Work on improvements at historic Preston Tower and gardens in Prestonpans is progressing well.

The project, supported by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund via its local Salt of the Earth project, involves a number of enhancements at the late medieval towerhouse, which was originally constructed in the 15th century and then repaired and extended upwards in the 17th Century, gardens, and nearby doocot.

Two phases

The project is being delivered in two phases.

The first stage of the project, which is nearly complete, has involved the repair of the garden walls and reroofing and repairs to the doocot   To improve access and interpretation at the site new information boards - developed in collaboration with the local community - are being provided, as well as new paths and seating.

Archaeological investigations have also been taking place in and around the site as work has progressed and a laser scan survey of the tower completed which can be viewed online.

In order to facilitate the ongoing works, the gardens currently remain closed but a further update on their re-opening will be provided as soon as possible. Alternative bench seating is being put in place at nearby Prestonpans Community Centre.

The second phase of the project includes repairs to the tower’s stonework and the installation of a new stair outside the tower, leading to the first floor level, which will provide safe access to the tower.

Groves-Raines Architects Studios lead a team of conservation experts on behalf of East Lothian Council who manage the site under an agreement with owners The National Trust for Scotland.

'Great progress'

Councillor Colin McGinn, East Lothian Council’s Cabinet Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, said:

“I’m delighted to see that great progress is being made on this exciting project at Preston Tower. I know that the enhancement of this local landmark has been an ambition of the local community for a number of years. It’s really pleasing to see the council, owner, and local community working together to make this project happen.

“The project involves carrying out repairs to the tower and nearby doocot, as well as making improvements to walls around the tower. The priority is to enhance accessibility across the site, including safe access inside parts of the tower, whilst also improving the interpretation and understanding of the buildings to help shine a light on their local and national significance. It is also intended that the site can be linked with others in the area as part of a wider heritage network.”

Bryan Dickson, the National Trust for Scotland’s Head of Building Conservation Policy, said:

“Preston Tower is such an important building locally and we are really pleased to see the progress the project has made to date.  We are now moving to an interesting phase as we focus attention on the tower itself, addressing its repair needs and uncovering and sharing more stories about its fascinating history.”

Published: Thursday, 7th July 2022