PART I: 1850 - 1900

inclined to join the townsfolk in voluntary and public subscriptions which, by enhancing the tax revenue, made possible the numerous improvements which were to take place.

The improvements which were to mark the end of Peebles as 'a finished town', to return to Robert Chambers's illuminating phrase, began as early as 1784 with the building of the Parish Church on the Castlehill. Some five years later, the town jail was built, immediately to the north of the church. A new and imposing County Hall (now the Sheriff Courthouse), incorporating the jail and fronting on to the West Port, was completed in 1843. In order to complete the Parish Church, the West Wark or New Wark, a defensible building standing some thirty yards east of the church athwart the High Street, was removed. At the same time the defensive ditch across the West Port, which covered the approach across the causeway over Peebles Water, was in filled and in 1815 the first Cuddy Bridge was completed. Prior to its completion, the main route to and from the Old Town was by Biggiesknowe and the Briggait.

Before the doubling in width of the Tweed Bridge in 1834, which was carried out by local tradesmen and funded, in the main, by public subscription, the town meal-mill on the south side of Castlehill was demolished, although the north wall still survives opposite the entrance to the swimming pool. At the same time, the mill lade, or goyt, was infilled. This ran from the intake on Peebles Water, through the northern arch of the bridge and along the line of the present roadway before it entered the Tweed after serving the waulk­mill at Walkershaugh, and the infilling permitted the removal of much of the Town Wall on the south and permitted building to take place. Here the two burgh schools were built on either side of School Brae; originally single-storeyed, they were doubled in size by the addition of an extra floor in 1862 and 1878 respectively.

The Peeblesshire Advertiser of Tuesday, 4 February 1845 led with a story concerned with the planned improvements to the main streets of Peebles and with the subscription lists which had been opened for that purpose. The town council promised £200, Provost Ker, £10, Bailies Stirling and Frazer, £5 each, with the same amount coming from the Dean of Guild. Thereafter were listed the gentlemen of the town and county, William and Robert Chambers leading the list with £50.

The improvements envisaged the lowering and repaving of the principal streets after the system developed by Macadam; the

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