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The following article is one of a few we are publishing under the heading 'Tymes Past'. These will mostly be about events or organisations which are no longer in the village. Articles so far in this series are;
Aberlady Library | A Walk Through Aberlady | J P Reid - A Village Character | Scouting In Aberlady
Aberlady At War | Aberlady & Gullane Railway | Street Names | Football In Aberlady | Aberlady Bowling Club

Watch out for other articles in the future

Aberlady & Gullane Railway

With the opening - in 1850 - of the North Berwick railway branch Line many people no longer had to pass through the coastal villages of Aberlady and Gullane as they could just take the railway straight through to North Berwick, or in the other direction, Edinburgh. There was a bus service between Ballencrieff ( to the South of Aberlady ) and the village and at times between Longniddry and Aberlady and another between Longniddry and Gullane. The opening of a branch line between Longniddry and Haddington also very much affected Aberlady as goods no longer needed to be shipped through Aberlady harbour, instead bypassing the village by rail. What both villages really needed was a more direct transport solution.

This came about with the building of the Gullane branch line. The original idea promoted in 1892 was for a branch line from Longniddry to North Berwick, including Aberlady, Luffness and Gullane. in the end it only ran as far as Gullane due to financial reasons.

In the original plan Aberlady station was to be situated immediately behind the village, close to Aberlady Mains. This later had to be changed as Walter Henry Hope objected to the proposed route of the railway on a number of grounds ( it would have traversed property owned by his family and run close to Luffness House ). The station was therefore sited further South on the site of the present day Aberlady Caravan Park.

On a sunny Friday 1st April 1898 the line opened to the public with the first train leaving Longniddry at 7.10am with a fair number of passengers onboard. Farm workers and others looked on as the train made it's way to Aberlady, where the Station and Station Master's house were festooned with bunting.

The line proved very popular - despite the station being the distance it was from the village - and in 1900 Aberlady Station was used by 14,560 passengers.

Despite his earlier opposition to the line and indeed to golf in the area, when New Luffness Golf Club came to fruition Walter Henry Hope proposed to the North British that a private halt be provided on the line for golfers using the course. This came into being and was called Luffness Platform.

Until the mid 1920s the railway had a virtual monopoly but then two things changed this situation. The first was the General Strike of 1926 and the other was the introduction of a bus service which covered the coastal villages including Aberlady. The population then realised that they no longer had to depend on just the railway for their transport needs.

By 1929 passenger numbers at Aberlady had fallen to 1,168 and by June 1932 this had dropped further to an average of about 10 passengers per week, an unsustainable level. And so on 10th September of that year the last passenger service ran on the line. Despite protests from villagers in both Aberlady and Gullane this service was never reinstated. Goods traffic still used the line but in June 1964 this also ceased.

One very interesting use made of Aberlady Station occurred during World War Two ( WW2 ). When the King was in Edinburgh the Royal Train would be brought to Aberlady during the early hours so that the occupants could relax in quiet and safer surroundings. Locally it was a badly kept secret whenever they were there as the large number of Edinburgh CID in attendance rather gave the game away.

There is now little to show that Aberlady Station ever existed other than the platform which now is part of the present caravan park, and the bridge next to it.

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Aberlady - a Scottish village in East Lothian