A QUIET corner of the Lammermuirs was transformed forever 50 years ago this month when, with the single turn of a valve, the floodgates opened to create a reservoir on top of a small school and farmland.

Whiteadder Reservoir was opened to meet growing demand for water supplies in the county and, most importantly, to provide the 650,000 gallons which would be required for the new Cockenzie Power Station.

The dam forming the reservoir took four years to construct and was created with the help of civil engineers GH Hill & Sons of Manchester and London, on behalf of East Lothian Water Board.

The official opening was overseen by the chairman of the water board William Anderson, from Ormiston, and was his final ceremony in the role.

The development of the reservoir, which lies five miles south-east of Garvald, cost £1.5million.

It flooded the valley to a depth of 60ft and would be able to supply 9.25 million gallons of water daily once up and running.

It also ended the life of a school described as the most remote in the county when it consigned Kingside School to a watery end.

The land which vanished underwater had been home to Millknowe Farm houses and the local school.

Kingside School opened in 1892 when a shepherd’s cottage was given as a teacher’s house and the byre turned into the schoolhouse and served the children of families from surrounding hill farms.

In its 76 years it taught more than 200 children, and four of its five former pupils who served in the Second World War were decorated or mentioned in dispatches.

During the war, residents of Millknowe and Gameshiel, along with outlying residents of Innerwick parish and Whittingehame, met at the school to collect ration books.

In the 1930s the building was refurbished into a more modern schoolhouse for that time and in 1953 a Local Plan reported it was structurally sound and able to take up to 40 pupils.

By the time the reservoir came, improvements to local transport meant the school was no longer needed but it remained open until 1968, closing just days before the flooding began.

The Haddingtonshire Courier, in its look back on 1968, reflected on the loss of the school and paid special tribute to its “plump, cheerful” teacher, Mrs Jessie Gilchrist.

The Courier said: “The loss of the school, which was the most remote in the county, ended almost 30 years of wonderful work alongside the children of the lonely farming community by Mrs Jessie Gilchrist.

“Plump, cheerful and ever-ready to listen to every tale of woe, Mrs Gilchrist took everything in her stride, and over the years she had to put up many a child overnight after floods or snow cut off the school, and on one occasion she was snowed up for 14 weeks.

“Mrs Gilchrist’s reply to the question of how she faced the problems attached to her job was: ‘I have no problems. I just let the school run itself and, although there was a strap here when I arrived, I never used it. A gentle clout along the lug is just about as far as I ever had to go. It works wonders’.”