Town goes up the pole again with trio of American symbols

STUDENTS ARE set to carve three new totem poles in Prestonpans this summer, to mark the second anniversary of the town's first Native American symbol.

Teenagers from the East Lothian Inclusion Service will join local artists to create the 10ft high poles, which will be installed at a country park near the town.

The project has been designed to commemorate the installation of the town's first totem pole in 2006, which was carved by Canadian sculptors from a 75-year-old log given to Prestonpans by the people of Vancouver Island.

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At the time, a second unused log was also transported from Canada to the town – which will now be crafted into three poles detailing the history of East Lothian to be installed near Cuthill Park.

Local artist Andrew Crummy, who chairs Prestonpans' Three Harbours art festival and is helping to craft the new poles, said: "The first one is still outside the Gothenburg pub and has become a local landmark.

"It's 32 feet high and it is a real talking point for people who either live in Prestonpans or are just visiting the town.

"There are dozens of people every day who pass by to look at it or have their photos taken in front of it.

"We're carving three new poles out of the log, so they're probably only going to be 10 feet high.

"However, they are going to include some well-known features and symbols of East Lothian, so we hope that they will prove just as popular as the larger pole."

The first totem pole was carved in 2006 by two tribal Indians from Vancouver Island, who decorated it with symbols depicting the history of Prestonpans.

They include a six-pointed star to represent the salt industry, a miner to reflect the town's coal mining past, and a teapot to represent pottery.

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Both Scottish and English flags were included on the totem pole to represent the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745.

The new poles are to be carved by a team of teenagers from the East Lothian Inclusion Service (ELIS), which works with young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties. The team is expected to start work on the landmarks once the final designs have been completed.

They will be named the John Muir Poles, after the renowned East Lothian explorer and naturalist who created the national park system in the US.

Mr Crummy, who will supervise and help the teenagers with local artists Kenny Grieve and Tom Ewing, added: "It should be a great project for the teenagers and we're looking forward to starting work on the poles. Myself, Kenny and Tom will be supervising and helping with the work.

"If all goes according to plan, we will spend four weeks carving the poles and another month painting them.

"We're expecting to install them by the start of the summer, just in time for the annual Three Harbours festival.

"Hopefully they will prove just as popular and as much of a talking point as the totem pole we already have."