Industry, Trade and Commerce

they readily gave permission for the burgh's streets to be opened up for gas pipes to be laid, making it possible for a newly-­established private gas company to provide lighting for the streets, shops and dwelling-houses.

However, it was the combination of the two rivers, with their facility to provide water-power, and the advent of the railways, with their communication links to markets, that attracted to the town a share of the beneficial inventions of the industrial revolution. These ingenuous inventions, created for the cotton industry by Hargreaves, Arkwright, Crompton and Cartwright, in time became adapted for the carding, spinning and weaving of woollens, bringing about the 'modern' woollen-mill with its machinery driven by water- or steam­power. When these developments were utilised in Peebles with the establishment of the Tweedside and Damdale Mills, the town became renowned for the manufacture of quality woollen cloths and tweeds, rather than its eighteenth-century reputation as a centre for the marketing of grain, increasing the burgh's population from 1,982, in 1851, to 3,495 in 1881 - an increase of 76 per cent in just thirty years.

Peebles was not an early starter in the speculative venture of acquiring a railway system. It only became a railway town some thirty years after George Stephenson's engine, Locomotive, had run at a speed of twelve miles per hour on the Stockton to Darlington railway, and twenty-five years after the practicability of steam locomotion had been accepted when the Rocket engine reached a speed of nearly twenty-nine miles per hour. Despite the fever of speculation which had swept through Britain after the Liverpool to Manchester railway had made a large profit, there was insufficient local interest during the peak periods of investment between 1835 to 1837 and from 1845 to 1847. There were, however, three unsuccessful attempts made by private enterprise groups to bring the railway to the area. The first, in 1810, was based on a plan prepared from a survey by Thomas Telfer to provide a tram-line for horse-drawn carriages from Glasgow to Berwick via Peebles. The earliest railway in Scotland was based on a similar system which conveyed coal, timber and grain between Kilmarnock and Troon.3 Another proposal was made in 1836 and led to a more developed plan in 1845/6 which only just failed because of insufficient local financial backing. Renewed efforts were made again just before 1850 when it was discovered that the route for an Edinburgh to Hawick line was going to by-pass the town and that Peebles would be the last county south of the Tay without a railway link.

 

21

 

 

Last Page
Contents
Next Page