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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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" Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink, " very often might the villagers have sung out with the poet, for for many years had the village been in a deplorable state for want of water. No doubt there have always been pump-wells and draw-wells in abundance, but these were often muddy or dry; and though there were even wimpling burnies seeking their way across the streets, these were neither at times fit for tea nor for toddy. But at length the Burgh Commissioners, under Chief Magistrate White, took the matter in hand, and in order to supplement their very meagre and unsavoury supply, they had their attention drawn to the " Black Well. "
The name " Black Well" sounds a little ill-foreboding, reminding one of the historical " Black Plague, " but nervous people need have no dread of this. The only trouble ever connected with this well was the water trouble in the minerals of the district. The well is known in mineral phraseology as the " Bankton Level. " The upper or great coal seam crops out here, and this level was run under the direction of the York Buildings Company of London, or their trustees, up towards Bankpark and the Glebe, and it was opened for that purpose about 1750. From 1828 to 1840, during the water famine at Tranent, the " Black Well" proved a great source of supply to the villagers, who were wont to carry it thither. The " Black Well" used to be a favourite resort for Sunday strollers long ago, and the well got its name from the fact that when one peeped into the opening, where gross darkness abounded, the water looked very black.
The Burgh Commissioners of Prestonpans were early satisfied with the quality and quantity of water which came by way of the " Black Well, " and taking advantage of an old quarry on the south side of the North British line, they erected a reservoir there. This was built with 20 inch rubble and cement, faced with brick, and covered all over with a coating of cement. It is capable of holding 130, 000 gallons of water, which was sufficient, according to the population of that period, for supplying the villagers for thirteen days at the rate of thirteen gallons per head per day. The water flows through a filter formed of coke, and is conveyed to the town, about a mile distant, in 4 inch iron pipes, and through the town in 2 1/2 inch iron pipes. The average supply was about thirty-four gallons per head per day. The whole works were superintended by Mr M'Queen, of Prestonpans, and cost something like £900.

On 16th July 1878 these waterworks were finally opened. It was quite a day of rejoicing in the district. Mrs White, wife of the chief magistrate of the burgh, had the honour of turning on the new supply. A cake and wine banquet was afterwards held at Bankton Park.

Taking your stand on Tranent Muir, and casting an eye a little south-east over the Lammermoors, you will have no difficulty in distinguishing a small round tower on the highest pinnacle. That is the Cairn—a clump of gathered stones with a pole in its centre stretching heavenwards—and the hill is known as Lammer Law. There is a cleft in the hills directly beneath the Law, and another cleft a little to the west of it, and from this proceeds the silvery spring known as Kidlaw Burn. Following its various windings downhill on a sunshiny day—oh, how delightful!—you may hear the gurglings of the limpid stream as it leaps from rock to rock beneath the overgrowing ferns and mosses, but nothing of it can be seen for its ever verdant covering. Lower down it comes to light, and begins to leap over the many light but beautiful waterfalls; and still lower down, as it begins to spread out, if it loses the charm of its ferns and its mosses, it finds another charm for the stroller in its silver-scaled fishes, for here the playful trout abounds. This then is the source of the new water supply arranged for by the Burgh Commissioners, and a purer, sweeter spring it would have been hard to light upon.
In order to lighten the burden of bringing in the supply, a joint water district has been formed, extending east to west from Port Seton to Morrison's Haven, and south to Prestonpans station. A reservoir will be formed in the hollow ground amidst the hills, known as Kidlaw Loch, and a second reservoir will be formed a little lower down at the Witch's Knowe. Two filter beds will be constructed at Tranent Mains about 200 feet above sea level, and the estimated cost of the entire scheme is , £16, 000.

A new congregational hall in connection with the Parish Church, and in the vicinity of the church, is being rapidly constructed. The plans show it to be an exceedingly handsome building. It will be comfortably seated for upwards of 400 people, and the cost will be at least £1500.
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