Industry, Trade and Commerce
Laing & Irvine, producing tweed at Tweedside; Thorburn & Co., located on the High Street, and also providing tweed; and Robert Todd shown as a yarn spinner, also at Tweedside. The three weavers were: John Hunter, Biggiesknowe, Alexander Laidlaw, Old Town, and Robert Stoddart, High Street, and there was a wool warehouse at West Port owned by Justins Murray.
We need to visualise the High Street of Peebles in 1867. Trading was carried out by five bakers, six grocers, seven grocers and spirit dealers, one greengrocer, four butchers, seven boot- and shoemakers, four linen and woollen merchants, one dressmaker and milliner, six tailors, one clock- and watchmaker, two stationers and booksellers, one cabinetmaker and upholsterer, one glass and china dealer, three saddlers, one druggist, one tobacconist and hairdresser, two nailmakers, two plumbers and gas fitters, five ironmongers, two builders and masons, two painters, six nursery and seedsmen, one printer and bookbinder, one weaver, one rope-maker, one cab and carriage owner, and an auctioneer. It is a formidable array of trade and services all in the main street with thirteen shops or tradesmen's premises in the Northgate, twelve in the Old Town, and twenty-three elsewhere in the burgh. It was, of course, the county's main centre and when this survey was taken of Peebles in 1867 it was in the middle of a decade that was experiencing a substantial increase in population.
Never before had there been growth at such a pace. From 1861 to 1871 the census returns show that the population increased from 2,045 to 2,631; 586 more people had come to live in the town. This rise of 28.6 per cent brought about a 50 per cent increase in the number of houses in Peebles, from 340 to 512.
These ten years contained the dynamics of growth that brought about even more expansion in the remaining decades of the nineteenth century. By 1871 Peebles had two woollen-mills, and their success led, in 1885, to the third mill - Ballantyne's March Street Mills - which attracted many more workers into the town. These mills and the impact of the railways on the fortunes of the town were the factors that enabled Peebles to expand and its population to increase to 5,266 by 1901. The burgh had to extend its boundaries to provide space for 1,123 dwelling-houses; this compared with the 340 houses that comprised the town forty years earlier.
Inevitably, there. was an evolving trend of changing customs. Villagers could travel more frequently as road access improved