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Innerleithen, Selkirkshire

Historical Description

INNERLEITHEN, a parish, chiefly in the county of Peebles, and partly in the county of Selkirk, 6½ miles (E. S. E.) from Peebles; containing 931 inhabitants, of whom 463 are in the village, and 468 in the rural districts of the parish. This place, properly Inverleithen, derives its name from one of the numerous streams that flow through the lands into the river Tweed. The parish comprises about 30,000 acres, whereof 2000 are arable, 500 woodland and plantations, 30 in brushwood, and the remainder, of which probably 1500 might be brought into profitable cultivation, hilly pasture. Its form is that of a triangle, the longest side extending along the river Tweed, and the two other sides meeting in the ridge of mountains called the Moorfoot hills. Along the shore of the Tweed the surface spreads into a rich and fertile plain, and in other parts is intersected with numerous deep glens, watered by running streams: of these glens the most spacious is that through which the Leithen flows, which contains a considerable portion of level meadow land. There are many springs in the parish, and some of them possess highly medicinal properties; the principal is that issuing from the base of a hill near the village, which from that circumstance has obtained its rapid increase. The scenery is strikingly varied, and in parts very picturesque. From the farm of Purves Hill, which has a considerable elevation, is a descent towards the river, by a continued succession of terraces, about 200 yards in length and eighteen feet broad, divided into several series by unequal intervals of level ground. These terraces, as seen from the lands below, form a singular feature in the landscape; and some timber of mature growth, and various thriving plantations on some of the lands in the parish, add much to the beauty of the scenery.

Near the river the soil is rich and fertile, but in the higher grounds of inferior quality, abounding with heath and moss. The crops are wheat, barley, oats, peas, and turnips: the system of husbandry is advanced; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, and the lands are well inclosed. About 400 head of cattle are kept in the parish, and much attention has been paid to the improvement of the breed, originally the old Tweeddale, by the introduction of the Alderney and the Northumberland: about 16,000 sheep, also, are pastured here, which are chiefly of the black-faced and Cheviot breeds. Few horses are reared, except for purposes of agriculture. The woods consist of oak, ash, elm, hazel, and birch; and the plantations, of larch and other firs, intermixed with the usual hard-woods. The substrata are greywacke, greywacke-slate, clay-slate, and porphyry of red and grey colour, the last of which abounds with crystals of felspar. Slate has been quarried in several parts; and a quarry at Hollylee, which was long abandoned, has again been opened by the proprietor, and the produce used for paving the halls of his mansion. The annual value of real property in the parish is £7072, of which £818 are returned for the Selkirkshire portion. The chief houses are Glen-Ormiston and Hollylee, which are both spacious and handsome structures, finely situated, and embellished with thriving plantations: that of Glen-Ormiston was purchased with the beautiful estate, in 1849, by the well-known Mr. William Chambers, of Edinburgh.

The village, as already stated, is indebted for its increase to the mineral water of Innerleithen. It is neatly built; and several good houses have been erected for the accommodation of the numerous visiters who, during the summer, take up their residence here for the benefit of the water, which is found efficacious in various complaints. On being analysed the water is found to contain, in one imperial quart, 5.3 grains of carbonate of magnesia, 9.5 grains of muriate of lime, and 21.2 grains of muriate of soda. The spring issues from a mountain composed of greywacke, clay-slate, and red porphyry; and there is a second spring, which varies a little in the proportions of its ingredients, containing 10.12 grains of carbonate of magnesia, 19.4 of muriate of lime, and 31 of muriate of soda. A handsome building has been erected, with a viranda in front, for the use of the visiters; and the village is growing into some repute as a watering-place. A club has been formed for the promotion of gymnastic exercises, under the patronage of several noblemen and gentlemen of the district; and is supported with much spirit. The woollen manufacture was introduced here about fifty or sixty years since, by Mr. Brodie of Traquair, who erected a large factory for that purpose, which, after his decease, was let to several tenants, by whom the various departments of the trade are still carried on, giving employment to fifty persons. Facility of intercourse with Peebles, the nearest market-town, and with the other towns in the district, is afforded by good roads, of which the turnpike-road from Kelso to Glasgow passes for nearly ten miles along the shores of the Tweed. Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Peebles, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; patron, John Booth, Esq. The stipend of the incumbent is about £250; the manse is a comfortable residence, and the glebe comprises twelve acres, valued at £20 per annum. Innerleithen church, built in 1786, is a neat substantial edifice, conveniently situated, and adapted for a congregation of 350 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £34 per annum, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £40 per annum. There is a friendly society, which is well supported, and has contributed materially to diminish the number of applications for parochial relief.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis