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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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The real Johnnie Moat, after whom the big whinstone boulder on the shore is named, was, during the early years, harbour-master at Morison's Haven, but the exact time of his mastership we have failed so far to discover.
Some thirty years ago an attempt was made to deepen the entrance to Morison's Haven. On the water being pumped out, the remains of an old fort were discovered at the western side of the entrance. It was a three-cornered building with gun holes in it. We have seen a pencil sketch which was taken at that period. The old building was then destroyed and removed. This is further evidence of the fact that the water comes much farther in on this side of the Forth now than it was wont to do years ago.
This ever-clean and tidy-looking building is better known to many as " Ravensheuch " or " Raven's Hauch Toll, " and it was indeed a "toll-house. " It was built a little previous to the year 1800 by Peter Kerr, a sterling old highlander, and somewhat of a character in his day. He was great-grandfather, by the mother's side, of a well-known and worthy character of the present day, Mr Charles Forman, salt manufacturer in Cockenzie. Mr Peter Kerr became contractor for and looked after a great many tolls in East Lothian, and held them for quite a series of years; but after building Ravensheuch House he kept the toll there also, and, while keeping a strict lookout after the others, made it his headquarters. One of his chief peculiarities was his constant refusal to charge toll for blackfaced sheep. Sheep were always charged at so much per score. When counting the flock, he was always observed to miss the black ones; but any time he was reminded of the evident mistake, " Na, na, " was his invariable reply, " it's nae mistake o' Peter's, but ta Tevel never peys toll. "
Some five-and-fifty years ago, half-a-dozen youths, ranging from twelve to sixteen years, left Seton West Mains one morning to spend a holiday in Musselburgh. They took a pony with them to get rides time about by the way. They paid toll both at Ravensheuch and West Pans when going, but forgot they had to pay toll again when returning, and spent all their coppers in the sweetie and bun shops at Musselburgh. On coming back to West Pans Toll on their way home, they just remembered they had to pay again, and had nothing wherewith to pay. They made a dash to get through behind a machine, but were caught. " Not so fast, my lads ! " said the keeper, " not so fast! " " We dinna pay double toll on a wee beast like that? " queried the leader of the party. " Oh yes, " was the reply. They all set to rifling their pockets, and one did find as much as pay the fee. On getting to Ravensheuch they made a dash again, but it was of no avail. Again every pocket was turned inside out, but there were no coppers forthcoming, and the keeper threatened to stable the pony. They knew enough, however, to defy him to lay hands on it.
The half-dozen retired for a brief consultation, and a hearty laugh was the outcome. They again approached the keeper, with, "I say maister, if the pony doesna gang through the toll you dinna charge onything?" "Oh no, " was the reply; "if the gate doesna open, no pay. " " A' richt, " quoth the leader, " come on boys, " when four of them laying hold of a leg a piece, one the head, and another the tail, they carried him amid great laughter right through on the footpath. The toll-keeper became so hilarious over the device that he laughed too, then ran and helped them.
At a meeting of School Board held on December 3rd, Dr M'Ewan presiding, plans of a new school to be erected at Cuthill were approved of—Mr Peter Whitecross, architect. The school will accommodate 540 children, and will cost about, £3, 400.

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