Social Life

1930s, there was a general advancement in social well-being. The inadequate level of unemployment benefit (it was often cut) cushioned the worst effects of long-term unemployment. However, the quality of life was not only a matter of income but also depended on better housing, the local environment and the kind of supporting society that was to be found in Peebles.

In the years immediately after the First World War the Peebles Town Council set about extending its custody of the open countryside and acquired for the 'public enjoyment' extensive areas of land which became the sites for municipal housing schemes as well as parks and playing-fields.

Public enjoyment and the common good were also well served by the enterprise and pioneering spirit of Andrew Harper when he began the bus service which he ran with his two sons, Hugh and Joe. It began its first run to Innerleithen and Walkerburn in April 1923, when Joe Harper drove the twenty-seater bus and young Jackie Elder was the conductor. There was soon to be a regular Harper's bus service to Edinburgh, Biggar and Broughton via Howgate, West Linton and Dolphinton; Edinburgh via Penicuik; Glasgow via Motherwell; Dumfries and Moffat via Carlops and West Linton.9 William Ramsay supplemented these services with equally enterprising bus-routes to the upper parts of the county.

Harper's, in the days before popular car ownership, opened up the opportunity for many local families to enjoy a new form of leisure: the 'tour', all the more enjoyable in the charabanc coach of the 1920s and early 1930s. Harper's extensive programme included tours to Dryburgh Abbey (6s: 30p), Moffat (7s 6d: 37½p), Abbotsford (5s: 25p); Eddleston, The Meldons and Lyne (2s: l0p); Manor, Black Dwarf's Cottage, and Cademuir (1s 6d: 7½p). His drivers and conductors wore distinctive lapel badges with a red enamel circle and a gold gilt centre-piece of the Peebles coat-of-arms. John Elder, who became a local bus driver, was on the outdoor staff of Field-Marshal the Earl Haig during the First World War. He had the unique experience of driving the Duke of York (later King George VI) and then drove the Prince of Wales (who became the Duke of Windsor) when they toured the battlefields. In recognition of this service, he was presented with a silver watch from King George V.

James Thomson of Ellerslie also organised trips and conducted a number of summer tours with his horse-drawn wagonettes, replacing

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