A tale of two Lintons

THERE’S almost no difference at all, when it comes to the population sizes of the villages, East Linton and West Linton.

According to estimates from 2020 (here – they will be more accurate when the latest census figures are released*), East Linton, in East Lothian, comes in at 1,790: just 130 shy of its Scottish Borders’ near namesake.

The two villages have several other things in common, both being about ten miles distant from much bigger conurbations (Dunbar, Haddington and North Berwick in the case of East Linton; Biggar, Peebles and Penicuik in the case of West Linton).

East Linton is 24 miles from Edinburgh, while West Linton is 18. The former will be soon celebrating the opening of a rail link to the capital.

But, despite the relative proximity of these various, larger locations, it doesn’t stop either of the Lintons being considered sufficiently big enough to sustain several ‘community assets’, such as shops and a primary school.

East Linton primary school boasts 207 pupils (40 nursery-age and 167 P1-P7), while West Linton’s pitches in at 245 (18 nursery-age and 227 P1-P7).

Both villages also have a medical centre: East Linton’s with 3,010 registered patients (West Linton declined to say).

They each also boast tennis courts and a bowling green, plus at least one pub.

Where there is some divergence is in the number of shops, with East Linton boasting several more than West.

If size matters, when it comes to sustaining ‘community assets’, an average population of circa 1,800 seems to be all it requires to support ‘thriving communities’.

Converting the population statistics of the Lintons into household numbers, National Records of Scotland figures (this time from the 2011 census) say 792 for East Linton and 636 for West Linton (when their respective populations were 1,731 and 1,547).

In other words, the 22,905 new-build houses completed during the year September 2021-22 (as reported, here, by the Scottish Government) represents lots of villages the size of either of the Lintons.

The question therefore arises for government and the wider house-building sector: if most new-build housing takes place on car-dependent edges of town, might the answer lie instead in new (less car-dependent) villages like East and West Linton?

* For information on when the 2022 census results will be issued, go here.

A-Z summary (probably not comprehensive, despite at least two visits to each village):

Bakers – East Linton yes (Bostock Bakery), West Linton no

Bank or cash machine – East Linton yes (cash machine in Co-op convenience store), West Linton yes (ditto)

Bookshop – East Linton yes (Night Owl Books), West Linton no (Linton Books having recently closed)

Bowling – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Butcher – East Linton yes (Linton Butchers), West Linton yes (Gillespie’s)

Bus service to Edinburgh – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Business park – East Linton (two: one including agricultural sales, parts and servicing firm, WM Rose & Sons, Hestia Woodwork and Bostock Bakery; the other including Hometown coffee roasters and Marc Burnett handmade guitars), West Linton no

Cafe / Coffee house – East Linton yes (Mart Farm Shop, Smeaton Nursery Gardens, Marc Votadini and Bostock Bakery), West Linton yes (Olde Toll Tea Room and The Pyet Deli)

Children’s play park – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Community Council – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Convenience store – East Linton yes (Co-op), West Linton yes (Co-op)

Cricket – East Linton no, West Linton no

Day Centre – East Linton yes (Lynton Day Centre), West Linton no (but lots going on for older people in the village’s halls)

Deli – East Linton yes (Mart Farm Shop), West Linton not as such (The Pyet Deli being more of a sandwich shop and restaurant)

Dentist – East Linton no, West Linton no

Electric vehicle charging points – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Fire station – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Fish n chips – East Linton no, West Linton yes (mobile, on a Wednesday)

Fishmonger – East Linton yes (mobile: Tuesdays and Thursdays) , West Linton yes (mobile: Tuesdays and Thursdays)

Football – East Linton yes (East Linton Amateurs), West Linton yes (Linton Hotspur)

Gala day – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Gifts and art – East Linton yes (Funky Art Emporium), West Linton yes (The Knot)

Golf – East Linton no, West Linton yes

Gym – East Linton no, West Linton no

Hair and beauty – East Linton yes (Mirror, Hilary White and Zoe Dowling), West Linton yes (House of Hair and Calm)

Hotel – East Linton yes (Linton Hotel and Steakhouse), West Linton yes (The Gordon Arms Hotel)

Library – East Linton yes, West Linton no (though a mobile library pitches up on a Monday)

Medical centre – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Motor vehicle fuel – East Linton no, West Linton no

Motor vehicle garage – East Linton (East Linton Services and also Torness Motors), West Linton (Manor Garage and John Swan Garage Services)

Newsagent – East Linton yes (DJ Malcolm), West Linton yes (J&R Bell)

Pharmacy – East Linton yes (Linton Pharmacy), West Linton yes (West Linton Pharmacy – with a defibrillator on one of its walls)

Place of worship – East Linton yes (Prestonkirk Church of Scotland), West Linton yes (St Andrew’s Church of Scotland and St Mungo’s Scottish Episcopal Church)

Post office – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Primary school – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Pub – East Linton yes (Linton Hotel and Steakhouse, and Crown & Kitchen), West Linton yes (The Gordon Arms Hotel)

Public park – East Linton yes (with war memorial), West Linton yes (with war memorial nearby)

Rail station – East Linton yes (soon), West Linton no

Recycling bins – East Linton yes, West Linton yes

Sewage treatment – East Linton not sure, West Linton not sure

Snack bar / takeaway – East Linton yes (including Marc Votadini and Wok n Go – a noodle bar operating out of a double-decker bus), West Linton yes (The Pyet Deli)

Tennis – East Linton yes (two courts), West Linton yes (three courts)

Trades – East Linton yes (with shop signage for George Govan plumber, heating engineer and electrician and James Sandie painter and decorator), West Linton no shop fronts, but business cards posted in the bowling club

Vegetable market – East Linton yes (Phantassie Saturday morning market), West Linton yes (monthly farmers’ market and weekly allotments produce)

Village hall – East Linton yes (with a defibrillator on its frontage), West Linton yes (St Andrew’s Old Church Hall, St Andrew’s New Church Hall (primarily being used by a private children’s nursery Early Learners) and the Graham Institute)

Yoga, dance and wellbeing – East Linton yes (Yoga Den (yoga and therapies) and ArtEastDance), West Linton yes (ad hoc events at the bowling club)


East Linton: Smeaton Nursery Garden, APT planning and development consultant, EIG Management Services, Traprain Financial (financial services), monthly bric-a-brac market (at the village hall); and

West Linton: Reed Financial Planning and The Fireside, stoves and fireside accessories.

Notices on community notice boards and elsewhere (at the time of writing):

East Linton: community choir and horticultural society; and East Linton Climate Action. Also East Linton Art Group, Seed Swap (located in a telephone box) and East Linton Drama Group

West Linton: West Linton Ukelele Strummers, Guid Blethers, Qi Gong, community choir, Baby Brunch, Games nights, coffee mornings and historical association

Mike Wilson is a member of the Place Design Scotland team

With thanks to the people of both Lintons, including the volunteers at The Knot community shop, in West Linton, and Drylaw13 (the TURFgame cyclist) in East Linton..

Main picture: East Linton, other: West Linton

Picture credits: Place Design Scotland

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