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  East Fortune

   - 185 Squadron

  HMS Seacliff

  North Berwick

 East Lothian’s War

Seacliff House was gutted by fire in 1907, taking the life of the then owner Andrew Laidlaw. During WW1 the Royal Navy established a top-secret research base in the vicinity of the old tower. Known as HMS Scottish Seacliff, it was mainly used for navigation training and U-Boat defence.


Haddingtonshire Western District Committee decided to delay the treatment of the Great North Road and the Coast Road. The feeling was that the operations should be delayed as long as possible because of the stringency in the money market caused by the War. However, important experiments in road marking would be carried out east of Gullane, leading to the closure of the road for a month.


Early in the war, there were sign of heightened anxiety.


In separate incidents, two men were killed by sentries guarding important installations. In the first, a cycle mechanic, named Robert Scott, was challenged by a Territorial sentry at  Blawearie. When challenged, instead of answering, he rode away, and was instantly shot.


In the second incident, Coastguard John McLeod was mistaken for an enemy agent and bayoneted by a sentry at the National Reserve at Seacliff War Signal Station. His funeral took place at North Berwick when his coffin, wrapped in the Union Jack, was conveyed from the Coastguard Station, escorted by a party the 10th Royal Scots, who also provided the firing party and guard of honour. In addition to relatives and naval representatives, the funeral was attended by the Provost, Magistrates, and Council of North Berwick, members of the Parish Council, and very large number of the general public.  


Arthur Balfour, who was staying at Whittingehame, promised to deliver a farewell address to 600 of the Territorials in East Lothian who would shortly be going to the front. The speech would be delivered at Haddington, in either the Town Hall or the Corn Exchange.


Hundreds of fishermen at East Coast ports thrown idle by the war were able to secure temporary employment, many at the potato harvest, and others formed crews engaged in mine sweeping over the Firth of Forth.

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Whittinghame House.

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