CHAPTER 10

 

The Burgh

 

VICTORY IN EUROPE was greeted in Peebles, as elsewhere, with relief and enthusiasm. Although the war in South-East Asia was to go on until August of 1945, it was generally felt that the worst was over. Unlike in the aftermath of the First World War, demobilisation of service personnel had been planned for and, within months of VE Day, Peebleans were returning to civilian life.

Provost Fergusson demitted office when the European War ended to be succeeded by William Cleland. The latter, who had served in the First World War with the 1/8th Royal Scots, was well placed to advise the town council on the problems facing returning service personnel. The first and most pressing of their needs was housing. Many Peebleans, both men and women, had married whilst in the services and were now returning to their native town hoping to set up home and to start a family. In addition, many who had been stationed in Peebles, notably in the General Hospital of the Royal Army Medical Corps which had occupied the Hotel Hydro, had married locally and wished to continue to live in Peebles. Similarly, a number of Polish soldiers who had lost their homes in Poland with the Russian occupation, opted to remain in Scotland; again, many had married Peebles girls and required housing.

Towards this end, the council were empowered to reintroduce the policy of provision of municipal housing which had gone into abeyance in 1939. The first scheme to be built was one of thirty-two houses on part of the Kingsland ground immediately to the north of Kingsland School. The houses were of the type known as 'pre-fabs'. They were three-apartment, well-equipped, flat-roofed, box-like structures whose merit lay in their internal fittings which included fitted kitchens and bathrooms. Indeed the first domestic refrigerator in Peebles belonged to the 'pre-fabs'. The houses, which were mass-produced in

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