Calls for notorious Prestonhill quarry pond to be filled in

Henderson, a teacher at George Heriot's, was taking part in an organised dive with friends
Henderson, a teacher at George Heriot's, was taking part in an organised dive with friends

Calls have been made to drain a notorious quarry pond in Fife after a school teacher died while scuba diving.

Kelda Henderson’s body was recovered by police frogmen on Monday after she failed to surface during an organised dive with friends at the disused Prestonhill quarry in Inverkeithing the day earlier.

The 36-year-old, a mother-of-one, was a popular drama teacher at George Heriot’s in Edinburgh.

The tragedy comes two years after 18-year-old John McKay drowned at the quarry, while Cameron Lancaster, also 18, was killed after jumping into the quarry the previous year.

Now an online petition is calling for the water to be drained from the privately-owned site to prevent more fatalities.

“How many lives must be lost before someone takes action?” said Alison Drummond Carnegie, who set up the petition yesterday. “Our thoughts are with all involved, past and present. It’s the worst feeling seeing a helicopter searching in the night sky in the quarry. Please empty the place and fill it in.”

Prestonhill is popular with scuba diving clubs from across Scotland. But many locals have called for the site to be sealed off to put an end to the tradition of people jumping from the cliff edge into the 30ft deep water below.

In 2015, Fife Council pledged to re-erect fencing around the pond and signage advising people not to enter the water, which is littered with debris including cars and rolls of discarded wiring.

Councillor Alice McGarry, whose ward includes Prestonhill, said the quarry site had recently been acquired by a consortium who intend to lodge a planning application to build houses on part of the land. There are also plans to establish a diving centre at the quarry pond.

“Local people would probably welcome the retention of the quarry as a safe diving space as part of a wider development,” she said. “The quarry, at the moment, lures people in as they think it’s a safe space.

“Divers are using the pond in a responsible manner. It’s a very complex site. Who would fill in the quarry? It’s not council-owned. The cliff face is equally dangerous. It could take years to infill. It’s not a feasible proposition, even if there was a plan put forward by private developers.”

Staff at Heriot’s paid tribute to the teacher, who regualrly travelled overseas on diving trips, including to Thailand.

Principal Cameron Wyllie said: “Ms Henderson was an immensely talented, compassionate and vibrant person who loved teaching drama.

“She inspired a love of her subject in many young people over the years. Those of us at school are very shocked.”

Police say inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.