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]

Galashiels
Church spires in Galashiels - geograph.org.uk - 717309.jpg
Galashiels is located in Scottish Borders
Galashiels
Galashiels
Location within the Scottish Borders
Population10,060 (mid-2020 est.)[1]
OS grid referenceNT495365
Council area
Lieutenancy area
CountryScotland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townGalashiels
Postcode districtTD1
Dialling code01896
PoliceScotland
FireScottish
AmbulanceScottish
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
UK
Scotland
55°37′10″N 2°48′12″W / 55.6194°N 2.8033°W / 55.6194; -2.8033Coordinates: 55°37′10″N 2°48′12″W / 55.6194°N 2.8033°W / 55.6194; -2.8033
Galashiels
Elevation
161 m (528 ft)

LocationEdit

Galashiels is 33 miles (53 km) south of Edinburgh and 61.2 miles (98.5 km) north of Carlisle on the A7 road. Gala lies on the border between the historic counties of Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, on the Gala Water river.

HistoryEdit

 
Border Reiver statue at Galashiels
(by Thomas J Clapperton)
 
Bank Street Gardens, Galashiels

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 AD 140, 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]

Galashiels' population grew fast through the textile trade with several mills. 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.

In cultureEdit

 
The Braw Lad and Lass crossing the Tweed
 
Braw Lads Gathering 2011

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.[10]

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 as "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.[11]

TransportEdit

 
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.[12] 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, allowing travellers and commuters to relax prior to their bus or train journey, and upstairs has office space that has been leased to businesses and organizations. It also has full toilet and baby-changing facilities, and a travel helpdesk.

EducationEdit

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,[13] which is also a shared campus of Borders College.

RedevelopmentEdit

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 accommodation.

Unusual landmarks or local featuresEdit

The town is home to the Glasite church, in danger of being lost,[14] 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.[15]

SportEdit

The following sports clubs are based in Galashiels:

Notable peopleEdit

ClimateEdit

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
Average high °C (°F) 5.8
(42.4)
6.4
(43.5)
8.3
(46.9)
10.9
(51.6)
14.0
(57.2)
16.6
(61.9)
18.6
(65.5)
18.1
(64.6)
15.8
(60.4)
12.0
(53.6)
8.5
(47.3)
6.1
(43.0)
11.8
(53.2)
Average low °C (°F) 0.6
(33.1)
0.6
(33.1)
1.7
(35.1)
3.4
(38.1)
5.7
(42.3)
8.7
(47.7)
10.5
(50.9)
10.4
(50.7)
8.4
(47.1)
5.7
(42.3)
2.7
(36.9)
0.6
(33.1)
4.9
(40.8)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 80.7
(3.18)
64.7
(2.55)
58.6
(2.31)
49.1
(1.93)
48.3
(1.90)
65.6
(2.58)
68.2
(2.69)
78.2
(3.08)
59.6
(2.35)
88.3
(3.48)
83.3
(3.28)
87.9
(3.46)
832.6
(32.78)
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[17]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "SCOTS - Search".
  11. ^ The Edinburgh Reporter, 21 August 2021 { theedinburghreporter.co.uk }
  12. ^ "Queen officially opens Borders-to-Edinburgh railway". BBC. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Textiles & Design".
  14. ^ "Glasite Chapel (Former), Botany Lane, Galashiels". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  15. ^ "Gala Fairydean Rovers stand upgraded to A-listed". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Fellows of the Royal Society".
  17. ^ "Galashiels (Scottish Borders) UK climate averages". Met Office. Retrieved 26 December 2021.

External linksEdit