PART II: 1900 - 1950

Similarly, the 1929 Act dealt with other aspects of administration. By this time there were no less than nine bodies in local government, many of them applicable to Peeblesshire and Peebles. In the terms of the Act, seven of them were abolished. The ad hoc bodies disappeared and only the town and county councils were retained. One new body, however, was added; that of district council. This consisted of the county councillors of the district plus members elected at the same time as the county councillors.

The 1929 Act produced, in effect, a two-tier structure, a solution which, in the main, was to serve Peeblesshire and Peebles well until the 1970s. The generally competent body became the county council. The lower tier was formed by the burgh and districts, although the districts had very limited powers. The burgh retained such matters as lighting, cleansing and housing and also the control of such municipal enterprises as cemeteries, parks, the golf course, swimming baths and the gasworks. The county council was enlarged to include delegates from town councils, in this case Peebles and Innerleithen. Such members had powers to vote on matters which the county had responsibility for within the burgh.

There was animosity over the years between the burgh and county, mainly on the much vexed and perennial question of finance, the burgh members holding the somewhat parochial view that the burgh was providing more than its share for the services provided. When we consider that the combined population of Peebles and Innerleithen was generally rather more than 50 per cent of the total population of the shire, they may have been presenting a fallacious argument.2

All this was in the future when Provost Henry Ballantyne and his bailies took office in 1898. Under the provisions of the Council (Scotland) Act of 1900, the burgh boundaries were extended. From the east in a clockwise manner they embraced Nether Soonhope, Woodside, Bonnycraig, Morning Hill, Firknowe (in the west), Rosetta and Swinton Bank (in the north). The continuing march of progress was to further extend them after both wars by the acquisition of landward property, an important factor in the development of the burgh.

The South African War (1899-1901) which followed hard on the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria had little effect on Peebles. Nonetheless, a number of Peebles men volunteered for service. They were already members of the local Volunteer Battalion of The Royal Scots. Their names are recorded in the Drill Hall. This act of memory we owe to Dr C. B. Gunn, that