THE first stage of a multi-million-pound heritage project on the outskirts of Prestonpans gets under way on Monday.

Groundworks start next week ahead of the construction of a new engine shed within the former Prestonpans colliery and brickworks.

The new building will be a purpose-built location to house the locomotives, rolling stock and artefacts which are currently in the bathhouse.

Already, East Lothian Council has allocated more than £1.5 million over 2020/21 to 2023/24, with further funding totalling more than £835,000 coming from the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF).

Councillor Colin McGinn, cabinet spokesperson for community wellbeing, welcomed the latest step.

He said: “The construction of the engine shed is the first major part of work on site and kicks off an integrated project to develop a heritage park at Prestongrange Museum.

'Rich industrial heritage'

“This area has a rich industrial heritage and the heritage park will not just acknowledge the industries and developments of the past but also integrate these into both current and future education and action around climate change and environmental impacts.

“The regeneration of Prestongrange is welcomed by the local community and I would like to thank the many supporters of this initiative and the funding bodies for their help in progressing this vision.

“The current visitor centre, operated by East Lothian Council’s Museums Service with the support of community volunteers, receives thousands of visitors annually and the heritage park is expected to increase visitor numbers considerably, providing invaluable opportunities for the local economy, including employment.”

The works to construct the shed are expected to take about 30 weeks and the locomotives, rolling stock and artefacts will be moved in once the shed is finished.

Improvement work has already been completed on the Hoffman kiln chimney, the pit-head winding frame and the lifting beam on the power house.

The next stage, expected to begin early next year, will be the renovation of the existing bath house.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The overall vision of the project is to deliver a new, accessible carbon-neutral community hub, as well as commercial and indoor community education space, primarily within the derelict pit-head baths and outdoors in the surrounding parkland.

“The site will include a multi-purpose activity room, accommodation for local groups, stores, accessible toilets and showers.

“It will also provide development space in support of new revenue generation, education and employment uses, as well as improving access to a nationally important landscape, green network and heritage site.”