This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Back to Latest Red Wheel Site

Tranent - Cockenzie Waggonway

Opened 1722. Scotland's earliest railway, built to carry coal on wooden rails, using gravity and horse power. Fought across in the Battle of Prestonpans 1745

East Lothian
Red Wheel Site:
Transport Mode(s):

Waggonway Museum, West Harbour Road, Cockenzie

EH32 0HX
Visitor Centre:

About Tranent - Cockenzie Waggonway

Tranent - Cockenzie Waggonway

The wagon way was built in 1722, from Tranent to Port Seton Harbour, via the Cockenzie Salt Pans. It was re-routed in 1815 to a new terminus at Cockenzie Harbour, but not before the battle of Prestonpans was fought across the tracks in 1745.

Recent archaeological excavations have shown the early wooden ‘plateway’ formation is intact with evidence of the iron railway built by Robert Stephenson in 1815 overlaid on top. The plateway was to the Willington Waggonway gauge of 4’6” also known as the Scotch gauge, whilst the later iron railway is 3’3”.

Further excavations at Cockenzie Harbour have unearthed evidence of Stephenson’s waggon tipping mechanism and waggon turntables, drawings for which exist along with with plans for Cockenzie Harbour in the early 19th century.

The 1722 Waggonway Heritage Group have established an excellent small museum at Cockenzie Harbour which includes copies of drawings from various Scottish national archive sources. They are continuing with their annual excavations plan and hope to ‘open up’ a 100’ length in the area of their trial pit next year.


The Heritage Group have resumed the making of salt.



20 Sep1919


John Cameron at the unveiling ceremony

On 21st September 2020, having unveiled the Red Wheel, National Transport Trust Vice President John Cameron CBE is presented with coal dredged from the harbour for use in the locomotive, 60009 Union of South Africa, by 177 Waggonway Heritage Group Chair, Ed Bethune.


East Lothian Courier Coverage:

 Cockenzie EastLothian Courier 8 Oct 20



National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR