Ted McKie from Innerleithen tells us how the town has developed over the years...

The numerous photographs taken from Caerlee Hill over the years provide an invaluable pictorial record of the development of the burgh of Innerleithen into a small industrial, then post-industrial, town.

Although Brodie’s (Caerlee) Mill was completed in 1790, in the 1820s Innerleithen was still a sleepy spa village of around 500 souls, a figure that was almost quadrupled during the summer by visitors drawn by the reputation of the curative properties of the mineral springs.

By 1850 the number of residents in the town had risen to around 1250 and the attractions of the spa had subsided.

Caerlee Mill was modernised and enlarged, two new mills were built and for the next 150 years Innerleithen was a thriving woollen textile town.

Come the 1880s the population was over 2000 and would rise to over 3000 by 1900.

Waverley Mill had been added to the manufacturing capacity in 1871 and the need for more housing arose.

Developments in Miller Street, Traquair Road, Peebles Road, High Street and Hall Street were the result.

A purpose-built tenement block, situated between the High Street and Victoria Park and known locally as “the Barracks” because of its outward appearance, became part of the housing stock. (Today the automated telephone exchange occupies the site.)

After World War 1 the building of council houses began and continued through to the 1970s, mainly on the east side of Leithen Water.

Around the middle of the 20th century many old houses were condemned as unfit to live in and demolished.

The Rosy Raw in Pirn Road, the Old Mill at the top of Damside and the afore-mentioned Barracks as well as Pirn House and Lee Pen House have thus disappeared.

By the 1980s both St. Ronan’s Mill and Leithen Mills had been demolished, a similar fate befalling Waverley Mills in the 2000s.

The sites are now filled with a variety of attractive residential properties.

Council and housing association houses were added to the east and west of the town and private properties have filled the former green field spaces on the lower slopes of Caerlee Hill and Lee Pen and to the north at Kirklands.

Caerlee Mill, the last remnant of Innerleithen’s proud industrial heritage stands forlornly and moribund at the foot of Damside, a sorry survivor purely by virtue of its listed status. Its creator, Alexander Brodie, must be birlin’ in his grave.

Approaching the Millennium and beyond all the mills have vanished bar the listed but moribund Brodie’s Mill building brooding in a demolition site awaiting the fate of the other mills, the transformation from factory chatter and bustle to residential quietude.