Monday, 15 January 2018

Travel around Earlston in Times Past.


c, 1737  - Craigsford Bridge was built over the Leader Water, carrying what was then  the main route north  and south.

1765 - The Turnpike Act authorised the planning and building of a new road from Lauder to Kelso  via Purveshaugh, near Earlston. 

1768 - A Turnpike Act provided a new road between Lauder and the Tweed at Leaderfoot, the route going by Blainslie and Craisgford to the west of Earlston. with considerable improvement to the existing route between Newtown and Jedburgh and onto Carter Bar. 

1778 - A bridge was built over the River Tweed at Leaderfoot, replacing the ferry crossing. Its narrow structure, more suited  to horses and carts, remained in use for 200 years, until  a new road bridge spanned the river in 1974.  

1795 - The first regular coach service introduced between Kelso and Edinburgh, via Smailholm and Lauder,  with a later stop  at Earlston for changing horses.  The journey initially  took 10 hours!

1830's - The "Tweedside" coach between Kelso and Edinburgh offered a daily service, leaving Edinburgh 8am. Lauder 12.30pm, Earlston 1.30pm and arriving at Kelso 2pm - a six hour journey. 

1834 - Road built between Earlston and Greenlaw.  

1849 - The Waverley Rail Line opened between Edinburgh and Hawick, extended to Carlisle in  1862. 

1850 - A new road was built following the line of the Leader Water, between Lauder and Newtown, via Earlston  (the current Thorn Street).  

1852 -  As the railways took over as a mode of travel,   the last  coach service  was withdrawn from the Borders. On country roads, the only vehicles were private carriages and farm carts. 

1863 - The Berwickshire Railway reached Earlston.  


1865 - The opening of Leaderfoot Viaduct and the completion of the Berwickshire Railway line from Reston to Newtown. 

1890's - The introduction of the "safety bicycle" brought in the first hey days of  leisure cycling. 

1890's - The Arrol-Johnston, built by George Johnston in Glasgow, was one  of the first cars ever built in the world. 

1903 - Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first powered flight. 

1931 - Earlston Aerodrome opened at Purveshaugh, with a William Rodger's plane offering  air displays and passenger flights. 
1948 - Major floods in Berwickshire restricted train traffic  through Earlston to goods only.

1965 - The Berwickshire Railway closed, as part of the Beeching cuts.  

1974  - A new concrete bridge was built over the River Tweed at Leaderfoot to take modern day A68 traffic.   


  • Borders Highway by  John J. Mackay
  • Local Newspapers



Saturday, 23 December 2017


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 
To All Our Blog Readers 


Photographs of Earlston Christmas Lights

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Earlston Enjoys Dances, Parties, Socials and Shows

December is the month for parties, dances, social and shows,  so here are  some photographs from  the past
of people enjoying themselves in Earlston.  

Santa Claus makes a visit to the Sunday School Party, 1938.

WRI Children's Party, 1958.

  Tennis Club Dance, 1959
 - one of the few photographs we have 
showing people actually dancing! 

A break from the dance floor!   Are the men in uniform Polish soldiers, based in the village towards  the end  of the Second World War?    

The Polish wartime dance band playing in the Corn Exchange.

Mill Dance, 1949
The Dramatic Club in the 1950's.

 The Young Wives' Group, 1980's.

Earlston Orchestra in concert, 1898 
- one of the oldest photographs in our collection.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Wheel Women of Earlston

One journalist in the 1890's 
called female cyclists   "wheelwomen". 

Christina  (Tinnie) Notman  of Kidgate.  
The photograph was taken on the A68 with Roosevelt Place seen in the background.

The introduction of the "safety bicycle" in the 1890's led to a hey day for leisure cycling,  For women, cycling  came to represent a freedom they had not experienced before and the activity quickly became associated with the wider movement of  women's emancipation.   

But there  were public outcries at the prospect of these  changes in the social norm,  with much of the criticism focusing on women's dress - notably the new style of bloomers and knickerbockers. These  offered more freedom for movement than women's  usual restrictive dresses, and cycling  fashions became the subject of ridicule in cartoons.
 Couple, Bicycle, Vintage, Advertisement
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Newspapers of the day  abounded  with letters,  articles  and reports  on  the vision of women riding around the countryside.   

In 1894 the Society of Cyclists calling for  "Rational Dress for  Wheelwomen"

An angry  letter condemned "a young woman who spends most of her time in riding  on a man's bicycle, has a good deal to learn in respect of simplicity and neatness of attire", and  one clergyman refused to give communion to women who turned up for church in bloomers or knickerbockers.  

However some  doctors said firmly that, " as those best qualified to judge, they were almost unanimous in declaring that the average standard of health among women, who cycle had shown an appreciable elevation."

So this was the image portrayed in advertisements and posters that conveyed a sense of fun and freedom, with illustrations of happy cyclist  enjoying the fresh air and exercise.  

As one protagonist said 
"A  most exciting and delightful mode of travel".  


Women in Earlston were not going to be left behind in  enjoying this new activity and cycling quickly grew in popularity.   

 Leaving the Egg Packing Station,   1950's

Sandra Wylie, c.1953

But if pundits frowned upon the first women cyclists, what would they have made of the move onto motor cycles?  

 Minnie Silver, 1920's.

An unidentified rider - does anyone know who this is?

Anne Brotherston at Charterhall 
Anne Brotherston on her brother's bike  in East End Woods.

Beatrice Notman (Bea) of  Kidgate

Bike, Bicycle, Hessian, Sacking
Image courtesy of Pixabay

With thanks to everyone who has donated  these photographs 
of Earlston's  women cyclists. 

We would love to hear from you, if you have any photographs 
that can be added to the Auld Earlston collection.
The photographs  can be scanned, copied and returned to you. 

Please contact:  Te/:  01896 848240.  E-Mail: 


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Earlston’s World War One Tributes

As we come to mark Remembrance Sunday and the end of the First World War on 11th November 1918,  memorabilia is featured here from the Auld Earlston collection.

This colourful patriotic certificate was issued to schoolchildren during the First World War, often at Christmas, as here, or a variation of it on Empire Day   

This was the first time that the whole nation had been mobilised to play a part in the war effort, and here young Mary Denham, mother of David Lothian, was commended for helping  " to send some comforts and happiness  to the Brave Men who are Fighting to  uphold the Freedom of our Glorious Empire". 
VAD nurses outside the  Manse, Earlston.  Can anyone identify the nurses?

The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) referred to a voluntary unit providing field nursing services, mainly in hospitals.  It was   founded in 1909 with the help of the Red Cross  and  Order of St. John.  By the summer of 1914 there were over 2,500 Voluntary Aid Detachments in Britain and members eagerly offered their service to the war effort. 

However the Red Cross was reluctant to allow civilian women a role in overseas hospitals and military authorities would not accept VADs at the front line. Most volunteers were of the middle and upper classes and unaccustomed to hardship and traditional hospital discipline, but for many this was an opportunity for freedom from their restricted home environment. 

VADs carried out duties that were less technical, but no less important, than trained nurses. They organised and managed local auxiliary hospitals   throughout Britain, caring for the large number of sick and wounded soldiers. As the war went on, the growing shortage of trained nurses  opened the door for VADs to work overseas.

Well known VAD's included crime writer Agatha Christie, who said  "It was one of the most rewarding professions that anyone can follow”.   Vera Brittain was most famous for writing "Testament of Youth: an autobiographical study of the years 1900–1925".   She became a VAD in 1915 and was posted to France in 1917, writing a  vivid, moving and poignant account of her experiences. 


This little item has perforated edges like a stamp, but no information has been traced on it.  The tiny printing at the bottom says "Society of Poster Art".  From the start of the war, there was a great upsurge in charitable activities,  with many charities founded that exist today.  A National Relief Fund was set up, galvanising local communities into action.  Much of the fund raising was for "Comforts" for the troops - knitting hats, scarves  and gloves, sending books and food parcels abroad etc.  Posters and postcards were also sold  with patriotic messages as here.  


During the First World War, Earlston remembered its serving soldiers at Christmas time, with a series of cards sent over the war years.




In the 1911 census,  Earlston's  population stood at 1749,  with 801 male and 948 females. The First World War saw forty-eight men losing their lives in the conflict  - their names recorded  on the War Memorial, unveiled on Sunday 13th  November 1921.   In a service of dedication in the square, it was unveiled by Mrs Hope, wife of Colonel Hope of Cowdenknowes, who was chairman of the War Memorial Committee,



Earlston War Memorial, 2017

The Auld Earlston Group would be pleased to hear from anyone with war memorabilia.  Items will be scanned, copied and returned to you.  

Contact:  Tel.  01896 848240.  E-mail