PART II: 1900 - 1950

Eshiels undertaken. Also worthy of note was the extensive new building at what was then the County and Burgh High School. A whole new block of classrooms and gymnasium was completed in 1936-8.

Trade did pick up from about 1935 onwards and by early 1939 the mills were busy again, often on Government contracts (ominous sign). More motorcars were seen on Peebles High Street. Local garages were able to run coach services to the remoter valleys of Peeblesshire. Butchers, bakers and the ubiquitous Co-op were sending out motorvans to the farms and villages, although many of their local deliveries were still by horse-drawn vehicles. Confidence was returning to the town which, like the rest of Scotland, had suffered grievously.

The gathering of the storm clouds of war must have caused many Peebleans to think of twenty years before when the high promise of the Armistice, the 'land fit for heroes', was exposed as a cruel sham by the subsequent Depression. They might well have thought, as Grassic Gibbon was to write in Sunset Song: 'They died for a world that is past, these men, but they did not die for this that we seem to inherit.'

The Second World War started again with the Government preaching 'business as usual'. In contrast to the First World War, production was subject to centralised control. In consequence, both the woollen-mills and the farming industry were allocated production targets and allocated resources accordingly. Conscription was introduced, firstly on a partial basis by the Militia Act of 1938 and later was made universal. The mills again lost labour, as did agriculture, but deferments also applied for key workers.

The doubling of the Territorial Army in 1938 saw the resuscitation of the 8th Battalion The Royal Scots who, with the 57th Regiment Royal Artillery, the Peebles frontline TA unit, were embodied for service in 1939. Both units were to distinguish themselves in the course of the next six years. Obviously, with both voluntary service and conscription, many young Peebles men and women served in all three services and travelled worldwide during their time in them.

As we have seen, house-building in Peebles, as elsewhere, ceased in 1939. The business of the town council centred largely on the administration required in support of civil defence, of the auxiliary fire service and of those voluntary organisations who provided facilities for the servicemen and