A to Z of Musselburgh

2020 saw our lives change in many ways we never thought possible. The Corona Virus Pandemic meant social distancing from family and friends, travel cancellations and being confined to our homes for over 3 months.

Being allowed out for daily exercise I started to look at things a little closer to home. Looking around the town I love so much opened my eyes a little bit further to the wealth of heritage we have right on our doorstep.

The A to Z of Musselburgh was born……and I’ve loved it, I hope you do too.


A – Ambassador’s House

Reputed to be the oldest building in Musselburgh, this 16th Century, around 1550 (B Listed Building) has been vastly altered over the years.

A – Archer

The statue itself was designed by Svetlana Kondakova and Maja Quille, He represents several key periods of Musselburgh history.

1. Represents the Roman occupation of the area during 80AD
2. Symbolic of the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh 1547
3. Represents the Musselburgh Silver Arrow competition and trophy. Thought to be the oldest sporting trophy in the world still played for.

B – Brunton Hall
The name derives from John D. Brunton, son of John Brunton, the founder of the Brunton Wireworks. He died in 1951 and left a bequest of £700,000 to the people of Musselburgh for the purpose of creating a community hall. Opened in 1971 by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

C – Carberry Tower
Carberry has a vast history dating back to Mary Queen of Scots in 1567 who faced an army assembled by a confederation of her lords. She quickly surrendered and was then imprisoned. A monument, the Queen’s Mount, still stands nearby commemorating the incident.

D – Dovecote
It dates from c 1607, when the marriage of Alexander Seton (who built Pinkie House) and Margaret Hay took place. This is commemorated, with a panel above each door with their initials AS and MH.

E – Edenhall
formally Pinkie Burn House.

Built in 1826 as the home of the Lindsay family. It became the first Manse for the minister Rev John Watson of the Congregational Union of Scotland when he married the daughter of the Lindsay family. In 1915 the last member of the Lindsay family died and Pinkieburn House was gifted to the Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross. Local Edinburgh firm James Jerdan and Son carried out extensions in 1918-1920 for conversion to hospital use. In 1921 the building was opened as a hospital for disabled ex-servicemen. Now mainly derelict and awaiting sale for housing most likely.

F – Fisherrow
I struggled to find the right thing that symbolised Fisherrow. Is it the Harbour? is it the back sands? I’m sure its different for everyone. I picked this shot as this feels, for me, where begins.

G – Golf
We are lucky enough to have 2 golf courses in Musselburgh
1. Musselburgh Old Course is the oldest continually played golf course in the world. Golf has been played on Musselburgh Old Course since 1567 when reputedly Mary Queen of Scots played here

2. The Musselburgh (Monktonhall) Golf Club. Established 1938, the first on ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’

H – Harbour
There has been fishing at Fisherrow and Musselburgh since Roman times, and the present 17th-century harbour is very close to the Roman harbour at the mouth of the River Esk. The harbour was once home to a large fishing fleet but now mostly pleasure craft from the local Yacht Club.
For more Info: https://canmore.org.uk/…/53805/musselburgh-fisherrow-harbour

I – Inveresk
There has been a church on the site since the 6th century. The present church was built in 1805. The interior was re-orientated and remodelled in 1893 and again in 2002. Known as the ‘Visible Kirk’ because of its prominent position, it stands on the site of a Roman praetorium and replaces a medieval church. Some excellent stained glass & magnificent Lewis pipe organ (1892).

J – Jooglie Brig
The ‘new’ Jooglie Brig is a little upstream from the original bridge. This bridge replaced the original Jooglie Brig sometime around the First World War. The original bridge was named because it shoogled and as a pun on Jubilee. There was a Jubilee Bridge built in Musselburgh in 1887 at New Street/Goosegreen for Victoria’s Golden Jubilee on the former site of a wooden railway bridge which was used to transport coal to Fisherrow Harbour.

K – Kerr’s Wynd
James Hay’s New Plan of Musselburgh 1824, depicts a Sea Mill at the junction of Mill Hill and what was then called Mill Wynd, now Kerr’s Wynd, to the NW of the mill lade. On the 1853 OS town plan of Musselburgh the Sea Mill is shown “Sea Mill Corn & Flour”.

L – Lagoons aka Levenhall Links
Formed from land reclaimed from the sea by building a sea wall and pumping large amounts of pulverised fuel ash into a number of ash lagoons from Cockenzie Power Station. The area has been partially restored and landscaped, shallow pools for wading birds have been created, and the area has become a popular site for birdwatchers. Two areas of Levenhall Links have been designated as part of the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area.

L – Lagoons aka Levenhall Links

M – Mussel
Memory & Reflection

Sculptor Michael Johnson has created The Mussel, a 12 feet high stainless steel sculpture, of a mussel shell. Michael explains: “The outer shell of the sculpture depicts aspects of Musselburgh’s history, images of agriculture, people, connections to the sea, the river, the Romans. The inner face of the sculpture is mirror polished and reflects whatever stands before it, yourself, the sky and sea. These two aspects of the shell, the Memory of place and the Reflection, I see as strong metaphors for a work which interprets the history of the town and also considers our relationship with the sea and land.”

N – Newhailes House
The house was originally built c.1686 on the Whitehill estate by Scottish architect James Smith. While studying to become a priest in Rome, Smith was inspired by the work of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Instead of becoming a priest, Smith became an architect.
In 1997, Newhailes house was given to the National Trust for Scotland by Lady Antonia Dalrymple because the cost of upkeep had become impossible and the house was in danger of falling into disrepair. It was allowed to grow old gracefully through a pioneering conservation policy which does ‘as much as is necessary, but as little as possible’ to keep the house in good order without disturbing its ‘untouched’ atmosphere.
This house has a vast history over this time, too much to include here so please do go and search for more information

O – Olivebank
Home to Musselburgh Athletic F.C. The grounds are currently undergoing some improvements with the introduction of Flood lighting and PA system. Hopefully to welcome their fans back next year. It was marked as Olive Bank in the Hays map of Musselburgh 1824, recently published by the John Grey Centre.

P – Pinkie Pillars
Also known as East Port. Pinkie Pillars were erected in 1770 and would have originally stood closer together. They mark what was the eastern limit of the town. On top of the pillars are urns which bear the burgh arms.
There is some evidence on some of the lower stones which indicate they may have had a previous use as they show some marks thought to be from Roman masons.

P – Pinkie Pillars

Q – Queen Margaret University
Queen Margaret University, formerly Queen Margaret University College and Queen Margaret College, was founded in 1875 and is named after Saint Margaret, wife of King Malcolm III of Scotland. It was granted full University status in January 2007 after finally meeting the criteria.
In 2007-08, the university brought together students from its three campuses in Edinburgh by moving to a new purpose-built campus in Musselburgh.
QMU has been “touted as the country’s greenest University campus”. The campus was designed to exceed current environmental standards and sets a new benchmark in sustainable design. The grounds boast several ponds which are a haven for local birds and wildlife and the local community.

R – Racecourse
Although the first races took place at Musselburgh in 1777 it wasn’t until 1816 when racing moved to the newly laid course in its current location. The Racecourse sits on Common Good Land. It is now the 2nd biggest course in Scotland after Ayr.
The course came into financial difficulties during the 1980s and in 1991 East Lothian Council took over the running of the course. In 1995 substantial investment was made to the course improving the Edwardian Grandstand and building the new hospitality suite, The Queens Stand, opened by Her Majesty the Queen in the same year.

S – Stoneyhill
Stoneyhill has been the home of Musselburgh Rugby Football Club, formed 1921, since around the 1940s, the land at Stoneyhill would have formed the gardens of Stoneyhill House. An 18th century mansion house in the area. Some of the outbuildings which were converted into smaller houses/offices still stand as part of Stoneyhill Steading.

Musselburgh Rigby Club will celebrate its 100th Anniversary in 2021.

S – Station
The current station at Musselburgh was opened in 1988, located near the campus of the Queen Margaret University and forms part of the East Coast Main Line. The previous station in the town was based in the centre of the town, along the side of the River Esk in the car park at the Roman Bridge, in 1847. It closed to passengers in 1964 and goods in 1970.

T – Tollbooth/Town Hall
The tolbooth usually provided a council meeting chamber, a court house and a jail. The A-listed building dates from 1590, replacing an earlier building destroyed by the Earl of Hertford in the 1540s. The clock-tower may be up to a century older, the clock dated 1496. Its thought that the current building is said to have been constructed using stone taken from the former Our Lady of Loretto Chapel, which was demolished after the Reformation. The building comprises three floors, with an extension to the northeast of 1731-33 which contains a courtroom on the upper floor. A three-bay facade was added on the eastern end in 1900-01, with a large hall behind to transform the building into an appropriate town hall for the burgh. The tunnel-vaulted spaces of the lower level have traditionally been used as shops, but today include the Musselburgh Museum (opened 2011).

U – Unicorn
The Unicorn is the official national animal of Scotland and a symbol of purity, innocence and power in Celtic mythology. The unicorn was first introduced to the royal coat of arms of Scotland around the mid-1500s.

Prior to the Union of the Crowns in 1603, our coat of arms was supported by two unicorns. However, when King James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, he replaced one of the unicorns with the national animal of England, the lion, as a display of unity between the two countries.

The current Mercat Cross dates back to the mid 18th century but is symbolic earlier crosses. Its thought the original Mercat Cross may have stood in a slightly different location than it does now as its known to have been moved in around 1774 during demolition works in the area.

V – Volunteer Arms
The whole building including the public house and accommodation to the left of the close and the flat above has been in the ownership of one family from 1858 although its thought that there was a pub on this site before that time and a building as early as the 16th century. Staggs have been providing a fabulous atmosphere in Musselburgh for over 150 years and in the process have won over 10 years of CAMRA awards as Pub of the Year.

W – War Memorial
Originally a drinking fountain, it was gifted to the people of Musselburgh by David Wright a local business man in the 1890s. The fountain fell into disrepair and a local group, The War Memorial Remembrance Association campaigned for a number of years to have this converted into a War Memorial for 214 Musselburgh residents who lost their lives during WWII. Their aim finally achieved in 1999.
The fountain is 1 of 5 War Memorials in Musselburgh
1. Cross at Inveresk
2. Loretto School
3. Crookston Memorial, Inveresk Cemetery
4. Municipal Bowling Club, Fisherrow
5. The Fountain
The Bowling Club is a little known memorial. Following WWII the people of Musselburgh were asked what they wanted as a memorial, they asked for a Bowling Green that could be used by the community.

X – Represents Loretto School

X is a symbol in the town that you will likely pass every day without even really paying attention.
The school was founded by the Reverend Thomas Langhorne in 1827. He named the school for Loretto House, his then home, which was itself named after the medieval chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto which had formerly stood on the site of the school.  The campus occupies 85 acres and owns many properties across the town. The School itself is housed in Pinkie House which dates from the 16th century.

Y – Yacht
The history of sailing yachts begins in Europe in the beginning of the 1600s with the building of a pleasure vessel for the son of King James VI & I. While other monarchs used naval ships for transportation and conquest, James VI was the first British monarch to commission the construction of a yacht, for his son Henry in the early 1600s. Pleasure vessels acquired the name yacht after the time of Charles II, who spent time exiled in Europe and visited the Netherlands, where a variety of jachten were already well developed as pleasure boats.  Upon his restoration to the English crown, Charles commissioned a series of royal yachts, which included at least one experimental catamaran. The first recorded yacht race between two vessels occurred in 1661, followed by the first open sailing competition in 1663 in English waters.

Fisherrow, once home to a fishing fleet is now home to pleasure yachts.

Z – ZOT Engineering
ZOT Engineering was formed in 1975, based in Inveresk Mills Industrial Park, ZOT employs over 200 people. ZOT manufactures sheet metal and electrical components such as PC Circuit boards.
ZOTs manufacturing presence continues on from the vast industrial history of the town. The area of Inveresk Mill Industrial Estate was once home to companies such as Crudens, Bruntons Wire Mill, Stuarts Net Mill and Inveresk Paper Mill. All of which are now gone.