Musselburgh (/ˈmʌsəlbərə/; Scots: Musselburrae; Scottish Gaelic: Baile nam Feusgan)[3] is the largest settlement in East Lothian, Scotland, on the coast of the Firth of Forth, 5 miles (8 km) east of Edinburgh city centre. It has a population of 21,100.

Rennie Bridge over the River Esk
Population21,100 (mid-2020 est.)[2]
• Edinburgh5 mi (8 km)
• London329 mi (529 km)
Civil parish
  • Inveresk
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtEH21
Dialling code0131
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°56′31″N 3°03′14″W / 55.942°N 3.054°W / 55.942; -3.054
Musselburgh Tolbooth in the High Street

History edit

The name Musselburgh is Old English in origin, with mussel referring to the shellfish.[note 1] The burgh element appears to derive from burh, in the same way as Edinburgh, before the introduction of formal burghs by David I.[4] Its earliest Anglic name was Eskmuthe (Eskmouth) for its location at the mouth of the River Esk.

Musselburgh was first settled by the Romans in the years following their invasion of Scotland in AD 80. They built a fort a little inland from the mouth of the River Esk, at Inveresk.

They bridged the Esk downstream from the fort, and thus established the line of the main eastern approach to Scotland's capital for most of the next 2,000 years. The bridge built by the Romans outlasted them by many centuries. It was rebuilt on the original Roman foundations some time before 1300, and in 1597 it was rebuilt again, this time with a third arch added on the east side of the river. The Old Bridge is also known as the Roman Bridge and remains in use today by pedestrians. To its north is the New Bridge, designed by John Rennie the Elder and built in 1806. This in turn was considerably widened in 1925.

Musselburgh was made a burgh of barony c.1315 and a burgh of regality in 1562. The town attempted to become a royal burgh in 1632 but this was prevented by opposition from Edinburgh burgesses. Although Edinburgh is now known to have been a burgh by 1125, Musselburgh's antiquity is reflected in the Scots-language traditional rhyme:

Musselburgh was a burgh
When Edinburgh was nane,
And Musselburgh will be a burgh
When Edinburgh's gane.[5]

"Welcome to the Honest Toun"

Musselburgh is known as "The Honest Toun", and celebrates this by the annual election of the Honest Lad and Lass. The town motto "Honestas" dates back to 1332, when the Regent of Scotland, Randolph, Earl of Moray, died in the burgh after a long illness during which he was devotedly cared for by the townsfolk. His successor offered to reward the people for their loyalty but they declined, saying they were only doing their duty. The new regent, the Earl of Mar, was impressed and said they were a set of honest men, hence "Honest Toun".

Archaeological excavations by Headland Archaeology between 2003–04, as part of work to renew the water mains, found that the Medieval town was concentrated on the High Street and that occupation in the North High Street area and Fisherrow only dates to the 16th century or later. The early town was centred on the eastern side of the river Esk.[6]

Stoneyhill House dates from the mid 18th century. The estate of Stoneyhill was formerly owned by Sir William Sharp and later passed to the Earl of Wemyss.[7]

The town and its population grew considerably throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, with major local authority and private housing developments on both the eastern and western outskirts.

The Battle of Pinkie, part of the Rough Wooing between Scotland and England, was fought south of Musselburgh in 1547.

Town Council edit

Prior to the local government reforms of 1975, Musselburgh was a small burgh within the county of Midlothian. As such, it elected a town council responsible for a number of areas of local governance, including housing, lighting and street cleaning and drainage. Midlothian County Council was responsible for other areas, including education. The town council met at the Musselburgh Tolbooth and later, for a short period before its abolition, at the Brunton Hall. The town's civic head and chairman of the council was the provost and there were three bailies and a treasurer.[8]

Provost[9] Party Term
David Lowe Independent 1928-37
John Henry Paton Independent 1937-40
Thomas White Labour 1940-45
Daniel Feeney Labour 1946-49
Robert Hunter Labour 1949-56
Joseph H. F. Reid Moderate 1956-57
James Lannan Labour 1957-60
Peter Hamilton Labour 1960-63
Robert Arthur Labour 1963-66
Thomas White Labour 1966-69
William Caird Ratepayers 1969-72
Jessie B. Burns Labour 1972-75

After the local government reforms of 1975, Musselburgh was transferred to the East Lothian district of the new Lothian region, and subsequently became part of the East Lothian unitary council area in 1996.[10]

Demography edit

Population edit

As of the mid-2016 estimate, Musselburgh has a population of 21,100. At the 2011 census, the population was 19,159 and 93% of residents were born in the United Kingdom.

Country of Birth (2011)[11]
Country Number %
United Kingdom (total) 17,897 93.4%
Scotland 16,405 85.6%
England 1,295 6.8%
Other countries 589 3.1%
Other EU: Accession countries April 2001 to March 2011 345 1.8%
Other EU: Member countries in March 2001 232 1.2%
Northern Ireland 131 0.7%
Ireland 96 0.5%
Wales 66 0.3%

Religion edit

At the 2011 Census, 52% of Musselburgh residents stated they belonged to a religion, with 51% being Christians,[12] and there are several churches catering to different denominations.

Religion (2011)[12]
Religion Number %
Christian (total) 9,666 50.5%
No religion 7,936 41.4%
Church of Scotland 6,360 33.2%
Roman Catholic 2,197 11.5%
Religion not stated 1,237 6.5%
Other Christian 1,109 5.8%
Muslim 128 0.7%
Other religion 65 0.3%
Buddhist 49 0.3%
Sikh 33 0.2%
Hindu 31 0.2%
Jewish 14 0.1%

Church of Scotland edit

There are three Church of Scotland ecclesiastical parishes in Musselburgh, each with its own church:[13]

Roman Catholicism edit

There is one Roman Catholic congregation which worships at Our Lady of Loretto and St Michael Catholic Church.

Scottish Episcopal Church edit

There is one Scottish Episcopal congregation which worships at St Peter's Church.

Other Churches edit

  • Harbour Church
  • Hope Church
  • Musselburgh Baptist Church
  • Musselburgh Congregational Church

Education edit

Schools include Loretto School, a private boarding school, and Musselburgh Grammar School, the local large comprehensive that is one of the oldest grammar schools in the country, dating from 1608. Primary schools include: Campie Primary School, Musselburgh Burgh Primary School, Stoneyhill Primary School, Pinkie St Peter's Primary School, Loretto RC Primary School and Loretto Nippers (private). Early learning locations (ages 3–5) include The Burgh, Stoneyhill, Loretto RC, and St. Ninian's. There are also several private nurseries for pre school aged children.

Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University has relocated all its schools from Edinburgh to Musselburgh as of 2007. Her Majesty The Queen officially opened the QMU campus in July 2008.

Transport edit

Musselburgh from the air (winter)
Musselburgh from the air (summer)

Railway edit

Musselburgh is served by two railway stations. Musselburgh railway station is in the west of the town adjacent to Queen Margaret University and has regular ScotRail services from Edinburgh Waverley to North Berwick. It is a relatively new station, having opened in 1988. The other station serving the town is Wallyford railway station to the east of the town in the village of Wallyford, which opened in 1994.

The town's original station was close to the town centre at the end of a short branch from Newhailes Junction. Passenger services from there ceased in 1964, and the line closed to all traffic in the early 1970s. The former railway line is now a road bypassing the Fisherrow area of the town. There was also a station at Fisherrow.

Bus edit

The town is served by Lothian Buses, East Coast Buses and Prentice Coaches Ltd.[14]

Roads edit

The A1 by-passes the town and meets the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass at the edge of the town before continuing to Edinburgh city centre. The A199 goes through the High Street to Edinburgh in the west and to Dunbar to the east. This was originally the A1 until the town's bypass was built in the mid-1980s.

Sport edit

The Musselburgh Silver Arrow is reputed to be the oldest sporting trophy in United Kingdom,[15] and is competed for annually by the Royal Company of Archers. It dates back to at least 1603.[16]

Musselburgh is home to both Musselburgh Racecourse and Musselburgh Links golf course. The links, a former venue of golf's Open Championship, have recently been acknowledged as the oldest continuously played golf course in the world.[17] Musselburgh Athletic F.C. are the town's football team, competing in the East of Scotland League at their Olivebank Park ground in the west of the town. Musselburgh also boast some of the best grassroots teams for young players, such as the Musselburgh Windsor and the Musselburgh Youngstars. Musselburgh RFC play in the Scottish Premiership at Stoneyhill.

The Musselburgh Roads Cycling Club was formed in January 1936 by a breakaway group of 16 from the Musselburgh Clarion. After forming an alliance with other clubs during the war, the MRCC reformed again in its own right in January 1945. The club has a long and successful history of competitive cycling. Notable riders include: Jock Allison, who in 1945 won the British Best All Rounder title and is to date still the only Scottish club rider to do so; Janet Sutherland, who dominated Scottish woman's cycling in 1951–4; and Sandy Gilchrist, who in 1977 won 5 individual and 4 team Scottish Championships. Many other riders from the club have won national championships or have been selected to compete at world championship level or the Commonwealth Games. Today, club members take part in track racing, road racing, time trials, cyclo cross and mountain biking. Their base is at the Tolbooth in the High Street.

There is also a locally run darts league, the Musselburgh and District Darts League, comprising an A and B league, each containing eight teams. Many players from this league represent the Lothian team at county level.

In Musselburgh there is also an amateur swimming club called Musselburgh Amateur Swimming Club. The club is home to the Musselburgh Marlins and trains at Musselburgh Sports Centre. The members of the club vary in ages from 6 all the way up to adults. The club is very inclusive in the community and was first established in 1886 and in its current format in 1994 where they trained at Loretto Swimming Pool which is now closed.

The East Lothian Seagulls of the Scottish Floorball League are based in Musselburgh and train and play matches at the sports centre at Queen Margaret University.

Notable people edit

Seal of Musselburgh[18]
Seal of Musselburgh[19]
  • James Martin, best known for his role as Eric in Still Game. Although not from Musselburgh originally, he has lived in the county since 1974.
Writers and artists

Areas edit

Fisherrow, Inveresk, Levenhall Links, Pinkie, Stoneyhill, Clayknowes, Denholm, Stoneybank, Queen Margaret University Student Village, Monktonhall, Pinkie Braes

Twin towns edit

Musselburgh is twinned with:[20]

"Champigny was already twinned with Rosignano, so a three-way link was considered advantageous."[20]

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Musselburgh was famous for the mussel beds which grew in the Firth of Forth; after many years of claims that the mussels were unsafe for consumption, a movement has been started to reestablish the mussel beds as a commercial venture.

Citations edit

  1. ^ "Map of Scotland in Scots - Guide and gazetteer" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Musseburgh". National Place-Names Gazetteer. Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  4. ^ "The early history of Scotland and meanings of the clan names and place-names appearing on the Clan Map of Scotland". Archived from the original on 17 May 2006.
  5. ^ Ayton, John; Crofton, Ian (2005). Brewer's Britain & Ireland. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 787.
  6. ^ "Vol 30 (2009): Archaeological monitoring in the streets of Musselburgh: recent discoveries | Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports". Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Stonehouse - Stromness Pages 500-519 A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland". British History Online. S Lewis, London 1846. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  8. ^ "Scran Web Site". Scran. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  9. ^ "Scran Web Site". Scran. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  10. ^ See also Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website Archived 1 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine (OPSI home page Archived 18 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine)
  11. ^ "Scotland's Census 2011 - Table KS204SC - Country of birth".
  12. ^ a b "Scotland's Census 2011 (Table KS209SCb - Religion)".
  13. ^ Church of Scotland Statistics for Mission Group
  14. ^ "Timetables - Prentice of Haddington".
  15. ^ Hugo Arnot, The History of Edinburgh, from the earliest accounts, to the year 1780, Edinburgh, 1816
  16. ^ "Musselburgh". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006.
  17. ^ Groome 1895, p. 88.
  18. ^ Lewis 1846, p. 294.
  19. ^ a b "East Lothian Council: Town Twinning". Retrieved 14 April 2020.

Sources edit

  • Carlyle, Alexander (1791). "Parish of Inveresk". The statistical account of Scotland. Drawn up from the communications of the ministers of the different parishes. Vol. 16. Edinburgh: W. Creech. pp. 1–19. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Musselburgh". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Groome, Francis, Hindes (1882). "Inveresk". Ordnance gazetteer of Scotland : a survey of Scottish topography, statistical, biographical, and historical. Vol. 2. Edinburgh: T.C. Jack. pp. 296-297. Retrieved 6 June 2020.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Groome, Francis, Hindes (1895). "Musselburgh". Ordnance gazetteer of Scotland : a survey of Scottish topography, statistical, biographical, and historical. Vol. 5. Edinburgh: T.C. Jack. pp. 85-89. Retrieved 6 June 2020.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Hannah, Ian Campbell (1913). "Eskdale". The Berwick and Lothian coasts. London: T.F. Unwin. pp. 179–200. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  • Lewis, Samuel (1851). "Inveresk". A topographical dictionary of Scotland, comprising the several counties, islands, cities, burgh and market towns, parishes, and principal villages, with historical and statistical descriptions: embellished with engravings of the seals and arms of the different burghs and universities. Vol. 1. London: S. Lewis and co. pp. 586-587. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  • Lewis, Samuel (1846). "Musselburgh". A topographical dictionary of Scotland, comprising the several counties, islands, cities, burgh and market towns, parishes, and principal villages, with historical and statistical descriptions: embellished with engravings of the seals and arms of the different burghs and universities. Vol. 2. London: S. Lewis and co. pp. 294-296. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  • Moodie, Leslie; Beveridge, J. G. (1845). "Parish of Inveresk". The new statistical account of Scotland. [electronic resource]. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. pp. 246–304. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  • Paterson, James (1857). History of the Regality of Musselburgh : with numerous extracts from the town records. Musselburgh: J. Gordon. pp. 1–253. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  • Scott, Hew (1915). Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae; the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the reformation. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. pp. 324–328. Retrieved 27 February 2019.

External links edit