green grassy image on Lasswade District Civic Society header

About Lasswade District Civic Society

The Society was formed in April 1971 when the village of Lasswade was a scene of ugly dereliction. Following the closure of the old paper mill, people had simply deserted the crumbling houses which fringed the heavily-polluted river.
The original aims of the Society were to clean up the river and to persuade the Local Authorities to plan a future that would restore the underlying amenity of the area. Volunteers worked through several summers lifting many tons of debris from the North Esk to allow the river to run freely and so begin to clean itself. Pressure was brought to bear on the Coal Board to install and improve the coal-washing facilities at Bilston Glen Colliery. The storm water drainage system throughout the length of the river has recently been upgraded and should further improve the quality of the river. It gives all those who worked on the river in the early days great pleasure to see anglers out on its banks - but the River North Esk still requires a guardian! Most years we have to clean the river and its banks. Industrial pollution has largely been replaced by consumer rubbish, builders' debris, old car parts and other jetsam. One of the great interests of river cleaning is discovering just what is hiding under the water!
Since its formation the Society has been involved in a wide variety of campaigns and projects, including -

  • Council recognition of pathways and rights-of-way throughout the District
  • Preservation of the Green Belt for the benefit of locals and those in Edinburgh
  • Pressure on the Council not to allow the demolition of the old School (now occupied as flats)
  • Initial cleaning and restoration of the old aisles in the Kirkyard later adopted by Midlothian Council
  • Evidence to the Local Public Inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase Order for Mavisbank and its policies
  • The maintenance of the right-of-way along the North Esk valley as an element of the proposed 44-km Esk Valley Way from the Pentland Hills to the sea at Musselburgh.
  • Drainage work on the riverside path from Kevock to Polton and tree planting to stabilise eroded river banks.
  • Bulb planting on roadside verges and in particular those in Melville Wood at the Wadingburn junction.
  • Promoting the construction of a vandal-proof bus shelter on the A768 at Wadingburn Road.
  • Restoration work on the Braeheads path and other access areas.
  • Evidence to a Public Hearing leading to rejection of proposed housebuilding on Polton Farm.
  • Representation at three Scottish Executive Inquiries on the rural protection of the Kevock ∧ Polton valleys.
  • Installation of the Jubilee Footbridge crossing the North Esk River from Lasswade village to the local park via the community garden which was a Society project.
  • Promotion of a series of District-wide Area Forum / Community Council debates on the problem of litter.
  • Ongoing collaboration with other associated groups in Midlothian.

Our role

The work of the Society is on two fronts. We see ourselves as looking after both the natural and urban environments. We carry out our own practical conservation projects and also collaborate with Midlothian Council and other official bodies in the best interests of our district. We represent the views of our members and other local opinion to the Authorities during the preparation of Local and District Structure Plans. We also monitor local Planning Applications and comment where we consider it appropriate.
One of the greatest threats to our local environment is the huge volume of traffic through Lasswade village. This will persist until the Sheriffhall roundabout is replaced by grade separated roads. The building of large numbers of houses on the south side of Bonnyrigg can only make this worse. We have now succeeded in having traffic lights installed in the High Street at a very dangerous corner. The current exit from Lasswade Park still remains hazardous, but our Jubilee Footbridge inaugurated in 2002 should help pedestrians.
Historically the Society was only active around Lasswade, but more recently the pressures on the Green Belt and other factors which affect our environment have made us look further afield. The loss of the Green Belt could result in houses being built all the way from suburban Edinburgh. We strongly believe that Lasswade and the surrounding area should keep its individual identity.
The North Esk valley deserves its status as an Area of Great Landscape Value and we normally oppose anything that threatens it. We support Midlothian Council’s policies against development in the countryside and do not want to see sporadic building on ‘greenfield’ sites. We are developing stronger links with all the related conservation and community groups concerned with the River Esk and its valley. The Society took the initiative in April 2001 to form The Esk Valley Trust with a number of these groups to cover the valleys of both tributaries of the Esk River from the Pentland and Moorfoot Hills through Midlothian and East Lothian to the sea at Musselburgh.


The Committee of our Society normally meets 6 weekly and we are pleased to add to the Agenda any topic raised by members. The Committee keeps the membership informed of latest news on its website and by issuing periodic Newsletters. 18 members act as local representatives and distribute Newsletters in their own area; they also collect the annual subscriptions and sell tickets for our annual Members’ Party. These Representatives give a personal service and through their efforts help to lower expenses.
Our meetings are sociable affairs. Evening meetings include a chat over a glass of wine with other members, and environmental projects are often followed by a barbecue or a picnic. Each year in March we hold an Annual Party. The Annual General Meeting is usually held at the end of April.
The Lasswade District Civic Society hopes by its concern to keep this area a pleasant place for us all to live. Your help and ideas are always needed.

Please join us!