THE FIRST HALF of the twentieth century had five distinct periods and each meant a very different way of life for the people of Peebles.
It began with the pre-1914 years which covered the celebrations of two coronations, King Edward VII in August 1902 and George V in June 1911, when the future looked bright and local life was still centred on the activities of the tweed-mills. Then came the First World War, involving every family when the life-and-death struggle lasted longer than anyone at first expected. There followed the 'inbetween' years of 1919 to 1938. It was a phase when the life of the town was faced with the uncertainty of work as the tweed-mills gradually moved towards a major recession in world trade and unemployment. Despite the years of the Depression, there were improvements in wages and hours and especially changes in life-style as many families were better housed as new building schemes were completed. Then came the Second World War and Peebles prepared itself to be 'in the front line' like the rest of Britain, ready to defend itself while its sons and daughters were serving in every sector of the wartime life. When the struggle ended in 1945, the last four years of the half-century saw the town and its ex-servicemen and women seeking a return to 'normality'.
However, life could never be the same; it was different after each phase and above all there was from 1914 - and deepened by the years from 1939 - a silent and enduring bond with these never-to-beforgotten days and with the 294 sons and two daughters of Peebles who had not returned. Chapter 7 gives an account of Peebles during the First and Second World Wars but the story to be told of the life of the town would not be complete without a heart-felt tribute to the widows, the fatherless and the grieving mothers and fathers to whom their loss was irreplaceable.