Morrison's Haven

(Morison's Haven, Acheson's Haven, Newhaven)

A bay, promenade, former harbour and industrial complex on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, Morrison's Haven is located opposite the Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum in East Lothian, 1¼ miles (2 km) west southwest of Prestonpans and 2 miles (3 km) east northeast of Musselburgh.

King James V gave the monks of Newbattle Abbey permission to build a harbour called Newhaven here in 1526 to allow them to export salt and coal, but also to provide a safe fishing port. The harbour was let to an Alexander Acheson in 1542 and became known as Acheson's Haven. Acheson's (or Aitcheson's) Haven was the location of the oldest recorded Masonic Lodge in the world (no longer extant), with records dating back to 9th January 1599, although masonry certainly predates this time. From c.1622 the harbour became known as Morison's (or later Morrison's) Haven after Alexander Morison, an Edinburgh lawyer, bought the estate of Prestongrange from Robert Ker, 2nd Earl of Lothian.

This was also a centre of industry, with coal hewn and salt produced here as early as the 13th C. Later tiles and bricks were made here, and by the early 17th C. there was a glassworks, thought to be the first in the country and of considerable importance to the early history of glassmaking in Scotland. In 1622, new furnaces were installed by Venetian glassmaker Leonardo Michellini and the glassworks was staffed by fellow Italians. In the 18th C. a pottery works as established here.

Trade was mainly with England, the Netherlands, the Baltic and Scandinavia, and the goods exported included hides, kelp, tallow, woollen cloth, linen, fish and oysters as well as the aforementioned coal and salt, while imports comprised wood, foodstuffs, flax, hemp, hops, tar and lead. The harbour was also noted for its smuggling activity, although this came to an end with the Union of 1707. The sequestration of the Prestongrange estate in 1734 brought a period of decline, but by the end of the 18th century trade had picked up, with pottery transported as far as North America and chemicals for the bleaching industry manufactured in Prestonpans. The Prestongrange Colliery was redeveloped in the 1850s and the harbour had a new lease of life exporting coal. By 1875, a small community with a school had been established and a brick and tile works constructed, connected to the harbour by rail. This industrial activity had come to an end by the 1970s and the Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum was established on the site of the former colliery.

Having fallen into terminal decline by the 1930s, the harbour was infilled with colliery waste in the 1950s and land reclaimed from the sea in association with the building of Cockenzie Power Station. A promenade, park which is popular with dog-walkers and improved coastal defences were developed. The tops of the old harbour walls have been re-exposed in the park and a ruined masonry pier still extends into the sea. Ash from the power station is piped through the area as slurry and deposited in lagoons immediately to the west.

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