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The Battle of Prestonpans 1745

Before the Battle 1745 cleaned

The Tranent-Cockenzie 1722 Waggonway

The Battle of Prestonpans was fought in an early industrial landscape. There were coal-pits dotted around the site, busy harbours, and a thriving salt panning industry. Connecting the coal-hungry pans at Cockenzie with the mining activity in Tranent was a wooden waggonway which was laid down in 1722. It was probably Scotland's first railway line. The rails were replaced in iron around 1815, and although long out of service evidence of this historic waggonway can still be found today. Much of the route is preserved as a pathway, cutting directly through the battlefield (right). Both the redcoats and Jacobites crossed it during the course of the battle. In Cockenzie Harbour, the settings for the rails can still be found, and there is now a community-based waggonway heritage group working to preserve and promote this important feature of the local history. Find out more about their work at their website and their mini-museum:

Below is an illustration by Alan Braby, imagining waggonway workers chatting to the redcoat soldiers on the 20th September 1745.

28. The Waggonway heading north across the plain.