THIS week, the team from the Live Borders Museum and Gallery, Tweeddale Museum brings us details of their latest exhibition...

Peebles for Pleasure, an oft-used phrase to describe our town, is the current exhibition at Tweeddale Museum and Gallery, which explores how and why people came to spend leisure time in this area.

Whether in medieval times pilgrimaging to the Cross Kirk or attending the Beltane Fair, or in Victorian times taking the waters, cycling, fishing or walking, Tweeddale has offered a variety of attractions to locals and visitors alike over the centuries.

But just how did people come to spend time in the area and why?

The birth of the railways played a major role, with the early 1800s seeing railway networks in Scotland expanding rapidly. Tourism and transportation grew hand in hand, but Tweeddale however remained as ‘quiet as the grave’ at that time.

But, by 1860 things had changed and the expansion of the railways enabled towns like Peebles to double or even treble their populations in the summer months, with visitors arriving here from Edinburgh, England and the west of Scotland via the Caledonian Line, and two years later from the east via the North British Railway.

Many chose to stay in the town’s growing array of hotels and private houses and to take excursions to local places of interest.

And by 1900 shorter workdays and the Saturday half-holiday freed time for both locals and visitors to engage more with leisure interests.

In 1881 the Hydropathic Hotel opened and was crucial to the growth of tourism in Peebles, providing accommodation for 200 guests.

The Hydro, as it is now commonly known, was then cited as the best equipped hotel in the country with offerings of a wide range of water cures prescribed by the hotel’s resident doctor, as well as opportunities for holidaymakers to relax in beautiful surroundings.

The exhibition would of course not be complete without reference to the pull of one the best salmon and trout fishing rivers in the world – the River Tweed, where fishing for food and sport has been a centuries-old activity.

Visitors to the museum can view a range of wonderful exhibits from the museum collection to enhance this Peebles for Pleasure story – a possible pilgrim find from the 1500s, old bicycles and fishing artefacts, to name but a few, as well as a stunning array of photographs depicting ‘down-time’ of old. 

The exhibition runs at the Tweeddale Museum and Gallery until May 5, 2018.