie's Ice Cream Shop and then there was yon high block
with Jock Neilson's shop where you could buy a penny Vantas drink
or even treat yourself to a pigs trotter or a plate of hot peas.
They were smashing. Beenie AlIan's shop used to be here just before
you came to the doctors wynd with the big house called Walford.
My. I mind going there to get a big boil Ianced, said Tarn. and
he just told me to look out the window at the big boat coming up
the Forth, and whoosh!
The Black Bull pub was next with Mary Rogers' shop and Charlie McLeod's
house. I mind when he was the Provost of Prestonpans.
Look at this - a funeral shop and a hairdressers, my that used to
be Beehive Drapers. Look at the mess here. if Mr Laidlaw saw the
slate his shop was in now. even he would almost swear.
There was a wee shop here that stuck out before you came to the
store - even that's a different building now. You don't use your
store book and checks now. but of course you dinnae get dividend
The furnishing place, you hardly needed all that staff in these
days. This building was the Scratcher with its twice weekly change
The Store Chemists now was Whitelaws and Don the Chemist, and hello,
what's this they're building, this was the Auld Hammer House and
the Saltworks, but what do you say its to become'? New Council Offices
and some flats.
Dod McKenzie's barber shop and Innes'. even that's changed its name.
They have tidied up the square here at the monument. That new shelter
used to be a shed for Andra Mack's fire engine and there were railings
there where the Bookies used to put the Noon Record so you could
put a tanner double on at your leisure.
We'll have a wee scat here for a bit - aye. I miss the blethers
we had with Snib and Jokel. two hardy auld yins if ever there was.
You could slip down that close to the Tossing School or to CopeIands
boat and after a block of houses we came to this lot of shops, the
buildings haven't changed, but look at the names now.
There was the Danish Dairy. Quinn & Hughes. Erasers. McLean
the Ironmongers. Cunningham the grocers and Davy Smiths. I got my
first wireless there for 2/6d a week. Then there was the Bank and
as for this restaurant, it used to be BorIands known as "The
Gentleman's Outfitters", famed for his checked bunnets.
In the next lot of houses you found Bert Gibbons' Jewellers shop
and a wee fish shop at the end. Och look. the Boat House still stands
- that used to be a fish and chip shop and then this green patch
with Burns' shelter was a lot of old houses next to the Store blacksmiths.
The Post Office was here and the start of the Brewery buildings
before you came to the Barras at the foot of Harlaw Hill. so having
come this length we'll need to cross over and go back. I could murder
This is surely a posh supermarket now. it used to be where Fowler
kept their lorries and my. these gardens arc lovely in front of
Eh. is there nae industries left in the 'Pans at all? We had St
Ringans house here and the Soap Works with its famous soft soap.
Look at this now. a dentist where the Queens Arms used to be so
instead of pulling pints they're pulling teeth! We then had Bryces
shop and the close which was a short cut up to the school.
Before reaching Ayres Wynd we had Kennedy's the grocers and right
on the corner was the famous Buttercup Dairy. What a lovely clean
shop. You were never sure which one of the two sisters was serving
you, they looked like twins!
On the other corner was Kinghorn's. Do you still fancy a pint in
Greigie's now? None of these shops were here. just a block of flats
which stood back from he street. That paper shop used to be Greig's
the Ironmongers if I mind right and look. a barber's and a pets
clinic. They were Aggie Bagnall's and the Bank. She was some woman.
She could have done with a vet for some of the dogs she used to
back at Wallyford! Wullie Wilson the drapers was in here and now
its a Sports shop.
Across the street was the Town Hall. It was a very busy place in
my day. with dancing every Saturday night and usually a concert
through the week and the Lads' Meeting on a Sunday.
An opticians now. we couldn't afford new specs: then it was the
Store barbers with yon wee man frae the harbour cutting your hair.
A coffee shop. this was the Gas Office and shop.
Now these houses right along to the cemetery are the same although
I suppose the tenants will all have changed by now.
Another place gone - no Gasworks and the Salvation Army Hall. both
away. Cookies Wynd is still there, you went up there to the Penny
Pit and yon houses was the Undertakers and Joiners Shop before you
came to Samuel's Yard and auld Cockielaw the milkman's house, next
to Turnbull's the grocers.
We're getting on now but better no go in for a pint. just keep walking
until we get to Summerlee and the Cuthill.
These were the pit houses with their wash houses and outside middens
but in the middle of them was the Mission Hall where the Sisterhood
met and you had your annual kinderspiel.
Walking round the corner was Middle Street then right on was Front
Street with auld Mrs Nisbet's shop and the post Office. No queuing
for Family Allowance in those days. Just before we cross to go back
into the clubhouse where these pensioners houses are was where Brodie
Allison's shop used to be.
Aye it's true Tarn. there are a lot of changes and I fairly enjoyed
my walk but I think I'll put my feet up now and enjoy a pint.