THE Longniddry branch of the Royal British Legion has had an £80,000 facelift after leaking pipes caused severe water damage to the premises while it was closed during lockdown.

Committee members had noticed unusually high increases in water charges.

For the year 2018/19, the Legion paid £961 for its water supply, but this jumped considerably to £4,112 the following year.

In March 2020, Russell Devine, the current branch treasurer, received a further two bills, each for £1,200.

Gwen Totten, branch secretary, said: “Myself, Russell and Ross Finney, our social club secretary, decided at the beginning of May 2020 to investigate, as the club was closed and we shouldn’t have been using any water.

“The water meter was whizzing round so we knew we had a problem.

“We then discovered we had an underground channel running through the back bar area, the cellar and into the lounge and the copper pipe was like a teabag leaking water.

“We ended up pumping enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”

Water leaking from corroded copper pipes, installed in 1980, had left the pub’s hallway, lounge, floor and toilets completely soaked.

The club’s insurance company were called and an assessor advised the club to place dehumidifiers to dry out the premises.

The secretary added: “We then discovered that we also had a leak further down the line in the gents’ toilets and this had affected the wall between the ladies’ and gents’, which was soaking wet to 1.5 metres high, so we had to strip both sets of toilets out, add dehumidifiers in them and we were looking at six weeks-plus to dry the place out.

“We installed new pipes overhead so if they are ever to leak again, we will feel the water dripping.”

The company responsible for the pipes paid for new carpets, furniture, decorating and two sets of toilets, while the club was also reimbursed for its £10,000 water bill by their insurers.

Longniddry Legion has a main hall which is used for functions and features a dance floor, dartboards, a pool table and a bar; the lounge room features a seating area and bar.

The committee installed a second 70-inch television in the revamp, giving the pub two different areas for viewing sporting and major televised events.

Gwen said: “All this work was carried out by me as project manager, some of our committee, a few club members and my teenage son!

“We sanded, stripped and repainted the hall for a fresh, modern look.

“Two large pieces of artwork were commissioned and we used poppies and historical quotes to keep with the ethos for Legion Scotland.”

Despite delays with the toilet refurbishment, the branch re-opened on September 5, 2020. . . only to close when Scotland re-entered lockdown on October 9.

The new-look Legion, on Links Road, then re-opened on May 17 of this year and members of the public are now being urged to experience the facilities and support the cause of helping veterans.

Gwen added: “The club has undergone major changes, bringing us into the 21st century, and we have completed this with a move to Tennent’s beers, allowing us to now sell three draft lager, two beers, Guinness, cider and even draught cocktails.

“Anyone is welcome to come and use the club and we hope that people will support us and the good work that the Royal British Legion does to support our veterans.”

The club currently has 251 members but holds an open licence, meaning non-members can also visit the pub.

It is open seven days a week: 5-11pm Monday to Thursday; 5pm-midnight Friday and Saturday; and 5-11pm on Sundays.

“Lockdown had a silver lining in that we were able to do the critical repair work and we now have a fully refurbished club that we are happy to welcome everyone in to enjoy,” added Gwen.