This blog is to introduce you to my town - Peebles, in the Scottish Borders - just one photo at a time, with perhaps a little description and maybe some history thrown in. I hope you will find it interesting. The title comes from a historical comment made by someone who preferred Peebles to the great and famous cities. I know how they felt. It's always a pleasure to return here however long you've been away.

If you want to make a comment, ask me a question, or merely just want to say "hello, I've dropped in", you can do that by using the comment section below each entry. (Just click on the word COMMENT and follow instructions. ) I'd love to know what you think of what you see of my town.

I don't have an expensive elaborate camera so the photo quality may not be brilliant, but I'd like to think my pics will please you. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks to Mary H for the lovely designs I used for my background, and thanks too to all of you who have chosen to support my blog by becoming "followers".

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The arts accounted for

Apologies for absence once more. I had a bit of an accident recently and haven't felt like doing much. Getting better slowly though.

Anyway, by the time I arrived in Peebles 22 years ago, the church in the Eastgate had closed and was known as the Eastgate Hall, where exhibitions, sales, coffee mornings, fairs and suchlike took place.

However there was call in Peebles for an arts centre under one roof, and after much discussion it was decided that the Eastgate Hall was the place it should be at.

Eventually, after a great deal of fundraising and applying for grants the go ahead was given. The interior was gutted, a new floor put in to house the theatre upstairs, and the whole of this side wall removed to be replaced with a steel and glass frontage revealing the foyer and cafe/bar. The theatre doubles as a cinema on occasions, and the tiered seating can be telescoped back to allow for special events to take place that require a hall type setting. Downstairs as well as the foyer there are offices, an exhibition room and dressing rooms.

Each quarter a new programme of plays, musical gigs of one sort or another, films, lectures, etc. comes out, starring local theatre groups and musicians as well as the weel kent (well known) and downright famous!


The word gate in Scots does not mean a structure that opens to allow people to enter or exit, or closes to keep them in or out. It comes from the word gait which means a way - a roadway or pathway - so the Eastgate or gait was the road to the east. Round the corner is the Northgate, similarly the road to the north. There was no need for fancy street names in centuries past. Eastgate is a continuation of the High Street or Highgait or high road, the main street of the town.
The centre of Peebles is very much a residential area as well as a commercial one, so most of the upper storeys of the High Street, Eastgate and Northgate have been converted into flats, where they would once have been the homes of the burgesses of the town.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Peebles' West End

This is quite an interesting picture. It is taken as you approach the road roundabout at the end of the High Street, from Tweed Bridge. Ahead is the Buchan house (see 11 January), and continuing past the red door at the side (apparently the old front door on the High Street was red) will take you across Cuddy Bridge and into Old Town. To the right and in front of the Buchan house is the High Street. The buildings in shadow from the corner to the bay windows on the right were till about 18 months ago, the old police station, complete with cells in the basement, while the house with the dormer windows to the right of the photo was the police inspector's house.

Now, over the road, the half-timbered building houses a pub downstairs and Italian restaurant upstairs. It didn't always look like this. In old photos it's stone fronted! On the other side of the bulding is the Parish Church - you can just see a tiny bit of the church tower. However I found out something rather interesting from the local newspaper this week about the nickname of the pub. Although it is really The Bridge Inn, formerly the Tweedside Inn, the local folk call it The Trust - and that is apparently due to the fact that when the bridge was widened in 1900, the town council wanted to buy it, and along with the bridge works improve the appearance of the inn. It was bought but for some reason never altered; the widened bridge re-opened, and the town council owned a pub which they really didn't know what to do with. Several ideas were suggested, including demolition, but in the end the lease was sold off to the East of Scotland Public House Trust Company, and that is how the nickname came into general use! Incidentally, the lease was a short one and since then the pub has changed hands several times.

As for the upstairs, it was a Chinese restaurant in recent years, with Chinese Frankie and his Italian wife in charge. One of their daughters married an Italian lad and when Frankie retired, the young couple took over to run it as the Italian restaurant it is today!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Across Tweed

The view of Cabbage Hall (centre) from across the river

From the left is the old Burgh School, now flats; the pavilion on the Green; behind the tree is School Brae. Next there is the old Grammar School which I thought was derelict, but apparently isn't altogether. The upper flat is occupied by a reclusive guy and his partner. The building is in very bad shape, and is suffering some subsidence, but I reckon if the guy has no money which seems likely, he will maybe think that it's OK and will not fall down for a while.

Next to the school is Cabbage Hall with the Burgh Hall behind it, then and behind the trees a row of garages. The church is St Andrews Leckie Church of Scotland with a long flight of steps from the Green up to it - there is another entrance from the Eastgate at the other side. Then you can see the old Rectory of the Episcopal Church and behind it another spire, once the Eastgate Church, then hall and now theatre.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The Laird of Cabbage Hall

This is Peter, who along with his wife Juliet, lives in Cabbage Hall.

He's a very special kind of guy is Peter, retired head teacher, woodworker extraordinaire, Quaker, organiser of events for the Peace Group, Peebles citizen of the year........ a very well known face around the town, and always busy with something or other. (I called him today and he was away sorting books for his annual book sale in aid of the Peace Group!)

He is often to be seen flying along the road on his bicycle, or just striding along the street, and I remember once, a good number of years ago now, when Tweed burst its banks and caused substantial flooding, that he was out in his canoe, paddling along outside his house, where the road was well underwater.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Cabbage Hall!

What a wonderful name this house has!
"Cabbage Hall",
the home of Peter and Juliet, a well known couple in the town.

I wonder how and when it got its name. Having visited Peter and Juliet a few times I have had the chance to see the layout of the house, which is quite interesting with its two staircases to the upper floor, and little rooms leading off each other. Peter and Juliet are both quite "bohemian" and I love the way the house decor has evolved! I expect that if the family were to sell the house a lot of work would need to be done on it, but it's not going to fall down in the near future and it is great the way it is!

Behind, and visible above the house is the Burgh Hall at the back of the Quadrangle at the Chambers Institution, and between them on the slope is a large vegetable garden, tended by Peter and Juliet.

P.S I was going to give you this picture in a few days time, but a discovery has made me want to share it earlier. Since I discovered that the father-in-law of an ancestor died at Tweedgreen Cottage I have been on a mission to find out where that was/is. To that end I wrote to the local paper and as a result of its publication today, I had a call from Peter to say "Look no further!" Cabbage Hall was once known as Tweedgreen Cottage, and at some other time was Briar Cottage, but Cabbage Hall was still the original name. I hope to see Peter tomorrow to look at the deeds he has of the house! How exciting to find that my family had a connection with this lovely old house!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The evening sky

A waxing moon shines in the evening sky about two weeks ago, as viewed from my window overlooking Tweed. The full moon the other day was very bright but quite hazy, and not anywhere near a good place to take a pic in the early evening.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Tweed Bridge Story

On the subject of Tweed Bridge, it is interesting to see the changes that have taken place over the centuries. Under the present arches you can see clearly the 15th century stone bridge, much narrower, wide enough only for a horse and cart, that replaced a previous crossing, possibly of wooden construction. For several hundred years this must have sufficed, but in 1834 funded by public subscription, the bridge was widened on each side to allow carriages and carts to pass each other.

However, possibly because of the expansion of Peebles to the south towards the end of the 1800s, and the railway bringing goods and travellers to Peebles, by 1900 there was obviously a need for an even wider bridge and this time it was a forward-looking town council who took responsibility, doubling the width of the bridge by adding to the east side - the other side in this picture. You can see the faint joining line through the arch in the photo. A plaque on the bridge records that at that time Henry Ballantyne was the Lord Provost, head of the town council, and William Buchan the town clerk.

So today, 109 years later, the bridge still seems to be adequate for the traffic that uses it, though there has been some talk in the town over the last year or three that maybe another bridge could be built to relieve congestion at busy times. There has been a lot of house construction on the south side of the river in the last years of the 20th century to the present date and many of the new Peebles residents commute daily to Edinburgh to work, so the idea of a second bridge may be one that will eventually come to fruition.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Tweedbridge lamp

These lamp standards on Tweed Bridge are so elegant, except for the silly little plastic-looking lights on the top! The lamps themselves used to be taller and grander but were replaced, to a great furore, a few years ago, by these tiddly little things! However the lamp bases are wonderful with a fabulously ornamental fish winding itself around each one, and the decorative cross bar where the lamplighter's ladder would lean if a gas mantel or glass pane had to be replaced in the days before they were electrified.

In the background, the snow covered hills above Glentress and Innerleithen.

Monday, 9 February 2009

River walk to Neidpath Castle

After the road bridge, the next bridge up-river is a little bit beyond Neidpath Castle which you can see in the distance here. It is the old railway bridge that crossed Tweed and proceeded through a long tunnel to one of the two railway stations that existed in Peebles. I always think it was a shame that railway passengers were deprived of the view of the castle from the opposite bank.

It is a beautiful walk out to the castle, first along a riverside pathway, past the swimming pool, and the point where Cuddy meets Tweed, just above the cauld (weir). On past Hay Lodge and the small hospital into the tree'd park - which is where you can see the snow in the distance. From the park the path then becomes a woodland walk along a rougher track more or less beside the river all the way, past the Dookits, where it was once popular to swim and dive, and on till the path leaves the trees behind and opens onto meadow land. Eventually, to reach the castle itself you must scramble up the steep rocky outcrop on which the castle stands. It's well worth the effort.

In the foreground, the line across the river is the cauld or weir, built to control the flow of water into the mill lade or stream in the days when a mill existed by the river at this point. The woollen mill was destroyed by fire in the 1960s but in due course the site was used for a new swimming pool.

Another day, in the summer I will take you on the walk, and we'll return along the opposite bank, having crossed the old railway bridge. We won't be going through the old tunnel, you may be glad to know.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

School Brae

Behind the pavilion (see 5 January) the road uphill connects the Green with the High Street, emerging onto the street through the arch through the old Town House (29 Jan). At the foot of the hill, the buildings on either side of the bottom corner of the street give School Brae (hill) its name, having once been the Burgh School on one side and the Grammar School on the other.

The smaller Grammar School closed around the end of the 19th century, while the Burgh School expanded into brand new premises at Kingsland to the north side of the town, next door to the poorhouse, in 1901. (Amid great controversy, Kingsland School is now on the verge of moving to yet another new building on the west edge of the town which is under construction at the present moment.) The old Burgh School was converted into flats.

Half way up, past the Ex-Servicemen's Club, the Brae opens up into a small square where on one side is a small row of shops with accommodation above, designated the Craft Village - for further mention in the future. There are also, a Chinese restaurant and various small businesses in buildings near the foot of the hill.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Priorsford Bridge

Anna Buchan, sister of John of the "Thirtynine steps" wrote about Peebles in the first half of the 20th century, though she called it Priorsford. This is Priorsford Bridge, a footbridge that links a residential part of the town to the south of the river, with Tweed Green and the centre of town on the north side.

The river flows downstream under the bridge and continues its way towards Berwick-upon-Tweed on the east coast, not of Scotland but of nothern England, though it still has some way to go from here.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Winter on Tweed

A wintry view for you today, looking up-river to the parish church. Right in the centre of town you can walk on footpaths through trees, along riverbanks and across bridges without having to go near a car, and often not meeting another soul.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence. Excuse: an old and decrepit computer!

So, to the picture.... this beautiful building, built, surprisingly, in the 1930s, serves a variety of uses for the Scottish Borders Council, and includes the new Sheriff Court where local misdemeanours are dealt with. In the days of town councils this was Peebles' council buildings.

It replaced an older building built in 1857-8 as the poorhouse for the surrounding area, where the poor, elderly or infirm often ended up when there was no-one else to support them. It was always a dreaded fate to end up in the poorhouse, but as a last resort it was shelter over their head and food, however rudimentary. The Peebles poorhouse closed and was demolished in 1930. In the 1881 census a young unmarried mother and her baby of two months are seen to have been among the inmates at Peebles. All inmates were classed as paupers.

Recently, the police station was relocated in new buildings to the rear of the building, seen by most of the Peebles residents to be a ridiculous move, as it is situated way out of the town centre on the edge of town - not so user-friendly, if indeed that is the right expression!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The Cross Kirk

The Cross Kirk was founded in the 13th century at a place where an old cross and relics of St Nicholas - the Santa Claus St Nicholas - were said to have been discovered. It first became a priory, and was later used as the parish church. There's more of its story and photos here.

Hidden away in a residential area of north Peebles, it is quite a surprise to come across it unexpectedly, in its peaceful surroundings among the Scots Pine trees.