UPSIDE DOWN BY THE TWEED:
The Tweed Bridge is arguably Peebles biggest landmark and is believed to have been in use since medieval times. However, there lies a little known stone set underneath its arches on the High Street side of the bridge.
"It’s a story that a lot of people love in the town" says Ian. "At the time the work was done there is every chance that the workers were illiterate. So this part of the bridge was probably quite irrelevant to them. But now, in the 21st century, it becomes very relevant. These poor guys might not have known what they were doing because they inserted the inscribed stone upside down. Now that it is a part of the bridge I'm sure that it will be there for evermore. Its inscription suggests that it was inserted in 1767 but I'm not sure if it was part of the bridge widening process or not."
Records indicate that there has been a bridge made of stone on this site since 1465, prior to this it is likely to have been made of timber and perhaps clad in stone. The crossing was widened almost three-fold in 1834 and again at the turn of the 20th century. This vital link across the Tweed has seen it all - from invading English armies to the devastating flood that the town suffered in 2015.
We will be featuring the Tweed Bridge in much greater detail at a later date but in the meantime, try to take a stroll underneath its old arches and have a look at this interesting little feature.
Eating Sweets on Elcho Brae:
It is often the smallest details that go unnoticed in any town or city. Everyday we walk past many of these features that offer clues to their former use.
A great example of this in the town is Nancy Drummond's old sweet shop on Elcho Street Brae. The building is located just up the hill from the Old Town - look out for the large white wall on your left.
The shop sold general goods and groceries but for many of the town’s children it is remembered as a sweet shop, famed for its fine array of confectionery.
You can still view the surrounds of the old shop front that has since been converted for various uses since its demise in the early 1990s.
"As a kid everything on that counter was your favourite" says Ian.
"Nancy was a right old battle axe that would watch your every move, just incase you tried to nick anything. You were so scared to even look at the sweets, so it was pretty unlikely that you would have the guts to steal anything. She didn't take any nonsense but none of the shop keepers did in those days"
The town of Peebles is still home to a couple of sweet shops and with a 'bribe' or two this series may cover them in a later edition of the People's History of Peebles...
THE HAPPY VALLEY - HENRY LINEY'S:
Peebles is currently home to three Chinese Restaurants and takeaways. One of these establishments is situated opposite Castle Warehouse in the Old Town.
Up until the late 1970s the premises was know as Henry Liney’s but the children of Peebles would probably not have argued if the premises had been known at this time by its current title: Happy Valley. So perhaps the name of this modern day business pays an unwitting homage to fond memories fixed in the minds of those that remember the old Soda Bar. Ian remembers the establishment very fondly, "Ask any Peeblian of a certain age and they will tell you that they remember this place.”
Dr Pepper was the first fizzy drink served up in the late 1800s but Peebles had its own drink to rival any soda as Ian regales, “some people will remember the Henry Liney Penny Drink! It came from an amazing machine that should be in Peebles Museum, but its not. Nobody knows why it just got stashed away or forgotten. It would stand about 3ft high on the counter with a huge glass ball fixed to the top and full of water. You would ask for your penny drink which came in a pint glass, with a squirt of cordial in the bottom.”
According to Ian, the whole process of making this drink was not just captivating, it was a real spectacle. Children would sit waiting on the cold, wooden benches surrounding the main counter. It was here that they would impatiently count the seconds until their special drink was served up. "The water would be pumped through the glass ball and then underneath the counter. From here a canister of carbon dioxide was blasted through the water to make your drink fizzy. It was a massive novelty in those days!" says Ian.
The demise of Liney's Soda Bar in Peebles was not unusual given the rise of soda drink manufacturing. The novelty was perhaps lost forever but it's memory will firmly remain in the minds of the countless people who visited this wonderful establishment over the years.