Sunday, 30 August 2015

Out on the Road in Earlston

What was driving like in the early days?  Take a look  at these quiet roads around Earlston in times past.

For Leisure 

Driving down  the middle of the road on the now busy A68.
The Quiet Market Square
Local Historian John Weatherley with his Pride and Joy

Or Let the Bus Take the Strain

For Business

Prime Minister Asquith leaving Earlston Station in 1908
 in the official car to take him to the meeting in the village. 

Andrew Taylor & Sons, Ironmonger & Grocer  - listed in a Directory of 1931. 

Co-op Vans outside the  Earlston  Shop 

Two Lorries of the  Brownlie family who have been in the Saw Mill business 
since the mid 1850s and purchased the Earlston yard in 1920. 
 in July 1988 it became part of BSW Timber Group 

Two Lorries from 
Rodger (Builders) Ltd, established in Earlston in 1847


And what was likely to be the biggest danger facing motorists?  Children playing on the road. 

High Street


Thank you to everyone
who has  donated or loaned old photographs for scanning.
Auld Earlston welcomes all contributions on the village's past  -
 contact us on or via the comments box below. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Life in Earlston in the 1790's?

We have one of the earliest descriptions of the village  in "The First Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-1799," edited by Sir John Sinclair, whereby  each parish minister was asked to write a chapter on his parish.   

Contributing the Earlston chapter was Rev. Mr Lawrence Johnston,   whose children  were at one stage  tutored by a young Sir Walter Scott. 

The population of Earlston was given as 1,351 - 670 males and 681 females, with the commen: 
 "The people are in general healthy;  many of them arrive at old age.  The most common diseases are ague, rheumatism and scroph - the frequency of the last  is probably owing to intermarriage.......consumptive complaints are more common."

A generally positive picture was given of the local economy.
"The principal manufacture is linen cloth.  There are between 40 and 50 weaver looms mostly employed weaving linen........ We have only one woollen manufacturer,  though no place could be better  situated for carrying out that branch of trade.   The Leader Water runs along the west and there is plenty of wool to supply 20 manufacturers.
There are four mills which manufacture a considerable quantity  of all kinds of is carried to Dalkeith and Edinburgh markets.  Coal and lime are brought back in return.
Nor can any part of the country be better accommodated with roads.  The turnpike between Edinburgh and Jedburgh  goes close by..
The farmers rear a considerable number of black cattle...which they fatten on turnips.

Horses are absolutely necessary in this part of the country, for it is by them the farmers labour their farms and drive their corn to market.  They never work with oxen now as they did formerly.  

The most common crops in this parish are  oats, barley and peas.  There is also some wheat.  The oats that grow on the grounds at Fans are much esteemed. There is now a greet quantity of clover and of  rye grass sown.  
The account noted that two fairs were held in Earlstoun  - on the 28th June  for sheep, black cattle and horses, reckoned to be "the second best fair in the south of Scotland".  The other fair was held on the third  Thursday of October.

In terms of the local society, we learn that the manse  was built in 1734 and the church in 1736, with Sunday Schools in Earlston and Mellerstain, sponsored by the Hon.Mrs Baillie of Mellerstain House.  

An illustration of the Parish Church, demolished in 1891.- 
From the collection of Auld Earlston.

However there were "many poor in the parish at least 30 are enrolled  who receive a weekly allowance according to their necessities.  For this purpose a sum is raised twice a year".


What was happening in the world outside Earlston?  
George III was King, and it was some fifty years,  since Bonnie Prince Charlie had led the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745  south  through the Borders in his bid for the throne.  Income tax was first introduced by William Pitt  in 1799 to help finance the Napoleonic Wars. 

1795 saw the first regular coach run through the Borders from Kelso to Edinburgh - a 10 hour journey.  It was to be another seventy  years before the railway reached  Earlston in 1863.

This was the age of the Scottish Enlightenment with an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. led by such figures as philosopher David Hume, scientist David Brewster, economist  Adam Smith, engineer James Watt, geologist Jame Hutton.  and poet Robert Burns, who dined in Earlston in 1787 whilst on his tour of the Borders. In Edinburgh the New Town was being created.

The Industrial Revolution saw Scotland changing from a predominantly rural, agricultural economy into a modern capitalist economy as developments in textiles, coal and ship building industries attracted more people to urban centres.  In 1800 social reformer Robert Owen took over the running of the cotton mills at New Lanark,  which became a model for progressive and socially responsible industrial management  

Abroad the American colonies secured their independence from Britain in 1793, and France was in turmoil following the outbreak of revolution in 1789.   Radicalism was also growing in Scotland, with political reformers, led by Thomas Muir,   convicted of  sedition in trials in 1793-4,  and and sentenced to penal transportation in  Australia. 

In Africa, Selkirkshire born explorer Mungo Park reached the source of the River Niger .in 1796.   

But what was the main preoccupation  in Earlston?

This was identified in "The Statistical Account" as: 
"The want of fuel.  The common people burn turf and peat.  Coal is usually from the neighbourhood of Dalkeith, a carriage of about 25 miles, which necessarily makes the price so high that the poor cannot purchase it".

 Craigsford Bridge, built 1737  over the Leader Water
This was the main road linking Earlston tnorth and south, 
until the building of the turnpike that was to become the A68. 
 Copyright - N.F. Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved, 2015

For more information on the Statistical Accounts of Scotland, click  HERE

Also Take Look At:


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Advertisements in "The Earlston Comet", 1891

Among the items donated to the Auld Earlston Group is a photocopy of the first edition of  "The Earlston Comet", published Saturday October 10th, 1891.  

Old newspapers are  fascinating documents. They enable us to "experience" events as they were recorded in the press of the time, featuring  "Local, District, London and Foreign Intelligence" .   The advertisements can often be as interesting as the news.

As was the custom  advertisements were given space on the front page for maximum impact.  Taking a look at them here  links  in so well with an  earlier blog post on Earlston's Shops.  

So what were Earlston people being encouraged to buy  in 1891?   

Taking centre stage were promotions by the drapers and  clothiers in the village, and we get a good description of what the well dressed man or woman would be wearing in the late 19th century. 

Thomas Clendinnen & Sons, Drapers, Milliners and Clothiers announced their:
For the whole of  their stock, replete with all the latest novelties in Plain and Diagonal Serges, Homsepun, Twist, Knicker Checked and Striped, Dress Tweeds,
Ladies Jackets, Braemar and Russian Cloaks,
Trimmed Hat and Bonnets in Newest Style
White, Scarlet and Shetland Flannels
 Gentleman's Tweed Suits - Made to Measure- From 37s.6p 
New Melton and Diagonal Overcoats from 30s. 

All garments carefully made and finished -  Perfect Fit Guaranteed. 

In the 1891 census, 32 year old draper  Thomas Clendinnen lived on the High Street with his 72 year old mother Jane  named as head of the household.  The drapers was very much a family business that included  Thomas, his  mother, his sister Marion, and brothers Henry and  Charles.   

Miller's Drapers Establishment, offered competition with the claim:  
"The largest and cheapest collection  of Autumn and Winter drapery  goods to be seen in any warehouse in the South of Scotland. 
The constant desire is to supply goods of Reliable Quality
 suitable for all classes of the parish."  
[Note that phrase "All classes of the parish" - you could not use that now!]

Also in the field of fashion was David Wallace,  with:

"An Immense and Magnificent Collection of every New and Fashionable  Dress Material....which for Variety, Superior Quality, Good Taste and Moderate Prices is unequalled in Earlston.

Tweeds in Cheviot, Homespun, Harris and Grampian makes, latest styles and newest mixtures, Black materials in great variety.
The latest novelties in Millinery, Flowers, Feathers etc.  Bonnets composed of Velvet and Jet, from 10s.6d to 25s.  The latest novelty in hats is Gladys in French Beaver, trimmed with Feathers.  All orders for this Department made up in the most Fashionable and Tasteful Manner." 

Note the reference to "black materials" - at a time when formal mourning wear was still the custom.  Somehow the name "Gladys" does not quite conjure up an image of a French beaver hat with feathers!

Draper David Wallace was listed in the 1891 census as at the High Street with his wife Ruth, two young children Robert and Ruth, and  eldest son Henry described as a  Draper's Apprentice.   


Money Values  (see National Archives Currency Converter)
  • 37s.6d for a gentleman's suit is equivalent to  £112 in today's money. 
  • 30s for a gentleman's overcoat is equivalent to £90 today.
  • Ladies hat prices ranged from 10s.6d (£32 today) to 25s (£74 today)
  Other advertisements on the front page of the newspaper promoted:
  • Old Lamps and Stoves from Robert Lee & Sons, Family Grocers and Ironmongers
  • Bootmakers, James Ballantyne, Thomas Nichol and Archibald Young all promised a large selection of boots, shoes and slippers with "Jobbing neatly and promptly executed"
  • Horse Clothing, Whips, Spurs and all Stable Requisites were all available from John McDonald, Saddler & Harness Maker of Station Road (below).
Background Information
Finding  more information on "The Earlston Comet" proved a challenge, with the National Library of Scotland providing some answers, although it did not hold any copies of the title. But there was mention in "The Waterloo Directory of Scottish Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900" , and "Mitchell's Annual Newspaper Press  Directory".

The Earlston Comet" was published by William Norrie, with "frequency irregular" between 1891 and 1894.     The Mitchell entry comments "The local and district intelligence is carefully given with notes and comments upon it.  [The paper] advocates measures that are for the moral, social and industrial benefits of the community.  The Earlston Comet is the only newspaper printed and published in Berwickshire" .

William Norrie adopted the name of "Waverley Press" for his  business, and wrote and published in 1891 a book "Edinburgh Newspapers, Past and Present".

Apart from those points,  William Norrie has proved very elusive with no information traced on him either in Edinburgh, Midlothian or the Border counties - surprising given that the 1891 census had taken place a few months before "The Earlston Comet" first appeared on the scene. 

Look out for future articles on the "Earlston Comet" 
with reports on local events,  church activities, council meetings, School Bursury Awards,  a coming General Election - plus a  letter asking 
"Is Public Spirit in Earlston Declining?    How much changes! 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Comments Welcome - It is Easy when You Know How

Auld Earlston has been delighted with the verbal interest shown in its blog, launched March 2015, and is encouraged by the number of page views. 

However we are now wondering if readers are finding problems  in posting comments, as feedback online is in very short supply. though everything seems in order in terms of set up. 


  • Click on the highlighted word "Comments" at the foot of each  article. 

  • Up comes a dialogue box to type in your comment.

  • You are asked to "Comment As"  from a small box where you have a choice of options.  (Many relate to people with their own blog or website).
  • Scroll down to click on Name/URL.  Type in your name - christian name only is fine.   Ignore the request for a URL (website address). Click continue. 
  • OR  scroll down to click on the bottom option Anonymous. Click publish. 
  • You will be asked to prove you are not a robot - click the box.
  • Click Publish - Success!  Your comment appears. 

Once you do this process a few times,  it is almost automatic.  
 Do give it a try and give us your feedback on the blog,
 as we would like to hear from you. 

If you still have a problem, please let us know by e-mailing: