Galashiels

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Coordinates: 55°37′10″N 2°48′12″W / 55.61945°N 2.80339°W / 55.61945; -2.80339

Galashiels
Scottish Gaelic: An Geal Àth
Scots: Gallae
Galashiels is located in Scottish Borders
Galashiels
Galashiels
 Galashiels shown within the Scottish Borders
Population 12,367 
OS grid reference NT495365
Council area Scottish Borders
Lieutenancy area Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Galashiels
Postcode district TD1
Dialling code 01896
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
Scottish Parliament Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale
List of places
UK
Scotland
Galashiels
Elevation 161 m (528 ft)

Galashiels (/ˌɡæləˈʃəlz/ GAL-ə-SHEE-əlz; Scots: Gallae,[1] Scottish Gaelic: An Geal Àth)[2] is a burgh in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland, on the Gala Water river. The name is often shortened to "Gala" (/ˈɡælə/ GAL).

Galashiels is a major commercial centre for the Scottish Borders. The town is known for textile making, and is the location of Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design, Galashiels Academy and one campus of the Borders College, which as of 2009 has moved and now joins with the University.

History[edit]

Bank Street Gardens, Galashiels

To the west of the town there is an ancient earthwork known as the Picts' Work Ditch or Catrail. It extends many miles south and its height and width varies. There is no agreement about the purpose of the earthwork. There is another ancient site on the north west edge of the town, at Torwoodlee, an Iron Age hill fort, with a later Broch known as Torwoodlee Broch built in the Western quarter of the hill fort, and overlapping some of the defensive ditches of the original fort. The Romans destroyed the broch in AD 140, soon after it was completed.

The town's coat of arms shows two foxes reaching up to eat plums from a tree, and the motto is Sour Plums pronounced in Scots as soor plooms.[3] It is a reference to an incident in 1337 when a raiding party of English soldiers were picking wild plums close to the town and were caught by Scots who came across them by chance and slaughtered them all.[citation needed]

On a hillside to the north of the town, Buckholm Tower is a prominent structure which dates back to 1582 and replaced another tower built on the same site but destroyed around 1570.

In 1599 Galashiels received its burgh Charter, an event celebrated every summer since the 1930s by the "Braw Lads Gathering" with riders on horseback parading through the town.

Galashiels' population grew fast with through the textile trade with several mills. A connection with the town's mill history, the Mill Lade, still links the town from near the site of mills at Wheatlands Road, to Netherdale, via Wilderhaugh, Bank Street, the Fountain and next to the Tesco/retail development Street.

Notable people[edit]

The Braw Lad and Lass crossing the Tweed

Sport[edit]

The following sports clubs are based in Galashiels:

In culture[edit]

Braw Lads Gathering 2011

Robert Burns wrote two poems about Galashiels, "Sae Fair Her Hair" and "Braw Lads". The latter is sung by the some of the townsfolk each year at the Braw Lads Gathering. Sir Walter Scott built his home, Abbotsford, just across the River Tweed from Galashiels. The Sir Walter Scott Way, a long-distance path from Moffat to Cockburnspath passes through Galashiels.

There is some largely good-hearted rivalry between some of the Galashiels townsfolk and those of other border towns, particularly Hawick, the largest town in the Scottish Borders. Galashiels's citizens often refer to their rival as dirty Hawick while the 'Teries' retort that Galashiels's residents are pail merks, supposedly because their town was the last to be plumbed into the mains water system and so residents had to rely on buckets as toilets.[5]

A tourism guide, based on the experiences of travellers, once described Galashiels as a place "which is hard to avoid" due to it being a transport hub and centrally based in the Borders and being "unwelcoming during the day" and having an "air of menace" about it at night.[citation needed]

Galashiels was also home to the author of the famous Scottish song, "Coulters Candy". Robert Coltart was a weaver in the town, but also made confectionery in nearby Melrose. The song was created as an advertisement, and hence was renamed as "Sugar Candy" when played by the BBC. The song is possibly better known by the first line of its chorus - "Ally, bally, ally bally bee". Coltart died in 1890.

The 1985 Marillion hit single Kayleigh was partially inspired by events that took place in Galashiels as the band's lead singer Fish spent some time in the town in his earlier years. In 2012 the Scottish Borders Council undertook work to revamp the Market Square with lyrics of the song inscribed into the paving slabs. Fish officially reopened the square on completion later that year.

Transport[edit]

In 1969, the historic Waverley line which connected the Scottish Borders to the national rail network was closed as part of a wider series of cuts to British Railways. The closure led to a campaign for a return of rail to the region that never diminished.

Following years of campaigning, in 2006, the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament, which authorised a partial restoration of the service. The new Borders Railway will see four new stations built in Midlothian and three in the Scottish Borders. Trains will run every half hour at peak times and Journey times between Tweedbank and Edinburgh will take less than one hour.

For most of the route the original line will be followed with 30 miles of new railway line needing to be built. The project is currently estimated to cost £294 million and has an estimated completion date of Summer 2015.

The town also has a large central bus station which is currently closed while a new station is built that will better suit the needs of passengers when the Borders Railway is complete. Temporary bus stops have been created along the road that ran past the old bus station while the new station is under construction.

Education[edit]

The following are listed by Scottish Borders Council as being in the Galashiels Area and are catchment schools for Galashiels Academy.

Primary schools

  • Balmoral Primary
  • Burgh Primary
  • Caddonfoot Primary, Clovenfords
  • Fountainhall Primary, Midlothian
  • Glendinning Terrace Primary
  • Heriot Primary, Midlothian
  • Langlee Primary
  • Stow Primary (Stow)
  • St Margaret's RC Primary (Catholic School)
  • St Peter's Primary
  • Tweedbank Primary

Secondary schools

Higher education

Netherdale in Galashiels is home to Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design,[6] which is also a shared campus of Borders College.

Redevelopment[edit]

A protest sign on Blaikie's Hill

Despite the town's relatively low population, the early 2000s saw many new developments, including Asda, Boots pharmacy, Halfords, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, McDonald's, Next, Subway fast-food outlet and Tesco Extra. Most of these are on former mill and industrial estate sites, while other disused mills have been converted to living accommodation.

Unusual landmarks or local features[edit]

The town is home to the Glasite church, in danger of being lost,[7] but still standing sandwiched between mills and shop buildings on High Street, Botany Lane and Roxburgh Street.

Netherdale is home to Gala RFC and Gala Fairydean Rovers, with the football and rugby stadiums adjoining each other at one end. The football club's main stand was built in 1963 to designs by Peter Womersley, based in nearby Gattonside. The cantilevered concrete structure, in the Brutalist style, is now protected as a Category A listed building.[8]

Suburbs[edit]

Balmoral[edit]

Located in the south west of the town on Meigle Hill. Mainly ex-local authority houses and currently very popular in the housing market. Served by Balmoral Primary School. Balmoral connects with Windyknowe and Gala Park where there are some stone built properties dating from the Victorian era as well as private housing from the 70s and 80s near to the Victoria Park.

Langlee[edit]

Built on both sides of Melrose Road to the east of the town and north of the Gala Water and River Tweed. Consists of ex-local authority homes and a handful of older, stone-built properties along the Melrose Road. This is also high crime area for the town also famous WILL BROWN stays here with Suzi from Maccy D

Halliburton[edit]

Sits high up the hill as you leave Galashiels on the A7 towards Edinburgh at the north-west of the town. Comprises two large streets (Halliburton Place and Glendinning Terrace) that run parallel with Magdala Terrace and further on Bristol Terrace, which make up part of the A7. Because of the location, this area has spectacular views across Galashiels and over to Meigle Hill.

Ladhope[edit]

Neighbouring Halliburton, Ladhope, comprising homes from the past four decades, stretches high up on the hillside, largely connecting Halliburton to the High Road, Melrose Road area of Galashiels. It is also home to Galashiels Golf Club and Heatheryetts grave yard overlooking much of the centre and north west of town.

Torwoodlee / Kilnknowe[edit]

Torwoodlee and Kilnknowe are in the north west of the town. The main street running through this area is Wood Street, and is part of the A72, that carries on to Clovenfords, Innerleithen and Peebles. Kilnknowe Place, Balnakiel Terrace, Torwoodlee Road, Pringle Lane and Blynlee Lane, mainly ex-local authority houses from the 1970s, are streets in this area, and are within a ten-minute walk of the town centre This area looks across the valley of Gala Water and has spectacular views of Buckholm Tower. From the 1990s onwards new homes have been built, forming areas such as Woodlea and William Law Gardens.

Netherdale[edit]

In the east of the town, Netherdale is home to Gala RFC and Gala Fairydean Rovers F.C.. The Scottish Borders campus of Heriot-Watt University is located here also.[9] Netherdale is a possible location for one of the two new primary schools needing built in Galashiels due to the town expanding. Netherdale is also home to the 'Raid Stane' (Raid Stone). This stone marks the site of skirmish between the residents of Galashiels and English raiders during the Scottish wars of independence. The stone is marked by a small sign, located on the lawn next to Netherdale car park.

Kingsknowes[edit]

The area most vehicles pass through; Kingsknowes is in the extreme south of Galashiels. The A7 from Selkirk enters from the south-west up to Kingsknowes roundabout before heading north-west into Galashiels. The A6091 starts here and heads east past Tweedbank, Darnick, Melrose and Newstead to the A68. This is the preferred route from Carlisle to Edinburgh as the A7 loses its Trunk Road status here. This area is considered one of the most desirable areas to live in due to its modern construction and design.

Town centre[edit]

In Galashiels, Channel Street is considered the main shopping street and has a pedestrian precinct and other traffic calming measures to ensure shopping in the town is a pleasurable experience. Most visitors will appreciate Bank Street gardens situated in the town centre. There is an award-winning war memorial by Robert Lorimer constructed in the style of a Peel Tower fronted by a statue of a Border Reiver. Galashiels also has a multi-screen cinema on Market Street and along with several restaurants and night-clubs gives Galashiels a very urban and city-like feel despite its comparatively small population

The Old Town[edit]

Now a mixture of housing and a busy thoroughfare through town, this part of Galashiels has a market or mercat cross and is surrounded by remnants of the town's history, with a former cloth hall, the Gala Aisle, and Tea Street in the neighbouring area.

Tweedbank[edit]

Tweedbank is south of Galashiels, centred around Gunknowe Loch, also known as Tweedbank Pond. There is a small late shop, a primary school, a community centre - used for scouts, guides, rainbows etc. - and the newest addition to Tweedbank is a bar and restaurant located next to the loch. Tweedbank also has an industrial estate and is home to radio station, Radio Borders. The town will also be the terminus of The Borders Railway. Although now technically separate, Tweedbank's population is often lumped in with Galashiels, with a total area population of 14361 recorded in the 2001 census.[10]

The Black Path[edit]

This particular geographical feature links Langlee and Tweedbank to the town centre. It will be replaced when The Borders Railway is rebuilt. A section of the Black Path links to the Southern Upland Way.

Other areas[edit]

Other areas not listed include Windyknowe, between Galapark and Wood Street, and Glenfield/Langhaugh between the town centre and Langlee where housing developments have seen these places expand in recent years. Both have elderly residential homes complexes. Not formally part of one area or another, there are also streets of former mill terraces just off the town centre, including at St John Street, Gala Park and Scott Street. These link with parts of the Old Town and bear similarities here with blocks of flats dating from the 1960s and 70s evident among the terraces. Also away from town are places such as Duke Street, King Street and Union Street where again, mill terraces dominate but their former associated workplaces have long since been demolished to be replaced with modern retail or business units. Duke Street almost stands alone but was once connected to Wilderhaugh with terraced rows such as Queen Street once forming an almost unbroken link. There are also 1960s/70s flats mixed with terraces around Netherdale, including at Dale Street and Greenbank Street.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]