Work has begun on alterations to 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, work on a second phase of improvements gets underway this month on this important part of Prestonpans High Street.
Supported by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and following a design competition that involved a judging panel from the Community Council and the Royal British Legion, Rankin Fraser Landscape Architects have been appointed by East Lothian 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 who are not currently commemorated locally. An important feature of the site will be new stone plaques to commemorate the fallen of the area.
The joint 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.
Works have started in October 2021, beginning with the demolition of the viewing platform. The work will then pause to accommodate the usual Remembrance Day commemorations, before restarting later in November. The memorial was originally dedicated in spring 1922 and plans are being made for an official reopening of the square to coincide with the memorial’s centenary.
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 area 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 Memorial Square and other heritage assets identified, including Preston Tower where works are already underway and at Prestongrange where preparatory works are underway for a new engine shed to house some of the museum, a volunteer base, and the regeneration of the former bathhouse.