The Burgh

Added to the town council, however, were a multiplication of boards at local level, each with a specific function. Thus parochial boards were set up for poor law. In 1872 school boards, elected by ratepayers, were constituted in Peebles. In 1857 boards of lunacy were established at county level. Road Trustees had been appointed under the Turnpike Acts but, under the Roads and Bridges Act of 1878, new Road Trustees were constituted in Peeblesshire whilst, in Peebles, the town council acted as Road Trustees. The toll bridge at Innerleithen still bears a Peeblesshire Roads Trustee plaque.

Peeblesshire, as a county, did not acquire a real organ of government until 1889, when county councils appeared to take over the functions formerly exercised by Commissioners of Supply and those of Road Trustees. County councillors were to be elected triennially, the franchise being widened as the Parliamentary franchise was by the various Reform Acts. The county council had powers to control capital expenditure on public works requiring loans, and also to act as the County Police Committee. From 1889 there were also district committees, consisting of councillors for the various constituencies, plus the parish councils.1

It became evident by 1900 that the system which had developed in the nineteenth century had defects. The multiplication of elected bodies inevitably led to a decline in the interest of voters and candidates alike. Indeed, as time went on and apathy grew, difficulty was experienced in persuading the voters to turn out. One glaring flaw in Peeblesshire related to the size of the parishes. They were quite simply too small a unit. If we take education as a case in point this was certainly true; larger units such as counties made it easier to arrange for itinerant teachers for special subjects to be employed. It became easier to deploy teachers within a number of schools and economy of scale could be practised in the laying down of standards and in supply costs. Moreover, it became obvious that secondary education could never be satisfactorily organised on a parochial basis.

Changes were therefore made which set the relationship in education between Peeblesshire and Peebles for some years. Secondary education committees were set up in 1893. In 1908 parishes were permitted to amalgamate for school board purposes. The next logical step by the Act of 1918 made the education authorities coterminous with the county. So Peebles lost direct control of its schools.