The rededication ceremony at the war memorial in Prestonpans Civic Square in November 1964.
The rededication ceremony at the war memorial in Prestonpans Civic Square in November 1964.

Prestonpans Heritage in Pictures: These 21 photographs from the 1950s and 1960s show what life was like in the East Lothian town

It was the location of a famous battle and once produced most of Scotland’s salt – and there was plenty going on in Prestonpans half a century ago.

Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 3:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 3:22 pm

Legend has is that Prestonpans was founded in the 11th century by the survivors of a shipwreck who decided to set up a community when it became clear they’d not be able to get home.

In fact, it seems likely that the truth is more prosaic – with the original settlement of Althamer, meaning ‘old house’, likely to predate the apocryphal tale by a century when the monks of Newbattle and Holyrood arrived in the district.

The monks renamed the town Prieststown which would eventually evolve into Prestonpans due to the salt panning industry that became so important to the area.

At the start of the 15th century there were no less than 10 salt works in the town, whose growth was also aided by coal mining, fishing, soap production, potteries and a brickworks.

And at one point there were 16 breweries in Prestonpans – all of which are now closed.

The town (or rather a site just outside the town) is also well known for being the location of the Battle of Prestonpans on September 21, 1745, which was the first major conflict in the second Jacobite Rising and saw the Jacobites loyal to James Francis Edward Stuart defeated the army loyal to the Hanoverian George II.

The modern town centre still contains a number of important historic buildings, including Preston Tower and the Mercat Cross, while it’s been named "Scotland's Mural Town" due to its collection of colourful public artworks depicting local history.

Here are 21 pictures to take you back to Prestonpans in the 1950s and 1960s.

Read more:

Edinburgh's Morningside: These 28 pictures from the 1950s and 1960s show the fascinating past of the residential neighbourhood

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