Local author and historian Roy Pugh was born in Dunbar in 1941; he has lived there for more than half his life. Interest in his home town has been uppermost for many years; among his several published books is Swords, Loaves and Fishes: A History of Dunbar (2003) expanded and reprinted in 2015 as A History of Dunbar. Sponsored by Dunbar Trades Association, Roy has undertaken foot tours since 2016, learning more about local history in the process. Roy has teamed up with Jo Waddell from the Dolphin Inn and Curious Edinburgh Tours to preserve the two tours (High Street and Harbour), in app form that will be available from late 2020.
Here follows an extract from Roy’s High Street tour: Dunbar Closes
“Closes have been part of community life from at least the late Middle Ages. Every village, town and city in Europe and the wider world has its closes or alleys; Scotland in general and Dunbar in particular are no exception. Closes were given names by the residents who lived in them, usually that of the principal resident or the profession conducted there. Not surprisingly, the names of closes changed as generations of merchant-traders came and went; those with nameplates today tell only a fraction of their story.
In Dunbar’s early years as a market town from about 1600, street trade was conducted from temporary stalls licensed by the town council. Gradually, stalls were incorporated into the ground floor of tenements, the owners living above their shops. Thus Dunbar’s iconic High Street evolved into what we recognise today. Foot tours of the street offer glimpses of the commercial history of the town, telling us much about not only those who traded over the centuries but also the needs of the inhabitants. Every main or high street is therefore a record in stone, with much to offer the student of social history as well as those who are simply curious about the past!”
(Historic Walk, listing number 45).