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Coordinates: 55°37′10″N 2°48′12″W / 55.6194°N 2.8033°W / 55.6194; -2.8033
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Bank Street Gardens in Galashiels, 2011
Galashiels is located in Scottish Borders
Location within the Scottish Borders
Population10,060 (2020)[1]
OS grid referenceNT495365
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townGalashiels
Postcode districtTD1
Dialling code01896
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°37′10″N 2°48′12″W / 55.6194°N 2.8033°W / 55.6194; -2.8033

Galashiels (/ˌɡæləˈʃəlz/; Scots: Gallae,[2] Scottish Gaelic: An Geal Àth)[3] is a town in the Scottish Borders with a population of around 12,600. Its name is often colloquially shortened to "Gala".[4] The town is a major commercial centre for the Borders region with extensive history in the textile industry. Galashiels is the location of Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design.[5]


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 vary. There is no agreement about the purpose of the earthwork. There is another ancient site on the north-western 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 140 CE, 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.[6] This 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.[7]

On a hillside to the north of the town, Buckholm Tower is a prominent structure that dates back to 1582 and replaced an earlier 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 Burgh Chambers were designed in the Scottish Renaissance style and completed in 1867.[8]

The Paton Street drill hall was completed in the late 19th century.[9] The textile trade caused Galashiels' population to increase dramatically from 800 residents at the start of the nineteenth century to 19,553 by 1890.[10] 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.

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 accommodations.


Galashiels Burgh Chambers

Local government services for Galashiels are provided by the Scottish Borders Council. There is also a community council covering the town.[11] Galashiels was designated a burgh of barony in 1599 and later became a police burgh by 1868.[12] Galashiels Burgh Chambers on Albert Place was built in 1867.[13]

When elected county councils were created in 1890 under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, burghs which met certain criteria were excluded from the area under the control of the county councils. There was disagreement between Galashiels and Selkirkshire County Council as to whether these criteria applied to Galashiels. The case went to court, and the Scottish Supreme Court found that Galashiels was entirely responsible for its own affairs and should neither be represented on nor taxed by Selkirkshire County Council.[14] Further local government reform in 1930 brought the burgh of Galashiels within the area controlled by the county council, with the town being reclassified as a small burgh, ceding most of its functions to the county council.[15]

In 1975, local government across Scotland was reformed under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. The burghs and counties were abolished as administrative areas and replaced with a two-tier system of upper-tier regions and lower-tier districts. Galashiels therefore became part of the Ettrick and Lauderdale district within the Borders region.[16] Ettrick and Lauderdale District Council used Galashiels Burgh Chambers as its headquarters.[17] Further local government reform in 1996 abolished the regions and districts, since when Galashiels has been administered by Scottish Borders Council.[18]


The arts[edit]

Robert Burns wrote two poems about Galashiels, "Sae Fair Her Hair" and "Braw Lads". The latter is sung by 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 next largest town in the Scottish Borders. Galashiels' 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.[19] 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 "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. A statue of Coltart now stands in the Market Square. 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.

A new £6.7m Great Tapestry of Scotland Centre opened in Galashiels on 21 August 2021, to house one of the world’s largest tapestries and community arts projects. The Great Tapestry of Scotland was hand stitched by over 1,000 people across Scotland and had been taken for display around the country throughout its six-years' creation, the original brainchild of Edinburgh-born author Alexander McCall Smith, whose vision it was to create a tapestry telling the history of Scotland. The new purpose-built gallery, visitor centre, café and workshop space has been created and, on the opening day, saw the 160th and final tapestry panel revealed by chief stitcher Dorie Wilkie, accompanied by McCall Smith himself.[20]

The Pavilion Cinema in Market Street opened in 1922 as a cinema, dance hall and theatre, originally named the Playhouse. The auditorium was converted to a bingo hall in the 1960s. The building was refurbished in the early 1990s, with its original art-deco façade being restored. It is now a four-screen cinema.[21]


The following sports clubs are based in Galashiels:


The town is home to the Glasite church, in danger of being lost,[22] 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.[23]

Television and print[edit]

Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC Scotland and ITV Border. Television signal are received from the Selkirk and the local relay transmitters. [24][25]

Local radio stations are BBC Radio Scotland on 93.5 FM, Greatest Hits Radio Scottish Borders and North Northumberland on 96.8 FM and TD1 Radio, a community based radio station that broadcast on 106.5 FM. [26]

The Border Telegraph and Southern Reporter are the town's local newspapers. [27][28]


Galashiels Transport Interchange, a combined bus and railway station, shown in August 2015

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, which links Galashiels with Edinburgh, saw four new stations built in Midlothian and three in the Scottish Borders.

For most of the route, the original line was followed with 30 miles (50 kilometres) of new railway line built. The project is estimated to have cost £294 million and was completed in September 2015, with the formal opening on 9 September by the Queen.[29] Trains from Galashiels railway station run every half-hour going down to hourly in the evening and on Sundays. Journey times between Tweedbank and Edinburgh take less than one hour.

The town also has a recently-opened Interchange building which replaces the old bus station and is also situated next to the railway station. It has a café, and upstairs has office space that has been leased to businesses and organizations. It also has toilet and baby-changing facilities, and a travel helpdesk.


Galashiels Academy is the only secondary school in the town

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
  • Clovenfords Primary (moved from Caddonfoot in 2012)
  • Fountainhall Primary, Midlothian
  • Glendinning Terrace Primary
  • Heriot Primary, Midlothian
  • Langlee Primary
  • Stow Primary
  • St Margaret's Roman Catholic Primary
  • St Peter's Primary
  • Tweedbank Primary

Secondary schools

Further and Higher education

Netherdale in Galashiels is home to Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design,[30] which is also a shared campus of Borders College.

Notable people[edit]


Galashiels has an oceanic climate. However, due to its elevated position and distance from the sea, it has colder winters and slightly warmer summers than coastal places such as Edinburgh, Dunbar and Eyemouth. Snow is also much more common in winter, and covers the ground for an average of 38 days a year in an average winter.

Climate data for Galashiels (161 m asl, averages 1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 5.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 0.6
Average rainfall mm (inches) 80.7
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 14.3 11.7 11.3 10.6 10.5 10.6 11.6 11.7 10.8 13.6 14.3 14.2 145.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 47.9 72.1 101.9 136.3 168.4 147.0 152.3 142.2 110.6 79.2 61.4 43.0 1,262.1
Source: Met Office[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  2. ^ "Scots Language - Names in Scots - Places in Scotland".
  3. ^ "An Stòr-dàta Briathrachais". smo.uhi.ac.uk. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  4. ^ "Galashiels and District - Overview of Population, Deprivation, Unemployment and Schools" (PDF). Scottish Borders Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  5. ^ Borders College, About our College, accessed 10 November 2018
  6. ^ John Ruskin (1907). The Works of John Ruskin. Longmans, Green and Co. p. 613.
  7. ^ "Ploom n." Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  8. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Albert Place, Burgh Chambers and Clock Tower, including war memorials, ballustrading and steps (LB31977)". Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Galashiels, Paton Street, Mid Mill". Canmore. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  10. ^ Dennison, E. Patricia (2018). Evolution of Scotland's towns : creation, growth and fragmentation. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-4744-3297-9.
  11. ^ "Galashiels Community Councils". Galashiels Community Council. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  12. ^ "Galashiels Burgh". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  13. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Albert Place, Burgh Chambers and Clock Tower, including war memorials, ballustrading and steps (LB31977)". Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  14. ^ Reid, John Alexander, ed. (1892). "February 23, 1892: The Corporation of the Burgh of Galashiels v. The Selkirk County Council, and John Steedman (Collector of County Rates)". The Poor Law Magazine and Local Government Journal. Edinburgh: James Turner and Company. p. 204. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  15. ^ "Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1929 c. 25, retrieved 23 December 2022
  16. ^ "Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1973 c. 65, retrieved 23 December 2022
  17. ^ "No. 22857". The Edinburgh Gazette. 2 November 1990. p. 2176.
  18. ^ "Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1994 c. 39, retrieved 16 December 2022
  19. ^ "SCOTS - Search".
  20. ^ Stephen, Phyllis (17 August 2021). "The Great Tapestry of Scotland has a new home". The Edinburgh Reporter. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  21. ^ Knox, David (3 November 2022). "Relief as Borders cinema celebrates its centenary". BBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  22. ^ "Glasite Chapel (Former), Botany Lane, Galashiels". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  23. ^ "Gala Fairydean Rovers stand upgraded to A-listed". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Selkirk (The Scottish Borders, Scotland) Full Freeview transmitter". 1 May 2004. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  25. ^ "Freeview Light on the Galashiels (The Scottish Borders, Scotland) transmitter". 1 May 2004. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  26. ^ "TD1 Radio". Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  27. ^ "Border Telegraph". British Papers. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  28. ^ "Southern Reporter". British Papers. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  29. ^ "Queen officially opens Borders-to-Edinburgh railway". BBC. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Textiles & Design".
  31. ^ "Fellows of the Royal Society".
  32. ^ "Galashiels (Scottish Borders) UK climate averages". Met Office. Retrieved 26 December 2021.

External links[edit]