Update on Salt of the Earth project

Since the Preston Seton Gosford Area Partnership established its Great Place - Heritage Connections Project (known locally as “Salt of the Earth”) with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, community groups have been working together with the Council to identify and celebrate the important natural, cultural, and physical heritage in their area.

Through Salt of the Earth’s work the Area Partnership wants to underline the sense of local pride the heritage of the area gives, recognise its potential to bring people and communities together, raise ambition for the area, and reduce inequalities and social exclusion.  They believe that everyone in the ward should have the opportunity to experience and be inspired by heritage.

As a result of this partnership approach, East Lothian Council has been able to secure significant additional capital funding for the some of the heritage assets identified and plans for the regeneration of sites in and around Prestonpans are making good progress.

Prestongrange Heritage Park

Following an award from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund in the autumn of 2020 planning is now underway for the regeneration of the former miner’s bathhouse at the Prestongrange site.

The planned works will include the repair and refurbishment of the bathhouse building providing a volunteer hub, future potential commercial and exhibition space, the construction of a new ‘engine shed’ to better develop and display the museum locomotive collection, as well as repairs to important structures and improvements to access around the site. The project team are also exploring the potential of the former mine workings underground water on the site to provide low carbon energy for heating buildings both at Prestongrange and in the surrounding communities. 

This project is intended to the first of several phases of regeneration working towards a vision of a destination heritage park.

Prestonpans War Memorial Square

Following work to restore the World War One War memorial led by the Local Area Partnership and Community Council in 2018, a planning application has been submitted for a second phase of improvements to this important part of Prestonpans High Street.

Supported by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and following a design competition that involved representatives from the Community Council and the Royal British Legion, Rankin Fraser Landscape Architects have been appointed by the Council to oversee the project. Rankin Fraser’s successful competition submission aims to improve the setting of the memorial by repairing the surrounding walls, renewing paving and improving seating, and providing new space for commemoration and local heritage interpretation. The proposals also include the removal of the 1950s viewing platform in favour of new openings in the existing walls so views of the Forth can accessed by anyone.

Research carried out by the Community Council has identified local people who died during conflicts and are not currently commemorated locally, an important feature of the site will be new stone plaques to commemorate the fallen of the area. 

The Community Council’s vison for the site is that it can become a focal point for the High Street, hosting events and markets as well as being a safe comfortable space to rest and spend time.

Preston Tower

A second local project supported by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund will see a number of improvements made to the late medieval towerhouse and surrounding structures.

Plans for the regeneration of the Tower site are focused on improving access and encouraging more people to visit in future. It has been many years since local people and visitors could safely access the tower, which has the potential to contribute significantly to the economy and to build on local pride of place. 

The project is being progressed by East Lothian Council in collaboration with the tower’s owners the National Trust for Scotland and with the support of the Preston Seton Gosford Area Partnership, Salt of the Earth, and the Community Council.

Due to early indications of protected species using the site, the project will be delivered in phases to ensure minimal disturbance of habitats and to avoid, wherever possible, potential breeding and roosting seasons.

It is expected that contracts for all three of the Preston Seton Gosford projects will be awarded in the spring, with work commencing in early summer.

Sharon Saunders, Head of Communities, East Lothian Council, said:
“I’m delighted that such good progress is being made across these three important projects to enhance much-loved local landmarks. The tower and nearby doocot have an important place in the lives of local people, as does Prestongrange and the town’s War Memorial. All three areas have been in need of regeneration for some time.”

“Through the work of our Lottery funded Great Place project there are plans to link the three sites with others in the area as part of a wider heritage network. It’s all about maximising the potential of the area and I’m sure it will be a great benefit to the local community.”

“Local heritage sites like these link people to their place and community. Through investment and by working in partnership with communities we can also provide significant opportunities for reducing local inequalities though opportunities for high quality training and education, creating visitor attractions that benefit the local economy, and providing work for the local construction sector.  

“East Lothian Council is a leader in heritage led regeneration in Scotland, and by working closely in partnership with our local communities we continue to successfully secure and allocate significant external funding for our area. The combined external investment across these projects exceeds £2.3m for Preston Seton Gosford, and follows the recent announcement of £1.13m for a Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme in Dunbar Town Centre.”

Published: Monday, 22nd March 2021