VIRTUAL TOUR - FIRST TALE
Hall's History of Galashiels has several Maps of the Burgh --- the earliest is dated 1795 and then he trots them out at roughly 30 year intervals and they do illustrate the Development of the Burgh.
One thing to be picked up from the 1795 Map is the fact that The Dam is already built and it feeds three Mills and its line is more-or-less what it is Today, starting at the top of Wilderhaugh --- in line with the foot of Lee Brae and returning into the Gala just about level with The Sker. The extension to feed Abbots Mill and run down to Netherdale must have been later but, again, I have not been able to discover the dates.
The other thing that strikes one is the fact that the River Gala had carved out a great many "haughs" --- the 1795 Map has ten of them altogether, nine one the South Bank and one on the North. It was on the haughs on the South Bank that the Burgh began to grow.
A description of Galashiels in the 1820s spoke of the place being …"Practically one long street which imitates the path of the stream from which its name is taken." If you look at a view of the Burgh taken from Wylie's Brae, you will get at good notion of what that Observer was meaning.
By the 1860s, these riverside haughs were more-or-less all used up, Mills, Houses, Shops, Workshops, Kirks, Hotels and Pubs were all there and if we use the 1867/68 Valuation Roll as a guide we could take a VIRTUAL TOUR of the Burgh.
Let's be coming from SELKIRK …. The road we travel along is the same one as it is Today, that is, the line that it used to take before the Netherbarns and Kingsknowes alterations came into being. Some of the "big hooses" were there, where the Park is and the Tweed Road area was still farmland and what was still referred to as The New Road hit the Burgh and then, as know, it was called Abbotsford Road. Over on our right is Abbots Place and Croft Street, we journey on and we notice that Thornbank, Greenbank, Galabank and Hill Streets shoot off down the escarpment, we take Hill Street and we are in Huddersfield Street. If we make a Right we would travel along a narrow road that seemed to be carved out of the escarpment and then we would come to a "village" ---- Netherdale. Two storey tenement houses clustering round Netherdale Mill. However, if we make a Left at the foot of Hill Street, we pass between some Mills and come into Paton Street and on the right are some houses which are called Damside.
Past Damside we come to what is known today as Corn Mill Square but in these days there was a Mill with its machinery driven by a fall in the Dam, which can still be seen. Now, if we take a Left by the Corn Mill we will pass the fairly new Burgh Buildings and get ourselves into Albert Place and some more tenement houses and a builder's yard. Opposite the builder's yard one would see a terrace dug out of the top of the escarpment, this place is known locally as The Bow Butts where, in ancient times, Galaleans practised their Archery. Progress eastward and we come to The English Kirk …. Or The Episcopalian Church in Scotland to give it its proper name. Here, we make a Right and we are into Church Street, go along it until you have The Parish Kirk on your right and opposite its entrance on the left there is The School Close, go up it and past The School Court in which stands a Primary School and a few houses and you get yourself into Tea Street. Tea Street then joins Elm Row.
Now if you make a Left and go up the hill, you will get yourself on to The Old Selkirk Road which will take you past Hollybush and The Rink Farms and will put you to ford the Tweed at Sunderland Haugh and thence to Selkirk. However, if you take a Right at the Gala House Lodge and go down Elm Row you would pass the Merket Cross and you could take a track down the Escarpment that later gets known as The Lawyers Brae when two gents of that profession build houses at the top of the Escarpment. If you had made a Left at the Merket Cross you would have taken a track down the hill to Gala House with its fairly extensive Gardens but since we do not have an open invitation to call --- we don't; we go down the Lawyers' Brae and we are into what used to be called Scott Place but since the National Bank has just recently built a fine new building half way along this street, the Commissioners of Police (the fore-runners of The Town Council) decided to call this street, Bank Street.
Go the length of Bank Street and you will notice that there are houses on the right and gardens on the left --- this (it appears) was no accident. The Builder was inspired by Princes Street in Edinburgh --- where just such an arrangement was in situ. Now, at the West end of Bank Street stood a Mill, not so long ago demolished, the ground it used to occupy is now given over to Gardens and beyond this Mill was a fairly open space --- and in 1868 this was known as Market Street. Modern Bank Street does open out at this juncture and the fact that there used to be space for Trader's Stalls is a little difficult to see Today. I have not been able to discover just exactly when Trading ceased nor even when the name was changed but I would guess it to be roughly in the mid 1870s. From Bank Street there are two ways into Overhaugh Street. From Market Street and one travels the entire length of it, or, from half way along Bank Street you could nip through Bank Close and go past a small square called Bank Court. If you walked to the East end of Overhaugh Street you would come in a street coming down from The Corn Mill Square, this was known as Sharp Street … this street is the modern Market Street and in 1868, The Bakehouse Burn ran down its length on a line that roughly corresponds with the pavement that runs in front of Lunn's and Cockburn's shops. The Bakehouse Burn "crossed" the Dam just as it can be seen to do Today and from the Corn Mill it ran in a stone clad culvert under what is now The Auld Mill Inn and emerged at the other side. In those days, the block that is now the wee Papershop and not so long ago was a Toyshop, had not been built. The block that stand back a bit which currently houses a laundrymart and the block that houses four shops --- Lunn's and Cockburn being two --- were built. The pend up which is a Bookies' place was there in these days but the building that houses the Indian Restaurant was not. There was a bridge over the burn to the pend and the pend was the entrance into a Corn Merchant's Warehouse --- one can see something of this by the stairway and the gallery at the top of the stairway just beyond the Bookies' door.
The Burn ran diagonally across the space we now call The Market Square and joined with another waterway which was called The Channel and then this combined burn took a Right just about at the entrance into the Railway Inn yard, ran about 50 meters parallel with the Gala and then joined it.
Coming down Overhaugh Street and making that Right into Sharp Street and heading back to the corn Mill Square, there was, on the left, Green Street, or "The Cuddy Green" as the Auld Yins of the 1860s would have called it.
Making a Left at the foot of Overhaugh Street one would come to The Subscription School, nicknamed "The Subby" in its day, this stood where the plaza now stands and next on was Channel Street, again it might be referred to by the Auld Yins as just "The Channel". It would seem that there were buildings on the left of the street as one went up it --- buildings on the right seemed to be almost on the line of what was later a separate street called Gala Lane … but in 1868, this name was not used. Just about where the Pavilion Cinema --- that is the old Fife & Fife theatre half way up Channel Street, as opposed to the modern "Pavilion" which my generation still call "The Playhoose" --- where the old "Piv." Used to stand was another School, called The Wee Schuill but just Why, I have not been able to discover.
Up where the Royal Hotel complex stands was once a Tannery and it is believed that the water course known as The Channel was little more as a conduit for conducting effluent from the Tannery --- a problem that exercised the Galashiels Commissioners of Police quite a lot!
Going up Channel Street, past the Tannery, one would come to the magnificent and very new Victoria Buildings and thence, into Channel Street. Two things to notice as we go up High Street, on the right, there was the new East Parish Church with its railings, gate and front lawn --- now all paved over and used for street-side sales. Then, on the left there was another set of ornate gates and a short drive way to the very new and posh Town Hall.
When you came to the top of High Street, one would be at a cross-roads; take a Right and one was into Bridge Place and across The Stane Brig into Buckholmside "village", one would pass The Bridge Inn, looking then very much as it looks Today and its external stairs to the flat above it are still there it is a house called Ballencrief …. It was from the top of these steps that The Riot Act was read to a mob in the 1840s when Galaleans had more than just a difference of opinion with the Itinerants who were in the Burgh building the Railway Line!
Make a left at the cross-roads and one is in Roxburgh Street which has high and low density housing, a Mill, a school and school house and at the top practically dug into the Escarpment, a Smiddy and a "Gents" --- one of a pair which were built in the 1850s, the other being in Bank Street and both "emptied" into the Dam! The Mill is called Botany Mill and the Valuation Roll has 5 dwellings located within its confines, interestingly enough three of the "Tenants" are not listed as being anything to do with Textile Trade --- there is a Butcher, a Railwayman and a Draper. The street curls along the foot of the Escarpment passing between it and a Mill and then joins up with Hall Street.
Go straight on at the cross-roads and one is in Island Street which is a mixture of housing and of shops, at the top of the street is a Secessionist Church which not long after the date of our Tour is done away with and the congregation move to Ladhope Church. Talking about Kirks, almost in the confines of Botany Mill but not quite … the sect known as The Glassites build a kirk … this is now a Listed Building ….. Hall Street runs south from Island Street and continues up what is now called Kirk Brae but in these days it was a track up to Hemphaugh Farm and continued up the hill hooking itself over The Windyknowe and an 1850s Map called this "Old Road to Peebles" Up this road and over the Windyknowe are a few "Big Hooses" and it carried on until one came to a few blocks of tenement houses which get styled Wood Street which are adjacent to a few more which get styled Kilnknowe, identifying which is which proved difficult and the best I could do was to state that the block of old houses on the Right at the top of Lee Brae were "Kilnknowe" ; the old houses on the Left were Wood Street. Continue up this road and one comes to more "big hooses", The Torwoodlee Estate, Clovenfords and, eventually to Peebles.
Running between Roxburgh Street and Hall Street, is Union Street with its Congregational Church, a few houses and a Mill and a Smiddy. Running on from the Island Street /Hall street junction is Queen Street and running from the road to Peebles and Dargie Steps is Tweed Place ---- so called because of Tweed Mill at the bottom of Lee Brae … this gets changed to Duke Street in the 1930s to avoid confusion with Tweed Road, Tweed Terrace etc., Just above this, there is a clachan that gets called Wheatlands which appears to have three or four cottage dwellings and then it is up Lee Brae, turn hard left and track back across the Windyknowe, or carry on past Kilnknowe and Wood Street.
The Virtual Tour has taken us over all the Haughs in the 1795 map and we have a picture of how things looked in 1868 and also how much, as the 1820s Observer stated … the one long street imitates the path of the stream … for good reason --- the Mills need the Water ; Galaleans need the Water.