- GALASHIELS, a manufacturing town, burgh of barony, and parish, partly in the district of Melrose, county of Roxburgh, and partly in the county of Selkirk, 6 miles (N. by E.) from Selkirk, and 32 (S. S. E.) from Edinburgh; containing 2140 inhabitants, exclusively of 2396 in the parish of Melrose, into which the town extends. This place, which is of remote antiquity, derives its name, signifying in the British language "a full stream," from its situation on the river Gala, by which, from the rapidity and violence of its current, the town was formerly subject to frequent and disastrous inundations. In the reign of David II., the Scottish army was quartered in the immediate neighbourhood, after the battle of Crichtondean, in which the English, being taken by surprise, had been defeated, and compelled to cross the Tweed near the town. About a mile distant, on the road to Abbots ford, is a tract formerly a marsh, but now in a state of cultivation, where, in a skirmish, some of the English forces were slain, and in which, while draining the land, were found several implements of war. In 1599, the place was erected into a burgh of barony; and in 1622, from a report of the lords commissioners, it appears that it had become of some importance, and contained not less than 400 inhabitants. The town is pleasantly situated on the river Gala, which pursues its course in a direction from north-west to south-east, and is spanned by four bridges. It is of very pleasing appearance, consisting chiefly of houses built within the last fifty years in a neat and handsome style; the streets are well laid out, and partially lighted, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. A public library, supported by subscription, has a collection of more than 5000 volumes of general literature; and there are public reading and news rooms, well supplied with newspapers; also a good circulating library, and libraries attached to some of the places of worship.The principal trade carried on here, and to which the town owes its importance, is the woollen manufacture, which has been gradually brought to a very high state of perfection: the articles produced are, narrow fancy cloths of various quality, known in the market as "tweeds," 6/4 Saxony-wool tartan, shawls, and plaids. The narrow cloths vary in price from twenty to eighty pence per yard, the 6/4 tartan cloak ings from two to nine shillings per yard, and the shawls, which are in high esteem for their texture and for the richness and variety of their colours, from three to thirty shillings each. There are eleven factories in the town, and a twelfth is about to be erected; they are all dependent on water-power, except two, which have the aid of steam, and the spindles now number 17,000, and the looms 563, affording together employment to 1400 persons. The quantity of wool annually used is estimated at fully 1,000,000 lb., value £80,000, principally from Australasia, Germany, and other foreign countries, the use of wool of home growth being nearly superseded: the yearly value of finished goods is £200,000. The great increase of the trade of Galashiels may be understood from the statement of the fact that, seventy years ago, only 722 stone of wool were used by the clothiers, and scarcely as much more could be manufactured by private persons. In the year 1790, it appears that 243 packs of wool, each pack containing twelve stone of twenty-four lb., were purchased by the manufacturers; besides which, they received from different quarters wool, yarn, and weaved cloth, to a considerable amount, to be dyed and dressed. At that period, about 250 women were constantly engaged in spinning wool; there were also occasional spinners; and three machines, having each thirty or thirty-six spindles, were employed two or three days in the week: the number of looms was only forty-three. Hosiery is made to a small extent; there are likewise a tannery, two skinneries, several forges for the manufacture of machinery required for the factories, and a thriving brewery. Three banks have branches in the town. The market, held on Monday, was formerly of considerable note, but has now unaccountably fallen into disuse, and the fairs are but very indifferently attended. The post-office has a tolerable delivery; and facility of communication with the neighbouring towns is afforded by excellent roads in every direction, of which the new road from Carlisle passes through the town. Two bridges have been erected in the parish, over the rivers Tweed and Ettrick; there are also a suspension-bridge upon a highly ingenious principle, and other bridges for foot passengers across the various streams. The burgh is governed by a bailie, appointed by the chief lord; but, though he has the jurisdiction common to burghs of barony, he holds no courts either for civil or criminal cases, and the police of the town is managed by constables, who are paid by the two counties in which Galashiels is situated.The parish, which includes the old parishes of Galashiels and Lindean, is nearly eight miles in length, and about three miles in average breadth; and is bounded by the rivers Tweed, Ettrick, and Gala, the first of which also flows through the parish, between banks richly clothed with wood, and displaying much beautiful scenery. It comprises more than 10,000 acres, of which about one-half are arable, 500 woodland and plantations, and the remainder hill-pasture and waste. The surface is diversified with hills and narrow winding glens, and some of the former have a considerable elevation, the highest being the Meigle, which commands the town, and is nearly 1500 feet above the level of the sea: the loftier grounds embrace interesting views of the adjacent country, enlivened by the rivers. The Gala was formerly subject to great inundations, but, from the deepening of its channel, has been rendered less impetuous in its course, and much less destructive of the lands than previously. The chief lake within the parish is Loch Cauldshiels, which is about a mile and a half in circumference, and of great depth; it was adorned on one side, by the late Sir Walter Scott, with beautiful plantations. A smaller lake, about twelve acres in extent, was formerly drained in the hope of finding marl, but afterwards, on the failure of the attempt, suffered to resume its ancient waters; it has plenty of eels, but is perfectly destitute of any ornamental features. The rivers abound with salmon, and trout of very large size are frequently found in them; the fishery on the Tweed has been recently placed under more salutary regulations, and at present does not commence till the middle of February.The soil is various; in some places a rich black loam, in others a stiff retentive clay, and on the banks of the rivers of a very sandy quality. The crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips; the system of agriculture is advanced, and the four and five shift courses of husbandry are prevalent. The lands have mostly been well drained, and inclosed partly with stone dykes and partly with thorn hedges, and bone-dust has been partially introduced as manure; the farm-houses and offices are commodiously arranged, and all the more recent improvements have been generally adopted. Great attention is paid to live stock; the cattle are of a good kind, and the sheep of the Cheviot and Leicestershire breeds. The rateable annual value of the parish is £9649, including £2215 for the Roxburghshire portion. The plantations are Scotch and spruce firs, intermixed with larch, oak, ash, elm, beech, and sycamore; they are well managed, and in a very thriving condition. The substrata are, greywacke, clay-slate, and ironstone, but no quarries have been opened: an attempt has been made to find coal, but hitherto without success, and nothing more than a black shale, quite destitute of any bituminous quality, has been discovered. The seats are, Gala House, a handsome mansion in a well-planted demesne, ornamented with some ancient trees of stately growth; and Faldonside. The parish is in the presbytery of Selkirk and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of Hugh Scott, Esq.; the minister's stipend is £211. 11., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £28 per annum. The church, erected in 1813, is a good structure in the later English style of architecture, with a square embattled tower, and is adapted for a congregation of 1000 persons. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, the United Associate Synod, the Relief Church, Baptists, and Independents. The parochial school affords a liberal course of instruction, and is well attended; the master has a salary of £34, with £70 fees, a house and garden, and the privilege of taking boarders. There are also two schools in the rural districts; the master of one has a salary of £8, and of the other £5, in addition to the fees. A Bible and missionary society is supported by subscription; and there is a small but wellassorted library, in connexion with the Sabbath schools. A friendly society, which has been established here for the last twenty years, and a savings' bank, in which the amount of deposits exceeds £700, have contributed to reduce the number of claims upon the parochial funds. Vestiges of two encampments, both supposed to be of Roman origin, may be traced on the lands of Faldonside, and also on the estate of Fairnilee; and there are still some remains of the ancient Roman road in the parish. Nothing is left of the church at Lindean, which had been abandoned, on account of extreme dilapidation, nearly forty years before the two parishes were united.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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