AN HISTORIC trust which has been battling for a living history centre in East Lothian for a decade says it has given up on local authority support for the project.

The Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust has been searching for a site to place a permanent visitor centre and house the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry.

But it says it has been left “bitterly disappointed” by the lack of support and help from its local authority.

Now the trust has said it has abandoned hopes of finding a centre with the help of East Lothian Council after 10 years of trying.

In a statement, the trust said: “The trust is bitterly disappointed that 10 years after it originally petitioned East Lothian Council for, and received its promise of, support, that nothing has been achieved to make the living history centre a reality.”

The move comes after members of the trust met with council officials last week to discuss plans for a revamp of Prestongrange Mining Museum in Prestonpans which it hoped would include the centre.

The trust has already invested in plans to convert part of the museum – the old bath house – into a new home for the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry and history centre; however, the proposals were unable to win national lottery funding.

Two years ago, the local authority said it was taking its own plans out for public consultation.

At the end of last month it held a public meeting, attended by members of the trust, where a series of ‘vision documents’ were unveiled.

However, they did not refer to the trust specifically and at a meeting last week the trust claims its calls for the council to sign an agreement to work with it in creating a suitable centre within the plans were rejected.

Now the trust has described the failure to include them in the ‘vision document’ for Prestongrange as the final straw.

It said: “The trust has reluctantly concluded that currently and for the foreseeable future the council has no masterplan for Prestongrange Museum in which its proposal for a living history centre could play a role.

“Furthermore, the council is unwilling to discuss several feasible options on the periphery of the battlefield which it owns and for which there is a masterplan that it commissioned but which it steadfastly declines to adopt.”

The masterplan the trust refers to is one drawn up at a cost of £150,000 for the former Cockenzie Power Station site, which includes potential plots for a history centre but which the council has declined calls to adopt, instead describing it as another ‘vision document’.

It is understood that the trust has already agreed with developers of a new town at Blindwells, which is beginning to get under way, about finding a site there for the centre, and is shifting its attention there for the future.

The council said it had been holding “ongoing constructive discussions” with the trust and continued to work with it over its plans for Prestongrange Museum.

A spokesperson said: “We have a number of partners and groups who have an interest in and commitment to the Prestongrange site.

“We have held positive meetings with the trust to inform and assist their work, most recently culminating in a letter of support for external funding for their project.

“The trust has recently submitted a draft Memorandum of Understanding to the council which is under consideration and we continue to engage positively with them.”

The battle trust is gearing up for a year of celebrations as 2020 marks the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Prestonpans, 300th birthday of Bonnie Prince Charlie and 10th anniversary of the Prestonpans Tapestry.

Dr Gordon Prestoungrange, joint chairman of the trust, said: “Our theme for 2020 is the Cultural Legacy of the Battle over the centuries and in the present day.”