When man first came to our valley, historians conjecture. But having entered it, they held fast and to the earliest of our forbears we owe our heritage of a valley, unsurpassed and of those comforting, surrounding, guarding, protecting hills. The past is not the past but a continuing stream. Their spirit is born within us and proudly we, too, hand their trust - our heritage - on to each succeeding generation. Centuries have flitted by - fierce times, fighting times and hard times - but none has ever driven us from our door.
IT IS FITTING that these words, spoken by William Kerr as Warden of Neidpath in 1959, should introduce the History of Peebles: 1850-1990. Many of the years the volume will cover were avidly and expertly chronicled, week-by-week, by William (Will) Kerr when he was Editor of the Peeblesshire News. He wrote with warmth and affection about Peebles and Peebleans, and in 1959 he looked back to the years of the second half of the nineteenth century and spoke of the 'torch of progress' that had livened up the town, as the valley between Hamilton Hill and Venlaw opened up with the advent of the railway in Peebles and the mills that became the 'chief arteries' for the town's future.
Peebles is now without its railways and Tweedside and Damdale Mills have disappeared. It would have seemed incredible to Peebles men and women of the first half of the twentieth century that this could happen; they could not have imagined life without them. Yet, in 1990, 'Grandmother Venlaw' will not be displeased with the Peebles and the Peebleans she now looks upon.
In commemorating the 850th Anniversary of the granting by King David I of Scotland (1124-1153) of the Charter which made Peebles a Royal Burgh, it is fitting that we record these