Around the Borders
John Rogerson
9th February 2011


President, Murray Dickson, welcomed members and friends of the Old Gala Club to the meeting on 9th February 2011 in the Upper Volunteer Hall.

The speaker was club member John Rogerson who gave an illustrated talk ‘Around the Borders’.

The journey began with a visit to Talla Reservoir and the nearby Gameshope Valley. Talla was started in 1895 to supply water to Edinburgh and we heard about its construction, which included the building of a railway.

In West Linton we saw the Gifford statue and well which was erected by James Gifford in memory of his wife and family. The statue is a copy and the original is in the Graham Institute. We then heard the history of Drochil Castle, saw the now restored and protected 1712 Adam and Eve Stone in Lyne Churchyard and visited Stobo Church with its mason’s mark.

Near Eddleston we viewed the waterfall at Cowieslinn and Howgate Nick in the Moorfoot Hills. A local worthy used to say that after a winter of heavy snow there would be snow there in June. John missed it by a week in 2010.

In Peebles we saw the 1932 Art Deco cinema, now a shop and opposite the former Whitie’s shop which was built as the Caledonian Hotel in 1886. There was still a dumbwaiter, period fireplaces, the basic hotel laundry and the pulpit newel post from the former Parish Church.

Photographs taken from the steeple of St James’ Church gave interesting views of Innerleithen and the opening times of the ‘Glory Hole’ shop caused amusement.

A visit to Kelso followed then on to the Thomson Memorial at Ednam, the Jed Water, the Baron’s Folly and Peniel Heugh. John reminded us that the cap house there was constructed in Gala.

We saw what remains of Stobs Camp which housed 15,000 soldiers and 6,000 prisoners during WWI, the birthplace of Robert Paterson, Old Mortality in Hawick, the war memorial at Minto, the work of Thomas Clapperton and the Minto Stone which was carved AD 892 and gives the history of Java. It was given to Gilbert Elliot in 1811 by Stanford raffles.

We viewed the Lady’s Bridge at Bowhill, heard the history of Newark and Whitslaid Towers before going to the entrance of Gledswood House. The kites on the gateposts were by John Anderson of Leith Walk Foundry who owned the house from 1817-32 and nearby is a folly framing the Eildons which was erected by George Spottiswoode.

John then took us to a stone seat ‘Wattie’s Seat’ near Williamshope which is said to have been built for Sir Walter Scott when he lived at Ashiestiel. We viewed the Shirra’s Knowe and saw the remains of the railway bridge at Clovenfords before returning to Gala.

In Gala Bowling Club is a likeness of J.J.Jagger wearing a Native American chief’s costume which he was given during a bowling trip to Canada. We saw cast iron roof fittings in Bank Street, tiles in Dalgetty’s in Island Street, Ladhope cemetery, unusual chimneys in Lintburn and Stanley Streets and the refurbished lamp standard in Tweed Crescent. John concluded his talk with a view from Roger Quin’s stone where the poet said he would ‘Gaze on Scotland’s Eden from the spur of Gala Hill’.

Norman Houldsworth gave the vote of thanks.

The next meeting of the Old Gala Club is on 16th March in the Upper Volunteer Hall at 7.30pm when the speaker will show films from the Scottish Screen Archive.