Musselburgh

East Lothian

The Honest Toun

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The Honest Toun

In 1201 the nation’s nobility gathered there to pledge allegiance to the future Alexander II, aged just 4, in the presence of his father William the Lion. In the fourteenth century, the Regent of Scotland died in Musselburgh after a long illness during which he was cared for by the local people. When his successor offered to reward the people, they refused saying that they were only doing their duty. Thus, the townspeople became famed for their honesty: since then Musselburgh has been known as the ‘Honest Toun. The New Bridge seen below was built in 1806 and designed by John Rennie the Elder a Scottish civil engineer born in 1761 in Phantassie, near East Linton.

Musselburgh's New Bridge East Lothian

Musselburgh Mile Stone

Musselburgh known as ‘The Honest Toun.’ is the first town of East Lothian to the south east of the City of Edinburgh approximately 5 miles (9 klm). Carved on the Stone below: 

5 Miles from the General Post Office Edinburgh | erected to regulate the post horse duties |payable | by hackney coaches |1821 |first restored in 1933 | restored by |Musselburgh and Fisherrow |CO-OP 1998.

The Mussel in Musselburgh

The Mussel in Musselburgh is a 12 feet high mussel shell sculpted from stainless Steel which can be seen on the Edinburgh Road on the main road into Musselburgh. Musselburgh was associated with mussels and oysters along with sea fishing from its beginnings. The River Forth was at one time, one of the riches Oyster beds sin the UK.

The Mussel of Musselburgh East Lothian

The name Musselburgh deriving from the place for mussel’s referring to the shellfish, and burgh derived from Place. The original settlement and harbour in the present Burgh was between the high ground of Inveresk and the River Esk up the river at the old bridge. When the roman army occupied Inveresk from 142 A.D. – 163 A.D. the shore line of the Firth of Forth was 500 metres inland from its present position. Boats could navigate up the Esk River as far as the Roman Bridge. In the 13th century the town centre had shifted to the lands of Pinkie the jurisdiction of the Abbots of Dunfermline who were granted a charter in 1070 by King Malcolm III. The town centre has been here for 700 years.

Roman bridge over the River Esk Musselbu

River Esk Estuary

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The River Esk estuary is in Musselburgh East Lothian and flows from two separate sources. The first (the north Esk) is from the Pentland Hills near Carlops, West Lothian and the second (the south Esk) from  the west slopes of Blackhope Scar in the Moorfoot Hills in the Scottish Borders. They join together just outside Dalkeith in Midlothian and finish at the Firth of Forth in Musselburgh. The River Esk at one time was the border between Scotland and England.

The images below show, Looking down the Esk from Musselburgh and The Esk estuary with Arthur Seat in the distance.

River Esk Estuary Musselburgh East Lothian
River Esk Musselburgh East Lothian

St Peter’s at the Gate 

Musselburgh

East Lothian

St Peter’s Church in Musselburgh stand at the old East Gates to Musselburgh. St Peter’s Church was built circa 1862.

The pillars that stand at both sides of the road once held the east gates to Musselburgh. The Pillars were moved further apart to make way for the present road.

Musselburgh East Gate Posts
St Peter's at the Gate to Musselburgh.JP

Riding of the Marches

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The Riding of The Marches is a weeklong festival for all ages and events are held each day. The final day a procession through the streets of the town which symbolising the riding around the land borders with the town champion leading the procession in his armour and carrying the town standard. For the 21st adversary horses were displayed around Musselburgh area.

Musselburgh Riding of the Marches 'Black'
Wally Musselburgh Riding the Marches East Lothain
Thunderbolt Musselburgh Riding the Marches East Lothian
Taylor Musselburgh riding the marches East Lothian
Pinkie Musselburgh Riding the Marches Ea
MADAME POMPIDOU Musselburgh Riding the M
GIAI Musselburgh Riding the Marches East
NIPPER Musselburgh Riding the Marches Ea
BURGH BEAUTY Musselburgh, Riding the Mar
Crillie Musselburgh, Riding the Marches
GELATO Musselburgh, Riding the Marches East Lothian
Bonnie Musselburgh, Riding the Marches E
Horsey McHorseface Musselburgh, Riding t

Musselburgh Mercat Cross 

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The Musselburgh Mercat Cross dates from circa 1740 and stands on the site of the original medieval cross. At the top of the pillar stands a lion holding a shield with the Musselburgh Coat of Arms inscribed on it. The mercat cross was where public proclamations would be announced to the residents of the towns. There were a row of houses that stood facing the present west side of the High Street from the Tolbooth to the east gate pillars. This is where amongst others, The Regent had a house and Sir Walter Scott also lived here in Musselburgh when he was Quarter Master of the Edinburgh Light Horse. 

Mercat Cross Musselburgh East Lothian
Musselburgh Mercat Cross Plaque

The Plaque reads; NEAR THIS SPOT STOOD TILL THE EARLY | PART OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY THE | HOUSE IN WHICH THERE DIED ON 20th JULY | 1332 THOMAS RANDOLPH, EARL OF MORAY | REGENT OF SCOTLAND | ACCORDING TO TRADITION THE MOTTO | “HONESTATS” ADOPTED BY THE BURGH | IS DERIVED FROM THE TRIBUTE PAID TO THE | CITIZENS FOR THEIR CARE OF THE DYING | REGENT BY DONALD, EARL OF MAR | HIS SUCCESSOR IN THE REGENCY | REVEILED 20th JULY 1932 | DAVID LOWE, PROVOST

 Musselburgh

Tolbooth and Tower 

Musselburgh

East Lothian

Musselburgh Tolbooth was built in 1496 and the tower is the only original part that still survives. The original clock was gift by the Dutch. In 1544 the Earl of Hertford Edward Seymour 1st Duke of Somerset on Henry VIII orders was sent to Burn Edinburgh and whatever on the way. This was an attack by the English sea-borne army and the first major action of the war of the Rough Wooing.  Musselburgh was burnt but the tower of the Tolbooth survived.

The Tolbooth was built adjoining the tower in 1590. The Building was built from the remnants of the chapel and hermitage of Our Lady of Leureit, which was used as a hospital for the dead and wounded at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. The Chapel and Hermitage was destroyed as many other places of worship were destroyed during the Reformation in 1544.

Musselburgh Tolbooth (Jail) East Lothian

Open Champions Plaque

Tolbooth Musselburgh

At the top of the steps of the Tolbooth in Musselburgh is a Bronze plaque which reads; 

ROLL OF HONOUR | OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONS | WILLIE PARK Senior 1860, 1863 1866 1875 | all at Prestwick | MUNGO PARK 1874 | at Musselburgh | BOB FERGUSON 1880, 1881, 1882 | Musselburgh, Prestwick, St Andrews | DAVID (DEACON) BROWN 1885 | Musselburgh | WILLIE PARK Junior 1887, 1889 | Prestwick and Musselburgh 

Open Golf Champions Plaque Musselburgh E

Sir Walter Scott

Musselburgh 

East Lothian

Sir Walter Scott  Lived in Musselburgh and at 57 High Street Prestonpans circa 1800 while on duty as the Quarter Master of the Edinburgh Light Horse. He was injured why on Portobello Beach where the Edinburgh Light Horse drilled. While recovering he completed  “The Lay of the last Minstrel”. The plaque above reads;    

 

SIR WALTER SCOTT CREATED HONORARY BURGESS | OF MUSSELBURGH 25th MARCH 1799 RESIDED IN | THE HONEST TOUN PERIODICALLY FROM 1797 – 1808 | WHILE ON DUTY AS QUARTERMASTER OF THE EDINBURGH | LIGHT HORSE AND THERE WROTE MANY STANZAS OF THE LAY OF | THE LAST MINSTREL AND OF MARMION | SCOTT CENTENARY 1932

Sir Walter Scott Bronze Plaque Musselbur

David MacBeth Moir Monument

Musselburgh

East Lothian

David Macbeth Moir was born in Musselburgh in 1798 and became a medical doctor gaining a degree from the Edinburgh medical School of Edinburgh University in 1816. He was also an accomplished poet.  There is a memorial statue that stands at the side of the River Esk near Musselburgh High Street which was erected in 1853. David Macbeth Moir worked in his medical practice in Musselburgh for 35 years till his death in 1851.

David Wright Drinking Fountain

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The War Memorial fountain was unveiled on Remembrance Sunday 2000. This commemoration is to the residents of Musselburgh who did not return from  World War II over 200 residents.

War Memorial Drinking Fountain Musselbur

 Roman Bridge

Musselburgh 

East Lothian

The original Roman Bridge over the river Esk is said to have been built by the Romans in the 6th century and a bridge has been in the same position since that time, all be it the bridge has been rebuilt in part and a third arch has been added.

The bridge is still in use as it originally was, a foot bridge that the Romans used the Jacobite’s, Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and also the English during the reformation and Cromwell. Musselburgh is believed to be one of the oldest towns in Scotland becoming a Burgh in 1354 and became a Royal Burgh in 1632 and was first quoted as The Honest Toun” in 1332 after attending to the Regent at no cost. (see plaque on Musselburgh Mercat Cross.

Esk Roman Bridge Musselburgh East Lothia

Roman Archer Statue

“Musselburgh Silver Arrow”

On the west bank of the River Esk near to the Roman Bridge a sculpture of a bronze Archer can be seen. The Musselburgh Archer is a life size figure of a roman warrior from the invasion of Scotland in 80 AD.  The sculpture also depicts the historic archery competition “The Musselburgh Silver Arrow” circa 1600.

The Silver arrow was competed for on Musselburgh links annually by the members of the Royal Company of Archers. The winner receiving a sliver arrow which he would keep for one year and attach a medal of gold or silver with his name and date before returning the arrow. The actual date the competition started is vague with minutes of meetings stating 1603, but prior to that date winners of one dated 101 with two prior to that. 

Roman Archer Musselburgh East Lothian

17th Century Coaching Inn

Musselburgh

East Lothian

No.7 High Street Musselburgh was built as Carriage Inn in circa 1650 and later became the French Ambassador's House Through the gated arch are a row of Stables,  which originally would have been used to change the horses on the coaches. On the front elevation can be seen stone carvings of a Thistle, Rose, Fleur-de-lis and  one other  representing Scotland, England, France and other The Seton Crest was a crescent shape as seen on the Pinkie Do'cot .

Coaching Inn 17th Century Musselburgh with Stables
 

Musselburgh Racecourse

Musselburgh Golf Links

Musselburgh Links is situated in the middle of the Musselburgh Racecourse. There is written evidence of golf being played on Musselburgh Links on 2 March 1672 but in other books of history it is said that Mary Queen of Scots played at the links circa 1560. The Musselburgh Links held the Open Golf Championships in 1874, 1877, 1880, 1883, 1886, 1889. The Claret Jug was first played for at St Andrews in 1873. Golf is also mentioned in Parliament in 1457. With golf being played on Bruntsfield Links Edinburgh prior to that date. 

Musselburgh Racecourse Raceday.JPG

Golf History

Musselburgh

East Lothian

Golf has been played on Musselburgh Links from 1672. Due to over crowding of courses in Edinburgh 

The Royal Burgess Golfing Society (Old Golf Club in World) of Edinburgh moved to 10 Links Place now Balcarres Road Musselburgh in 1875. Now used by Musselburgh Links “Old Course Golf Club” founded 1982.  Musselburgh Links is where the Open Golf Championship was played in 1874 and on 5 further occasions. The Open was held from 1860-72 at Prestwick Golf Club.  Musselburgh Golf Club 9 Links Place now Balcarres Road Musselburgh golf course was the first club house at Musselburgh Links 1872. Became Royal Musselburgh Golf Club (6h Oldest in world) in 1876.

The world's first golfing competition for women took place in Musselburgh in 1811.

The Golf hole was first cut to the present diametre by Blacksmith Robert Gay from Musselburgh in 1829 and became the official size in 1893.

 
The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh Golf Club House Musselburgh East Lothian
Musselburgh Old Course Golf Club (3).JPG

British Open Golf Champions 

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The first open golf Championship was held in 1860, was played over 3 rounds of golf consisting of 12 holes per round.

Willie Park beat Tom Morris to become champion. All the named winners on the plaque were local Musselburgh born. Bob Ferguson had a shot named the “Musselburgh Iron” using his putter from of the green.

Willie Park Snr.

First Open Golf Championship

Willie Park Snr, 1833-1903 was the winner of the first Open Golf Championship and a further three Open Golf Championships lived and died in Musselburgh at No 23 Ravensheugh where the plaque has been erected in his honour. 

No 23 Ravensheugh Musselburgh.JPG
Willie Park Snr. Musselburgh Open Golf C

First US Open Golf Champion

This plaque also honours two further great Musselburgh golfers. Willie Dunn Jnr First unofficial U.S Open Champion and Willie Campbell was runner-up He became the first Golf professional at Brookline County Club in Massachusetts USA.

First U.S. Open Champion Musselburgh Eas

Willie Campbell Professional Golfer

Willie Campbell was a Scottish professional golfer. He emigrated to America in 1894. He finished in sixth place in the first

US Open Championship held on Friday, 4 October 1895 at Newport Golf Club in Newport, Rhode Island, America.

Willie Dunn Jnr

Willie Dunn Jnr son of a club and ball maker, started work at 13 as an apprentice club maker to his brother Tom. Willie Dunn  first match was against Ben Sayers at age 15, also his first success. After taking part in the Open championship in 1883-84 and 86  he joined his brother in France at the Biarritz golf club which his brother designed and worked at. Willie Dunn Jnr. remained at Biarritz for around six years. He later moved to the US where he designed golf courses and took park in the first unofficial US Open played at Southampton Long Island New York which he won. The first official US Open was played the next year 1895 in Newport, Rhode Island, where Willie Dunn was second to Horace Rawlins.

Hay-Weights Clock

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The Hay-weights clock stood on top of a kiosk on the corner of the road where the Brunton Halls now stands, a landmark known by all which marked the site of the municipal weighbridge. The clock faces are now at the gazebo on Mall Avenue and the original clock workings are in the clock at Eskmills.

Eskmills Musselburgh

Colonel James Paterson Inventor 1821

The original mills were where fishing nets were made by the inventor of a machine for tying knots for the manufacture of fishing nets. This mill became the number one net producer in the world.

Stuart House

Stuart House is the man building in Eskmills built in 1867 which was where the spinning and weaving was carried out. Archibald Hope was one of two brothers who owned Eskmills. Stuart House is named after the land owner Sir Archibald Hope a wealthy merchant and coal colliery owner.

 

The Clock is powered by the mechanism previously from the Hay-weights Clock a previous Musselburgh icon.

The weighbridge is in courtyard outside the dispatch warehouse.

The restaurant that is in the Eskmills courtyard was originally built as offices for the Stuart brothers the original building was renovated into the present building with a new dome.

Old Engine house built 1857

Archibald Hope House

Eskmills

Stuart House

Eskmills

Archibald Hope House Eskmills Musselburg

North House

Eskmills

North House Eskmills Musselburgh East Lothian
Stuart House EskMills Musselburgh East L

Stuart Offices

Eskmills

Stuart Brother Offices Esk Mills Musselburgh East Lothian

Clock Tower

Eskmills

Clock Tower Stuart House Eskmills Mussel

Adam Ferguson House

Eskmills

Adam Ferguson House Eskmills Musselburgh

Fishing Net Machine Inventor

Musselburgh

East Lothian

Col James Paterson a local man of Musselburgh returned home circa 1810 and invented a machine capable of tying knots in fishing nets in 1812. On James Paterson’s death his company and patent were bought by J.W. Stewart in 1849 who established a new factory at Esk net mill Musselburgh. The company became the number one manufacturer of nets in the world with over 800 workers and worldwide sales. With the introduction of man-made fibres and new technology the factory declined and closed in 1979 The company was purchased and is now situated in Eyemouth.   

Fishing nets and lobstor pots Fisherrow MusselburghJPG

Musselburgh Museum East Lothian

The Musselburgh Museum  tells the story of the area since it was formed as a settlement over 1000 years ago based tt the estuary of the River esk and Firth of Forth.   

 
Musselburgh Museum High Street Musselburgh EEast Lothian

Electric Bridge 

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The Electric Bridge was built by the Cockenzie power Station to enable the turbines to be transported without using the high street and crossing the bridge which would not hold their weight The electric bridge only opens on Musselburgh race-days as the town council refused to buy the bridge from Cockenzie power station.  The power station previously an icon on the River Forth due to twin its chimneys, was demolished in 2015.

Electric Bridge Musselburgh East Lothian
Cockenzie Power Station

Brunton Theatre

Musselburgh

East Lothian

Musselburgh was bequeathed more than ½ million pounds in 1951 from the estate of John D Brunton, the son of the founder of Brunton Wire Works to provide halls and other municipal buildings’ which was constructed between 1964 and 1970 known as The Brunton Halls. The Brunton Theatre and Halls in Musselburgh, is the community hub of Musselburgh where many activities take place. It is also available to hire for private and corporate functions weddings and conferences. Within 20 minutes of Edinburgh by taxi and 10 minutes by train it is perfectly positioned. The Queen Mother opened the building 1971.

Brunton Theatre Musselburgh East Lothian

Fisherrow Harbour 

Musselburgh

East Lothian

Evidence of the existence of a harbour here circa 1600 with many boats listed in the 1620s working from here. However it is said the first harbour was positioned at the mouth of the River Esk remembering the shore line circa 1500 was 500 yards inland from its present position. Rebuilding took place in 1806 and 1850. 

Fisherrow Harbour Musselburgh.JPG

Newhailes House 

Palladian Villa

Musselburgh

Sir Alexander Seton, Viscount Kingston, heirs sold the lands of Hailes which included the then ruined castle to David Dalrymple in 1700. David Dalrymple (Lord Hailes) purchased the Whitehill estate in 1709. The house was originally built by James Smith architect in 1686. The house was renamed New Hailes after Hailes Castle. David Dalrymple was the fifth and youngest son of James Dalrymple, 1st Viscount of Stair. New Hailes House was famous for its library quote by Dr Johnson “the most learned room in Europe.” The House remained in the Dalrymple family until Lady Antonia Dalrymple sold it to The National Trust in 1996.

 
Newhailes House Musselburgh East Lothian

Newhailes Estate

Nature Walk

Newhailes House Musselburgh

Newhailes house estate and woods has a nature trail with the Brunstane Burn and a number of attractions throughout the woodlands and grasslands.

Nature trail New Hailes House Woods Musselburgh East Lothian

Earl of Stair's Obelisk

Newhailes House Musselburgh

On your walk through the estate nature trail lookout for the Earl of Stair's Obelisk a historic monument dates 1746.

There are inscriptions on all four sides which read; 

Stair's Obelisk Newhailes house Musselburgh East Lothain
Stair's Obelisk Inscription, Newhailes House woods, Musselburgh East Lothian
Stair's Obelisk Newhailes house Musselburgh East Lothain

Sir John Dalrymple

Earl of Stair's Obelisk

Newhailes House Musselburgh

The Earl of Stair's Obelisk stands in Newhailes House Gardens. The Stair's Obelisk has inscriptions on all sides.  The translations are bracketed.   

MDCCXLIII (1743) DE TINCEN (NO DIPPING)  |HIS STONE WAS RENEWED FOR PRESERVATION BY THE RIGHT HON SIR CHARLES DALRYMPLE BART. AD 1907 | LICUISSET (ALLOWED).

JOANNI (SIR JOHN) COMITI DE STAIR (EARL OF STAIR) DE PATRIA ET PRINCIPE (THE HOMELAND AND PRINCIPLE) OPTIME MERITO (SECOND MERIT) VIVENTI (LIVING) POSITUM (POST) MDCCXLVI 1746

 

MDCCXV (1715) INSIGNI DILIGENTIA (REMARKABLE DILIGENCE) ET (AND) SUMMA APUD PRO REGEM (SUPREME AS KING) GALLIAE (IN FRANCE) CONCILIATA GRATIA (GRACE WON THE ENEMY)

SPE ET CONSILIO FRUSTRAVIT (HOPE AND PLANNING POINTLESS)

MDCCXX (1720) PRUBA PERTINACIA (PRUBA DEFIANCE) CALPE (GIBRALTAR) SERVATA (OBSERVING)

CUM (THE) PORTU MAGONIS (GRAND PORT)

Newhailes Summerhouse

Newhailes House Musselburgh

The summerhouse was built circa 1750

Newhailes Curling Pond

Newhailes House Musselburgh

The Curling Pool is not visible but is a metre underground It was used by the Viscount and family in the winter. Picture from info board National Trust of Scotland

Newhailes House Curling Pool Musselburgh
Curling Pool site Newhailes House Musselburgh East Lothian

Newhailes Shell Grotto

Newhailes House Musselburgh

Newhailes House Shell Grotto completed in 1774

Grottos were secluded places designed to evoke reflection on the cycle of life and death.

The Grotto was covered in shells from as far as the East Indies.

Shell Grotto Newhailes House Nature Trail Musselburgh East Lothian

Newhailes Do’cot

Newhailes House Musselburgh

Newhailes House Do'cot was where the family would get fresh meat. This was a feature of all large wealthy households. Pigeons would nest inside upto 1000 and the gamekeeper would take the young birds for the kitchen of the main house. 

Do'cot Newhailes House Musselburgh East Lothian House Musselburgh East lothian

Newhailes House Children’s Activity Area

Newhailes House Musselburgh

Newhailes House Children's Play area swings, climbing, shutes, roundabout, zipwire, great for all ages.

Pinkie House Musselburgh

Sir Alexander Seton born in Seton 1555 son of 7th Lord Seton purchased Pinkie House in 1593 after becoming Lord President of the Court of Session. The house was a ruin after the battle of Pinkie Cleuch 1547. He rebuilt the former mansion which had also been a hospital into what can be seen today one of very few residences that have been unspoiled. Pinkie house was a place that the young prince Charles later to be Charles I spent much of his childhood. The House changed hands through the years until 1951 when it became the property of Loretto School.  The fountain was built circa 1607 which stands outside the main door to Pinkie House, possibly to commemorate his marriage to Margaret Hay. The oldest part of Pinkie house that remained from before it part destruction in 1547 is the main tower circa 1130 built by the Abbots of Dunfermline.

Pinkie House Musselburgh East Lothian

Pinkie House Doo’cot

Musselburgh

East Lothian

The Pinkie Do’cot built by the Alexander Seton after his marriage to Margaret Hay with the initials on a stone tablet and date unreadable the letters AS MH intertwined. With a crown above. The other tablet has one of three crescents

(the crest of the Seton family) topped by a crown.

 

Musselburgh Lagoons

East Lothian

In 1964 the electricity board built a sea wall on the east side at the mouth of the Esk River which formed four lagoons.

The area was used by Cockenzie Power Station to dump fly-ash. The area soon became a habitat for many birds and wildlife. You will find many species of sea birds who have adopted the area for nesting.

Two of the four lagoons have been filled and one has been formed into a series of scrapes and high tide roost that are part of a nature reserve. They give great views for ornithologists throughout the year. The uniqueness of the area attracts many species of bird with a list at over 220 difference species.  

Musselburgh Lagoons is now rated as one of the top site in Britain. The final lagoon attracts fewer birds and the freshwater pond also attracts ducks and other species that are attracted to freshwater.  This is most definitely a site that all true birders should visit both in summer and winter.

Musselburgh Beaches

East Lothian

Musselburgh has two beaches one is at the westside of the harbour and the other at the east side. 

Musselburgh West Beach East Lothian.jpg

Musselburgh BMX Track

East Lothian

BMX track can be found at the end of Balcarres Road at the side of the racecourse in Musselburgh.

BMX  Bike Track Musselburgh East Lothian
BMX bike track Musselburgh East Lothian

The Bass Rock North Berwick One of the natural wonders of the modern world with a lighthouse and ruined Castle

The white in the photo are birds nesting.

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Bass Rock East Lothian