Preston Athletic play at Pennypit Park, Rope Walk, Prestonpans, East Lothian, EH32 9BN.
The history of Pennypit Park
Preston Athletic moved to Pennypit Park in the early 1960’s from their previous ‘home’ of Preston Links Park . The move was forced on the club when the South of Scotland Electricity Board bought the land for the building of Cockenzie Power Station.
The Prestonpans area and the ready supply of coal brought the area one of the first ‘Coal Charters’ granted in 1202, many pits were situated around the town and the current sports complex is situated on one of the oldest.
The story goes that the miners were paid a penny a shift and therefore it became known as ‘The Penny Pit’. When the pit closed all buildings and machinery were removed, the pit shaft filled in and the area was left to nature. Thus quickly becoming a favourite play area for the local children who used the large coal bing left behind for various adventures!! The coal bing was removed in the early fifties and made way for a football pitch with a shale running track surrounding it.
In 1970 Preston Lodge Rugby Club took over the site of the old British Legion on Rope Walk (now a mound of rubble itself) and as a result the Council also provided a rugby pitch alongside the existing football pitch on the east side of the park. Many opposition goalkeepers must have wondered what was happening as 30 rugby players ran past their goal from the changing rooms in the rugby club towards the rugby field.
Very little was improved during the preceding years, some drainage work took place in the early 70’s a pavilion added in 1979 and who can forget the concrete dugouts which faced onto the present rugby stand, the dugouts offered the only shelter available on match days and could get quite crowded, a number of managers also cracked their heads on the thick stone roofs!!!!
In 1990 led by the rugby club a series of meetings were held to try and attract more youth to get involved in local sport and from there the concept of the Pennypit complex was born, the first meeting of the Pennypit Trust took place in June 1991. The idea was simple to create a sports complex that could be used by and benefit the local community offering facilities to those who had ambition in sport but also making access to schools and other groups who did not have such ready access to sporting facilities.
The Pennypit Trust raised over half a million pounds from various grants available including a European Community scheme to support projects in former coal mining areas. Then in late 1992 work started on the complex by local based firm Hart Builders. The football and rugby clubs moved home temporarily to Meadowmill and the Mary Murray parks during the work.
The initial phase was completed in early 1994 and the official opening was presided over by the then Labour leader John Smith on 9th April 1994.