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Apologies are certainly in order!

We apologise. It's true we did not discuss the Battle Trust's latest proposal for the BathHouse with Prestonpans Community Council, as we properly should have ...

..and we will take the earliest opportunity in the New Year to engage with them, and all other Panners.

We have immediately invited the Councillors to meet with the Trustees prior to and during our next meeting commencing at 5pm on Thursday, January 19th at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg. And therefrom, we'll establish a series of occasions over the coming weeks when all interested in learning of the proposals lately put to the Heritage Lottery Fund [HLF], and joining in the debate on how to make a success of it all, are very much welcome to join in.

Marie Sharp's storyline in the East Lothian Courier [text below] does not reflect what we've heard over the years, but there are key issues she reports we know we should address at once

1. We have consulted and discussed the proposals we are making far and wide for the past 7 years; ever since the suggestion was first mooted by Cllr. Willie Innes [then Opposition Leader] at East Lothian Council's [ELC's] Petitions Committee in January 2010. We did present the 'initial' ideas to Prestonpans Community Council as Marie Sharp reports. We consulted with local schools and those attending the battle re-enactment in 2015 on the Greenhills. And we have debated and explored options with ELC's Officers and Councillors for the past 2 years.

2. We, and all at ELC, have been ever conscious in all our debates that the museum is an 'industrial heritage' site which has, whilst honouring the community's industrial heritage over the 50 years, also hosted all manner of activities and events - including Battle of Prestonpans skirmishes!

3. The proposal we have made to HLF envisages the retention of the name BathHouse for the restored centre and, vitally, [a] the restoration of key elements of the BathHouse and [b] the recounting of the social welfare reforms in coal mining across the centuries which culminated in going home washed rather than blackened by coal dust.

4. The proposal has the potential to increase footfall at the museum from some 10,000 per year to 80,000 and more, bringing greater awareness and learning and enjoyment to visitors who will inevitably be drawn to the wider industrial heritage at Prestongrange. Visitor success achieved at the BathHouse will surely encourage investment in our extraordinary industrial heritage making it ever more attractive to visitors where an obvious immediate priority is to see the steam engines and the Beam Engine fully involved once again.

5. We are certainly not an 'extra-Pans' organisation telling Panners what 'their' heritage is! Frankly, that hurts; and we're sure it was uttered in the heat of the moment. The Trust was established at The Prestoungange Gothenburg in 2006 and has been the community's 1745 focus for 10 years, fighting to conserve the battle site, ably assisted by the Coastal Regeneration Alliance. We have drawn in thousands of community members to our annual re-enactments and established a re-enactment Regiment that is a leader across Scotland. We have established and interpreted walkers'/ cyclists routes, taken the lease at the top of the bing and at Bankton Doo'cot and restored the latter. We have scripted and presented theatre and murals across town and at The Fringe. And certainly not least we have fathered and toured the Prestonpans Tapestry with over 400,000 visitors across the nation and in France.

6. And Yes, such an initiative will of course create jobs - some 14 are directly proposed at the BathHouse with a 5m. annual impact across the local economy each year when the 80,000+ visitors come to Prestonpans.

That Invitation: Thursday January 19th from 5pm onwards at the Prestoungrange Gothenburg!

Please come along. Everyone with our community's heritage at heart is welcome of course.

Published Date: December 28th 2016

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