Important acquisitions

A medley, history, directory, and discovery of Galashiels

Author George Reavely
Title A medley, history, directory, and discovery of Galashiels
Imprint Galashiels: T.F. Brockie
Date of Publication 1875
Language Galashiels: T.F. Brockie
Notes The author of this work, George Reavely (1815-1895) was a native of Galashiels, whose life is briefly described in Robert Hall's 1898 history of the town. Reavely worked initially in local textile mills in his home town and Stow, and also ran coach services in the Borders. In a long and varied working life he also worked as an auctioneer and barman, as well as spending time in North America. A true local eccentric, he was a keen inventor in his spare time, producing a variety of contraptions, including a flying machine, which proved to be, according to Hall, "a disastrous failure". Reavely's history of the town is not drawn from research into the ancient past but from the author's own extensive personal knowledge of events and personalities of the last 100 years or so; indeed the history part is "not so much of the town and trade of Galashiels, as of incidents connected with men and things generally". The book thus contains gossipy anecdotes on local worthies as well as some criticisms on the current state of the town; Hall comments wryly that, "at public meetings George was generally to the front, advocating his peculiar ideas about things in general; the kindly feelings with which he was regarded always secured for him a good-humoured, if, at times, a somewhat demonstrative reception". It is therefore no surprise that the printer of his book, Brockie, has seen fit to include a footnote to Reavely's "Apology" at the start of the work, disclaiming any responsibility for the book's contents. In the "Apology" Reavely mentions that 12 instalments were to be printed, to then be bound into a pamphlet. He may have run out of funds to produce the intended 12 numbers, as the book ends somewhat abruptly. The book was also supposed to cover, according to the title page, "a water scheme for power, domestic, and sanitary purposes, supplementing the use of fire engines, for the year 1875". However, the water scheme is only discussed briefly in the final 2-3 pages, almost as an afterthought. The provision of fresh water was indeed something of a hot topic in the town, as at the time Galashiels was dependent on various wells for its water supply; these were often polluted and blamed for an increased death rate, with three outbreaks of cholera between the years 1849 and 1853. Moreover, the population of the town had increased rapidly in the previous 20 years due to the development of the local textile industry, placing further pressures on the existing water supply. The recently established Town Council was due to decide on a new water supply for the town so Reavely advocates in his book the construction of a reservoir using water from the Lug(g)ate Water, to the north of the town, hoping that "unlettered men" in the Council were in the minority and that the rest would see the efficacy of the scheme he was proposing. The Council had other ideas; in 1876, a year after the publication of this book, an act of parliament was passed which authorised the construction of a water supply system fed by the Caddon Water, with contracts being undertaken the following year for the construction of reservoirs, including one at Meigle Hill to the west of the town. Piped water became available in the town in 1879.
Shelfmark AB.1.212.01
Reference Sources Robert Hall, "History of Galashiels", Galashiels, 1898.
Acquired on 16/12/11
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