PART I: 1850 - 1900

therefore, 140 households (29 per cent), ranging from a single person to a family, had to share another household's accommodation.

A local initiative established the Peeblesshire Savings Investment and Building Society in 1859 and this provided facilities for its members to either purchase or build their own house. At a meeting in 1878, it was reported that 1,794 shares were being paid up and nearly a third of these had been held since the formation of the society. It indicated a. spirit of independence and thrift.

Just as the woollen factories had brought new life to the town and the townspeople, so did the railways. Its social impact on the town was apparent from 4 July 1855, the first day the Tweed brought in its passengers. As if to reinforce its facility to open the people of the town to new experiences, on the second day the train brought Marion Thomson and Janet Brown from Fisherrow and the town heard the cry 'Caller Haddies . . . Caller Herrin' . . . Wha'll hae my Caller Cod?' They quickly sold out and there was a promise that they would return regularly. In the 1930s their successors were still keeping that promise. 'Jennie the Fishwife' carrying her heavy creel supported by a strap round her forehead, began her round by calling on her regular customers in the Northgate as they were nearest to the station. When the fish had been selected and the price had been bargained, she would clean and prepare them with a marvellous economy of strokes with her sharp gutting-knife.

Back in the nineteenth century, the grocer, George Ferrier, advertised that he expected 'this day by rail a supply of Banffshire powdered butter at 1s 0½d (5p) per pound.' Nicol Dixon advertised that he had made arrangements for the railway to bring coal from the Lothian collieries. Thomas Peden, a merchant in the High Street, advertised 'marmalade oranges'.

Peebles was well-advanced in having its houses and streets lit by gas but at that time, in 1854, the town did not have a furniture shop for household items such as a chair, table or a bed. These had to be obtained from Edinburgh or ordered to be made by a local carpenter. The town did not have a hearse either; that, too, had to be hired from Edinburgh. Then, in May 1859, James Mathison of the Crown Inn advertised the availability in the town of a 'handsome new hearse'. It could be hired with one horse and a plain hearse for 6s (30p) whilst 'with plume', the charge would be increased to 7s 6d (37½p) and, if required with plume and two horses, it would cost 10s 6d (52½p).

The Revd Dr William Dalgleish, Minister of the Parish Church

 

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