Galashiels in the Scottish Borders

 

The Border Reiver monument that stands guard in the heart of Galashiels in the Scottish Borders is arguably the finest produced by one of the town’s most famous sons.

A great deal of sculptor Thomas Clapperton’s work is dedicated to Scotland’s fighting past, from Robert the Bruce (the most viewed, standing outside Edinburgh Castle), to the fearsome reivers and men who marched away to world wars never to return.

His unique style can be viewed at many war memorials throughout the borders and beyond.

As with many of the main Scottish Border towns, Galashiels first made an impact under the rule of King David 1 and pioneered the region’s internationally renowned association with textile manufacture.

At the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in London, a celebration of all things British and its empire, mill companies from Galashiels were the biggest exhibitors in the textile section.

The connection with textile manufacture withered after the First World War in which the town lost over 600 men – many of them falling in a single attack during the campaign at Gallipoli.

Now a new generation is rekindling Galashiels interest in textiles. Students at the School of Textiles and Design at the local Herriot-Watt University are putting the town back on the map with some innovative and eye catching ideas.

The Old Gala House represents five centuries of Galashiels history and is now a focus for travelling exhibitions as well as housing family history research facilities.

This Scottish Borders town is a popular stopping-off point for walkers tackling the 212-mile Southern Uplands Way that starts at Portpatrick on the south-west coast of Scotland and ends at Cocksburnpath on the east.

Many stretches of the walk are increasingly important for the mountain biking fraternity.

Galashiels, like many other Scottish Borders towns celebrates an annual common riding. Here the town elects a Braw Lad to carry the colours and lead riders around the ancient boundaries.