PART II: 1900 - 1950

July 1947. Some twenty-five years later, when the writer was presented to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, she smiled most warmly and exclaimed as she recalled 'Peebles for Pleesure, Mr Brown!' A gracious royal tribute to a royal and ancient burgh - and the years down through the centuries have not changed the truth of that proud boast.

The social history of these eventful years must include mention of Dr Clement B. Gunn because he was so much involved in the life of the town. Born in Edinburgh in 1860, he came to Peebles in 1885 to start up a medical practice. His father had been the assistant editor of the Edinburgh Courant. He, too, became a distinguished writer and his many books about the history of Peeblesshire and its churches are greatly valued, and especially treasured in many homes are his inspired Books of Remembrance.

Generations of schoolchildren will warmly recall attending Dr Gunn's talk on the history of Neidpath Castle and the Cross Kirk. These were arranged by the school and it was a rare privilege to be taken round these two ancient places and to hear at first hand his detailed knowledge of the history of the royal burgh which he communicated in his unique style with an enthusiasm that made a great impression on young minds.

Many stories can be told about him. His work of carving every letter of the names on the memorial for those who lost their lives during the Boer War, in order that they should not be forgotten. The memorial plaque is still in the building that was once the Drill Hall. He was a dynamic local character and James Brown, the eldest son of the late George Brown, shoemaker, 47 Northgate, recalls one of Dr Gunn's visits to the shop to have his elastic-sided boots examined to remove the cause of a squeaking noise. He would quickly pace up and down the shop, timing the offending noise with the word 'Squeak! Squeak!', and when the boots were repaired the pacing was renewed and accompanied by the words 'Cured! Cured!' Above all else Dr Gunn was an outstanding family doctor and a benefactor to the town's poor and needy; and an outstanding Peeblean dedicated to the well-being of this Auld Burgh Toon. His lasting memorial is the perpetuation each year of his 'Warden of Neidpath' address from the steps of Neidpath Castle by a distinguished Peeblean.

The Beltane Festival which symbolises our rights and freedom is the most fitting memorial for the first fifty years of the twentieth century. The Peeblean men and women who lived in these times and those who died in the defence of Freedom, truly enriched the proud heritage of Peebles.

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