We’ve been really lucky with the weather recently. We had five days straight with blue sky and sunshine, one day when it was showery, but then the sun came out again, and has been with us for several more days! Amazing! Well, I went off for a wee walk along the river on one of the fine days and found not only snowdrops popping up through last years autumn leaves in the woodland by the river, but crocuses too .
This will be a familiar view - Tweed Bridge and the path along the river. The stretch of the river above the cauld (weir) is known as The Minnie – short for the Minister’s Pool - and I am standing, at what I think is called the Boat Hole, below my favourite tree – the one that trails its lower branches in the water, and has grown in a corner beside a stone wall so that over the years the tree trunk has grown into the wall. Part of the wall has now collapsed but the tree-captured stones are still in their original positions! That’s the Hay Lodge up behind the wall. Here’s a closer view, the side of the building, the curved wall, facing Tweed. It’s all part of the Haylodge hospital complex now. The main hospital is a much more modern building on the other side of the building.
I mentioned the Boat Hole, as I have been following an “old Peebles” Facebook page on which various people have talked about it. It certainly appears to have been here that you could once hire out rowing boats. (Having read through some more of the website’s entries, and posting my own questions, I have found out that the boat hole is actually where the Cuddy Burn meets Tweed,
which is just a bit above the cauld. You can see the boats in the photo above (on the left). There’s a bridge across Cuddy there now.
You can get a wider overview of things in the next old photo as I’ve marked a blue dot at the boat hole and a red dot at my fave tree! – both of which I hope you can see when you enlarge the photo. When I do my river walk I generally walk up the bank on the right; crossing the Cuddy by the small iron bridge ; almost as far as the castle, then across the river by the foot bridge in among the trees - it wasn’t built when this photo was taken – and back, following the river bank on the other side. It’s interesting to see the old photo as you can see one of the two railway stations there were in Peebles until about the 1950s/60s The line emerged from a tunnel up among the trees - marked with a green spot - and came straight down to the Caledonian station, continuing to Galashiels There are houses now where the station used to be, and the line has gone – though you can still see, and walk through, the tunnel - if you’re brave enough! That’s the station you see through one of the arches of Tweed Bridge.
It’s fascinating looking at the old photos and seeing the changes that have been made. This photo is the view in the opposite direction to the one above. The cauld is just off to the right, as is the station, but you can see the old Tweedside Woollen Mill, beside the Parish Church; the High Street heading off to the left; the Cuddy Burn flowing (Left to right) on its way to join Tweed; and the triangular Tweed Green on the town side of the river at the top of the picture. This mill burned down in the 1960s – quite a sight
and was eventually replaced by the swimming pool. There were other woollen mills in the town and along the valley too,
There was the other station too.
This was the station where trains from Edinburgh terminated, until the line was extended over the river (behind Priorsford footbridge) to join the east west line, Symington to Galashiels. The Caledonian line closed in the 1950s,
but the Edinburgh-Peebles line lasted a bit longer, only to be closed about 10 years later, by the notorious Dr Beeching, the minister for transport at the time. He closed down lots of rural lines throughout Britain that were said to be unviable (Some are being reinstated now!).
With an increasing amount of traffic on the roads, the Northgate, the main road into Peebles, fairly narrow in the first place, proved too narrow for two way traffic - imagine cars parked along just one side - so the station was demolished; the old railway line lifted; and the line widened and turned into the Relief Road, now the main route into town from the north. The old Northgate or North Road is now one way, from the town out, and forms a short cut to the Edinburgh Road from the High Street…
Well, I think that’s enough history for just now. Peebles used to be a vibrant little town, even having two cinemas, several churches, a post office, grocers shops, fishmongers, chemists, bakers, jewellers, boot and shoe makers, a harness-maker’s…… the list goes on. Would you like to see some of the old shops next time? More on them soon then. I have a cracker of a cold right now so won’t be able to get out anywhere else – shame, when the weather is so nice.
Talk again soon.