Monday, August 31, 2009

Waverley Route Heritage Association

I visited the Waverley Route Heritage Centre Open Weekend on Sunday, 30th August 2009 with a friend.
This is at Whitrope about 4 miles north of Hermitage and 11 miles south of Hawick on the scenic B6399 road.
They've achieved a lot in a short time, a few hundred yards of track, and they have 2 carriages and a snow plough.
One of the carriages is a cafe, the other a very nice exhibition with photos of stations, newspaper cuttings, artefacts, station name boards, lamps, signs etc.
The navvies that carved out the line were extremely well paid for the middle of the 19th century, they earned £100 to £150 per year, compared with a labourer's average earnings of £25 to £30 per year; and for agricultural labourers and farm servants, more than half of that would be in the form of rent, food, and fuel.
The navvies lived in bothies (wooden huts) in the hills.
There were no shops for them to spend their money, apart from enterprising contractors who brought clothing and footwear from Hawick to sell.
A Mr MacDonald opened a superior bothy offering accommodation, food, and booze known as the Turf Hotel near Langburnshiels.
At the weekend many of the navvies went to Hawick, some, no doubt, full of good intentions to send money home to their families; most drinking their two or three pounds away. Their natural exuberance and competitiveness often erupted into brawls, though as one policemen said "At least they fight only amongst themselves." Some were carted away and spent a night or two in Jedburgh prison.
I wonder how many navvies found sweethearts among the Hawick women ?
How many stayed and married there and raised families ?
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Borders Poor Law Records - Jedburgh (1852-1874)

For those who have studied the 19th century or read the works of Charles Dickens, 'The Poor Law' might be represented by the grim illustrations of the 'Poor House' by Phiz and George Cruikshank.
The Poor Law was the means of providing food, accommodation, financial assistance and, latterly, care to those in need from the middle of the 19th century. This system replaced the parish support mechanism and recognised that the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions had led to great population movements and drift within Scotland making the parish support no longer able to cope without assistance.
The Poor Law created a plethora of records covering details on those who applied for assistance in specific areas, case studies, details on inspectors and much, much more. In many respects it saw the beginnings of Local Government as we know it today.
When the Heritage Hub in Hawick started to digitise a number of these records for the Borders, they soon realised the scale of the work and agreed that Borders Family History Society could assist in indexing the records and transcribe the most useful data.
Apart from the obvious interest to the local historian, the publication opens up a new horizon for the genealogist, providing details on peoples' movement between the censuses, descriptions of illnesses suffered, domestic circumstances and more. Uniquely, the records provide details on people not born in the Borders but who lived or died there.
Whilst the budding genealogist may set out with high hopes of finding 'noble roots', the reality is usually different but no less fascinating. The Poor Law touched and helped people from differing backgrounds at a time of great change. These records might help you piece together the last pieces of your own family jigsaw puzzle.
You can search the index online to the volumes as they are published.
This is the first volume we've produced as a result of this huge but very interesting project. As we publish new ones, we'll add them to the list of Borders Poor Law Records volumes, and there's more information there too.

It's been published as a CD covering over 1000 named people, including images of the records so that you can discover even more, historical notes, and an index.
CD price £12.00 plus UK postage of 47p, £1.21 (Europe), £1.68 (World)
The CD can be purchased directly from us at Borders Family History Society, Whitberry, Todlaw Road, Duns, TD11 3EW, Scotland.

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