A significant milestone in an ongoing heritage project at historic Preston Tower in Prestonpans has been reached.

Work completed as part of the £1.1m project to date includes significant repairs to the doocot and the installation of new interpretation boards with artist impressions of how the tower looked at different periods in its history.

A new seating area has been created in the gardens around a carved stone contemplation circle as well as new paths. Scaffolding, which has been in place to facilitate repairs to the external masonry of the tower, has now been removed. Access to the garden, which had been partly limited during the removal of the scaffolding, has returned to normal.

Traditional construction techniques

Preston Tower is a Scheduled Monument, parts of which date back to the 15th Century. During the current repair project, great care has been taken at every stage to ensure that the works are sympathetic and sensitive to the structure and fabric of the building.

Traditional construction techniques and materials are required and the council has been working closely with specialist contractors and consultants to deliver an appropriate repair project with all of the works specified by conservation accredited consultants (at Groves Raines Architects Studios) and reviewed by Historic Environment Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland.

Work is still ongoing on external stonework repairs outside the tower at a lower level, where access was limited due to the presence of the scaffolding. There is also work internally including to sections of pointing, consolidation of internal plaster, renewal of metalwork, and new floor grilles to enable safe access on first floor.

Electrical points are to be installed for future interpretation/display material. Some stonework repairs at the doocot are to be carried out, as well as refurbishment of gates and the repainting of a railing.

Final phase

The final phase of the project - the installation of an external staircase to allow public access to the inside of the tower for the first time in over 40 years - is due to be completed in the Autumn subject to final consent from Historic Environment Scotland.

Prestonpans Community Council secured initial funding for survey work looking at Preston Tower. Salt of the Earth Heritage Connections, a community network linked to the Area Partnership and funded by The Great Places scheme, has also been a key partner in the development work at Preston Tower building on the initial work taken place.   

The repair project to the tower, doocot and gardens has been funded from a variety of sources including the Scottish Government through its Town Centre Fund and Place Based Investment Programme, as well as the UK Government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund and by the National Trust for Scotland.

Friends of Preston Tower

With the repair works at Preston Tower coming to an end the council are currently engaging with the local community, and a new Friends of Preston Tower group ((2) Friends of Prestonpans Tower | Facebook) has been established, which has been adopted as a sub group of Prestonpans Community Council .  The friends group is looking to accommodate regular opening of the Tower, provide visitors with additional interpretation of the site and in the future, help to manage the tower. If you are interested in getting involved please email connect-psg@eastlothian.gov.uk or prestonpanscommunitycouncil@gmail.com

Published: Monday, 29th May 2023