The Baron of Prestoungrange
Dr. Gordon Prestoungrange
Interview by Sarah Powel (part 3 of 3)
A vision of the future
Gordon Prestoungrange has a vision of what the latter day role
of a local baron might well be. Since 1998 he has sought to work
together with the community in a programme of activities that
can advance regeneration by encouraging pride in the past, promoting
small industry and, most particularly, stimulating local tourism.
|The Prestoungrange Heritage Museum, established on the site
of the old colliery, is already very active in this respect.
The museum provides a graphic illustrated history of the area's
thriving past through the remaining brickworks, Cornish beam
engine, mining steam and diesel engines and their wagons,
the old mining museum exhibitions and colliery bathhouses.
Greatly impressed by its work, Gordon and his son Julian have
re-established their Baron Courts of Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun
as a non-profit organisation committed to furthering the museum's
aims and the espoused baronial vision. Gordon's own background
and ongoing interests in academic publishing and management
education have meant he was ideally placed to contribute.
A programme of activities and selection of brochures and online
publications has been launched to heighten awareness of local
history, industry and traditional skills. A Scottish artist, Janice
McNab was commissioned to produce a series of paintings. Small-scale
manufacture of pottery is being re-launched to make limited edition
reproductions together with a wholly fresh 21st Century Prestoungrange
Collection through a web-publicised competition amongst local
Local people are also being invited to volunteer to join in the
painting of a selection of murals depicting their community that
further tells the history and achievements of past generations.
And, most recently, the feasibility of again brewing some of the
famous old John Fowler's Prestonpans beers from a micro-brewery
is being studied.
Some Surprises Too
Gordon also has some surprises to offer locally. He intends to
convene in the area some of the other initiatives in which he
is involved outwith his barony. In Summer 2001 a marquee went
up at the Heritage Museum for a week with a spare six days available
to local societies. Its presence was required to stage the launch
of Burke's Landed Gentry: The Kingdom in Scotland, of which he
is Publishing Advisor. The BBC, Scottish TV and myriad journalists
came to the museum to report the event, the first time that title
has appeared for 32 years.
Other heritage activities are expected to join the new centre
being created at the 1865 Cockenzie Old School on Edinburgh Road.
And in 2002/2003 international meetings of The Global Association
for Arts Tourism and International Management Centres are anticipated
||Gordon knows from overwhelming evidence around the world
that if local people can join together in such initiatives,
the area can only benefit economically. He describes his contribution
as "democratic cyber-feudalism - not absentee landlordism"
and "as deeply satisfying as it is fun". However viewed, his
role looks like a potentially winning combination of the best
of traditional "baronial values" with a new spirit of democratic
entrepreneurship, and one which he hopes local people will
feel able to accept, enjoy and exploit.
Dr Gordon Prestoungrange, Baron of Prestoungrange, is Publishing
Advisor to the new 19th edition of Burke's Landed Gentry, which
will move on from its first Volume, The Kingdom in Scotland published
in August 2001, to a further six volumes on England, Wales and
Ireland by 2005, and to Burke's Peerage Baronetage and Knightage,
appearing next in 2003.