PART I: 1850 - 1900
The town council had furnished two wells for the public supply. One in the High Street, St Mungo's Well, had a wellhead on the southern flank of Venlaw where a spring-fed cistern was established. Water was then piped by wooden pipes, later in 1838 supplanted by lead pipes, to the outlet on the High Street. A similar system operated from the Meadow Strand Well, to the west of the town, to an outlet well at the top of the Old Town on the corner of Young Street (now Lindores). By 1867, and under the provisions of the 1867 Police and Improvements Act, a town council decision established a reservoir on the Meldon Burn which then piped water, not only to the two public wells, but also to the new houses which were being built. 7
On the south side of the river many of the new houses relied on a private water-supply system with a spring-fed system on Morning Hill which was satisfactory until further development in the 1880s rendered it inadequate. Thus, it was in 1883 that an intake on Manor Water was created, with a pumping and filter station at Bonnycraig, and more or less the same system as Peebles now enjoys was set up. Incidentally, the Hotel Hydro, which was built in 1878 and subsequently rebuilt in 1905-7, still utilises the wellhead of St Mungo's Well for some of its water requirements.
The other public utility which had a tangible effect on the burgh was the introduction of lighting by gas. A meeting of the burgesses was held on 9 January 1829, with Sir John Hay of Smithfield in the chair. It was then resolved to form a company to be known as the Peebles Gas Company. The management committee included Sir John Hay, Provost Turnbull, John Paterson (later Provost), John Welsh, James Spalding and Alexander Wilkie. The capital of the Gas Company was £700 and the site for the gasworks was west of Castlehill, directly behind the bowling green. The gasworks, or 'guffie', was to serve the town well until 1905 when new premises were constructed at Eshiels.
Originally, coking coal was brought in by cart from the Lanarkshire coalfield. Gas was only made for ten months of the year and the public street lamps were only lit for 119 nights, the cost of lighting each lamp being 14s (70p) per lamp. The cost to domestic consumers was 13s (65p) per 1,000 cubic feet. By 1849, the annual consumption of gas was 736,000 cubic feet, a clear indication of the growth of the town. With the arrival of the railway, trade improved, the town continued to expand as we have seen and the gas consumption rose to 903,000 cubic feet at the reduced rate of 8s 4d (just over 41p) per 1,000 cubic feet.