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The local area guide to living in Prestonpans

Sitting between Port Seton and Musselburgh on the southeast coast of the Firth of Forth, Prestonpans is a small town with a long past. The town was founded in the 11th century and the name is believed to have arrived with the monks of Newbattle and Holyrude who constructed large pans in the river to make salt from seawater. The town grew as an industrial base and during the 1700s it was the home of the first ever factory to produce sulphuric acid, as well as many potteries that produced ceramics made from Cornish clay. Prestonpans is probably most well known for being the site of a battle between the Jacobites and Hanoverians, a tale that has entered Scottish myth and legend.

In the 21st century there is no industry operating in the town, but it is still a fascinating place with plenty of community spirit. Prestonpans has been significantly developed in the last decade and many new houses have been constructed on the greenbelt area surrounding the town. Prestonpans is popular with commuters to Edinburgh, as it is only a half hour drive away on the A1.

Information about the local residents

Prestonpans had a population of 7,153 at the 2001 count, but more people have made their homes in the area since thanks to the major redevelopment of the area. Within the population of the town, 39% of people are employed, whilst 16% are employed. 7% of residents are educated to degree level or above, and 48% have no formal qualifications. The wholesale and retail trade are the largest employment sectors in Prestonpans, followed by real estate, and social work.

Nearby schools

Prestonpans has two primary schools: Cockenzie Primary School and Prestonpans Primary School. Cockenzie was viewed positively by the HMIE and lauded for giving students a ‘positive learning experience’, whilst students at Prestonpans have a lower attainment in English and maths than the national average, though this is improving. The local secondary school, Preston Lodge High School, serves the areas of Prestonpans, Port Seton, Cockenzie and Longniddry, and was praised by the HMIE for motivating young people and helping them to develop confidence in their learning.

Getting around

The town is located directly on the A1, which runs to Newcastle in the south east and Edinburgh a distance to the west. The closest motorway junctions to Prestonpans are the M8 and M9, which can be picked up to the west of Edinburgh. The town has a decent bus service that links it to surrounding villages and towns, and there is a very regular bus into Edinburgh, which takes 39 minutes. Prestonpans railway station is on the North Berwick Line and is a 20-minute journey from Edinburgh Waverley. There is a service every 30 minutes running between North Berwick and Edinburgh.

Local shops

Prestonpans sits directly on the edge of the Firth of Forth and is rightfully proud of its impressive historic architecture. The Preston Cross, which dates from 1617, is hailed as Scotland’s most beautiful market cross and, unusually, still stands where it was originally built, though it is now ringed by 1970s bungalows. The impressive Preston Tower was once the home of the Hamiltons of Preston, and its beautiful gardens have been restored to reflect how it would have looked in its heyday. Prestonpans proud industrial past is celebrated at the Industrial Museum, which pays tribute to the town’s coal mining past and other manufacturing achievements.

Prestonpans has a small number of shops for everyday basic needs, including a Lidl and an Asda, though a visit to nearby Edinburgh or Berwick will be necessary for a more dedicated shopping trip. The town has three pubs with good local crowds, and the usual selection of takeaways.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.


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