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|Scottish Gaelic: Na Pùballan|
Bridge over the River Tweed in Peebles
Peebles' Coat of Arms
Peebles shown within the Scottish Borders
|OS grid reference|
|Council area||Scottish Borders|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale|
|Scottish Parliament||Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.|
Peebles (Scottish Gaelic: Na Pùballan) is a royal burgh in Tweeddale (of which it is the county town), within the Scottish Borders region. According to the 2001 Census, the population was 8,159.
Initially a market town, Peebles played a role in the woollen industry of the Borders up until the 1960s. Although one woollen mill remains operational in the town, the industrial composition of Peebles has changed; the town is now home to many people who commute to work in Edinburgh, as well as being a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer. In the mid-to-late 19th century, this included health tourism, centring around hydropathic establishments, which over time morphed into a hotel format, with Peebles Hydro Hotel being one of the few survivors of that era. Notable buildings in the town include the Old Parish Church of Peebles and Neidpath Castle. Other local attractions include a museum and the Kailzie Gardens. Peebles has the highest shoe shop to population ratio in the UK. It has won multiple awards for an excellent range of shops on its High Street.
Peebles lies at the confluence of the River Tweed and Eddleston Water (locally called "the Cuddy"). The Tweed flows west to east, and the Eddleston flows from the north, turning to flow south-west 300 yards before the confluence. This south-westerly turn demarcates a raised triangular piece of land, open to the east but contained by the rivers to the south and north. The name is generally accepted to come from the Brythonic pebyll tents, signifying a temporary settlement.
The eastern side was defended in historic times by a town wall, which ran in an east facing arc, through which the road to Glentress passed at the East Gate. The road passing through this gate, the Eastgate, is one of four gates in Peebles, the others being Northgate, Bridgegate (where the Eddleston Water was crossed to the north of town), and Ludgate (the western gate of the town), now called Young Street.
At the junction of Eastgate and Northgate roads, where the Eastgate becomes High Street, is an ancient market cross. The present-day market is held in the station car park, to the north and south ends of which are the remains of the town wall. Peebles High Street runs parallel with the Tweed along the spine of a ridge, at the west end of which is the parish church.
Historic features and traditions
The oldest building in Peebles is the tower of St Andrew's Church. The church was founded in 1195. It was destroyed (along with many other Borders abbeys and priories) by the soldiers of Henry VIII. The stones of the ruins were pilfered for many other local buildings leaving only the tower standing amongst the gravestone of the churchyard. Another ancient church in the town is the Cross Kirk, founded in 1261. Although now mainly ruins, the Cross Kirk plays a prominent part in the local festival.
The annual local festival in Peebles is called the Beltane, and involves (as with many Borders festivals) a Common Riding. The Beltane, proclaimed at the cross, culminates with the crowning of the Beltane Queen (a girl chosen from one of three local primary schools) along with her court, including the likes of the First and Second Courtiers, Sword Bearer and Standard Bearer; on the steps in front of the parish church. The adult principal of the festival is the Cornet, a local young man chosen by the organising committee on a basis of being considered worthy of representing the town, who then carries the town standard for a year.
To the west of the town is Neidpath Castle, which can be reached on foot through Hay Lodge Park, the route offering spectacular views of the castle. The castle is now closed to the public.
On the south side of High Street are the old burgh offices. These incorporate the town's library, art gallery and local museum. The building occupied by these are called the Chambers Institution, being deeded to the town by William Chambers, a member of the Chambers publishing family who originated in the town. Chambers' house can be found on the oldest street in Peebles - Biggiesknowe.
Peebles' coat of arms
The coat of arms of the Burgh of Peebles can be seen in several places in the area. It is described as Gules, three salmons counternaiant proper. The motto is Contra Nando Incrementum, Latin for "There is increase by swimming against the stream", referring to the annual migration of salmon up the River Tweed.
The arms is very old, and can be traced to a seal that appears on an impression of 1473. It is very similar to that of Ångermanland, a historic province of Sweden. The choice of red for the field instead of the traditional blue is unclear. It was matriculated by the Lord Lyon in 1894 after a petition by the Town Clerk, William Buchan, who had received a letter from A. C. Fox-Davies, author of The Book of Public Arms, questioning the right to use it.
Traditionally, a person born in Peebles was called a gutterbluid, although few people can now claim that distinction as Peebles no longer has a hospital. Most babies are born in Edinburgh or Borders General Hospital at Melrose.
- Eric Bogle (b. 1944), folk musician resident in Australia, born in Peebles
- Scott Brash (b. 1985), olympic gold medallist
- John Buchan (1875–1940), practised law in Peebles, and his house (opposite the old Sheriff Court) bears a commemorative plaque
- Robert Chambers (1802–1871), publisher and author of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
- John Mathison (1901–1982), New Zealand MP born in Peebles
- Mungo Park (1771–1806), practised medicine, and his house on the north of the Cuddy bears a commemorative plaque
- Callum James Greens (b. 1982) music producer, raised in Peebles from birth and attended both Priorsford Primary School and Peebles High School
- Kevin Thomson (b. 1984) footballer currently playing for Hibernian FC, grew up in Peebles
In 2014 Creative Scotland named Peebles the most creative place of its size in Scotland, presenting the town with a Creative Place Award and £100,000 to enhance arts events, festivals, and arts commissions. Most arts performances take place in the Eastgate Theatre on the High Street which has a year round programme of music, drama, dance, talks and classes for children and adults. The town also has four major annual festivals - the Beltane Festival, Peebles Arts Festival, Tweedlove Bike Festival and Imaginarium.
Just south of the town Glentress Forest is the base for some of the best mountain biking in the country, attracting over 300,000 visitors a year - many making full use of the huge variety of hotels, guest houses and campsites in and around the town.
Peebles has three primary schools, the state Kingsland and Priorsford Schools and the Roman Catholic Halyrude Primary School, and the largest secondary school in the Borders, Peebles High School, which is attended by pupils from all over Tweeddale.
In 2005, a study by the New Economics Foundation ranked Peebles as the best town in Scotland (second best in the UK, after Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire), for range of independent shops and 'home town identity'.
- "An Stòr-dàta Briathrachais" (in Scottish Gaelic). University of the Highlands and Islands. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
- "Peebles". Town and village profiles. Scottish Borders. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- Bradley, James; Dupree, Mageurite; Durie, Alastair (1997). "Taking the Water Cure: The Hydropathic Movement in Scotland, 1840-1940" (PDF). Business and Economic History 26 (2): 426–437. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- Pringle, George C. (1914). "County and Shire - The Origins of Peebles and Selkirk". Peebles and Selkirk. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- Urquhart, R.M. Scottish Burgh and County Heraldry (1973 ed.). Heraldry Today. p. 230. consulted 19 December 2013.
- Carvel, John (6 June 2005). "Retail chains 'cloning' UK towns". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- Chambers, William (1843). A History of Peeblesshire (8th ed.). Edinburgh & London: William and Robert Chambers. Retrieved 6 December 2009. Full text at Google Books.
- Joe Brown and Iain Lawson, History of Peebles: 1850-1990 (Mainstream) 1990.
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