Prestonpans Town Hall to host re-enactment and activities as part of 125th anniversary celebrations

A town hall museum will be transported back to 1897 as anniversary celebrations get underway.

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The Victorian town hall in Prestonpans, which is now a museum, is celebrating 125 years since the opening ceremony was held at the hall.

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And next weekend, residents will be given the chance to relive the events of its first day, with the original speeches set to be delivered from the same platform.

Actors wearing top hats and tailcoats will re-enact the events of the hall's opening ceremony in 1897 Picture: Chris Watt Photography
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    An actor will play the influential politician Richard Haldane, MP for Haddingtonshire at the time, who formally opened the town hall in the 19th century.

    Guests at the re-enactment will watch as actors, donning top hats and tailcoats, provide an insight into how the hall came to be build and what late Victorian politicians expected the future of the community to look like.

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    When the re-enactment finishes, visitors will be able to talk to various characters about what life was like in the 1890s. Children will also have the chance to take part in themed crafts and enjoy traditional refreshments.

    The event hopes to show how important Prestonpans Town Hall was to community life when it opened, and highlight the work of a local architect and contractors who designed and built it.

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    Anniversary celebrations are being held at Prestonpans' Victorian town hall Picture: Chris Watt Photography

    The project is supported by Historic Environment Scotland, which has provided £4,500 to support the series of projects to mark the heritage of Prestonpans Town Hall. It has been organised and hosted by the Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Heritage Trust, who have a five-year lease on the hall.

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    The anniversary celebrations will take place on Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7 between 11am and 4pm. The re-enactments will be held on both days between 11am and 12pm.

    A special commemorative medal bearing an image of the hall and the logo of the Burgh of Prestonpans will be available as a souvenir of the 125th anniversary.

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    Dr Gordon Prestoungrange, chairman of The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust, said: “Prestonpans Town Hall will always be much more than ‘our’ transitional museum. It wasn’t until we pondered how best to restore our then mothballed Town Hall that we realised just what a jewel we had leased.

    Prestonpans Town Hall - now a museum - will be transported back to 1897 next weekend Picture: Chris Watt Photography
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    He added: “As we’ve proceeded and more and more of our town’s people have visited, the realisation has grown stronger that our heritage Hall must never be allowed to return to the mothballed state it had reached before we took the lease. Continuing community future use must be ensured and we are committed to do all we can to help that happen working with the Community Council and many more.

    Anyone with information about ancestors who took part in the original opening ceremony or who has memories of events which took place in the building over the years - including soup kitchens, tea dances and Bay City Rollers concerts - are also asked to get in touch with organisers.

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    To share memories and stories, email [email protected] , get in touch on Facebook at battleofprestonpans1745, or visit the town hall to chat to Trustees or staff in person.

    The recollections wll be collated in a book of living memories, and those already received have been used to inspired artist Janet McCrorie - who once ran classes in the hall – who has been commissioned to create a commemorative artwork. The finished painting will be unveiled as part of the weekend’s events.