Johnís Tour of the Borders

John Rogerson

2nd December 2009


President Murray Dickson welcomed 99 members of the Old Gala Club to the meeting on 2nd December 2009 in the packed Upper Volunteer Hall.


The speaker was club member John Rogerson who gave an illustrated talk ĎJohnís Tour of the Bordersí.

The journey began with a visit to Hartfell Spa near Moffat, which was popular in Victorian times, then to Hawkslaw Burn where there is a memorial to the Porteous family.

After viewing the wrought iron gate at Tweedsmuir Kirk and hearing about the Covenanter John Hunter, John showed the plaque in the dyke marking the site of Linkumdoddie which Robert Burns described in his poem Willie Wastle.


Pictures of Lyne Kirk and Kirkyard was followed by details of the Murray family of Darnhall, now Barony Castle at Eddleston.  In the grounds there is an ice house and also a summerhouse, known as the Bellevue Temple, the family graveyard, and a relief map of Scotland which was built by the owner in the 1970s.

Photographs taken from the steeple of Peebles Parish Church showed views of the town and John  described places of interest.


After a stop at Innerleithen, the former Buttercup Dairy and Jenny Baptieís Well, we continued into Berwickshire.John told us about the tradition of land fasting at the Polwarth Thorn and at Greenlaw, onetime county town of Berwickshire.  Slides depicted views from the church tower, formerly the jail, a picture of a cell and the bell which was gifted by Sir Patrick Hume.  Two landmines exploded in Greenlaw in 1941 causing considerable damage and four soldiers billeted in the town, lost their lives.


The Commonwealth War Graves in Fogo Churchyard reminded us of the airfield at Charterhall and the dangers the airmen faced there.


After a visit to the ruined Preston Kirk, where there is probably the only surviving piscina in the Borders, we saw the Motte at Makerstoun and heard about Thomas McDougall Brisbane.


Returning to Gala we were treated to slides of shop fronts with cast ironwork, gateposts at Abbots Knowe and the frontage of George Hope Taitís building in the High Street. John has long been curious as to why the carved figures of a monkey and a bear are on the tower of the War Memorial and a visit to the offices of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland to inspect Robert Lorimerís plans was to no avail.


The Scottish National War Memorial also features numerous sculptures of animals and one of sculptors was Phyllis Bone who was responsible for the Monkey and Bear at Gala.


Boneís carvings alongside the work of Pilkington Jackson can also be seen in the Lucy Sanderson Homes which opened in 1933.  A series of murals there by William Rawson Lawson and Miss M. Caird depict work in the textile industry.


John concluded his talk with a view from Roger Quinís stone on Gala Hill where the poet said he would

ďGaze on Scotlandís EdenĒ.


The evening closed with a vote of thanks from Norman Houldsworth.