Denholm Village

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Into the 20th century 

Information is taken from  'A History of the Village' by Margaret Sellar, printed 1989. Unfortunately the book is now out of print.

Shops, trades and services

These were listed in notes by Miss A Smith who was born in 1902 and brought up in the United Free Manse at Townhead. Her original list has been expanded and updated from other sources.


At the beginning of the century Alexander Carruthers had the business on 'bakers corner' at Townhead. Later Peter Scott had it and then Robert Martin, before D. A. Lindsay took it over in 1934. It has remained in the same family for over 50 years although it is now a general store and newsagent.


'Butcher's corner' was that the other end of Main Street, Andrew Beattie took it over from his father Thomas and set-up in the shop which became Douglas's, and is now Denholm Meat Suppliers. He used to do a country run in a horse-drawn vehicle with a chopping block in the back.  

Butcher's Corner

Renwick's was further up main Street in the shop that is now Westgate Salon. Between the wars Fred Webb ran a country business, operating from a storage shed in the Loaning.


This was in Westgate in the buildings that later became Scott Elliott's garage and the hairdressers next door. They have recently been demolished.

The 'Model Dairy'
   It was built by the Laird in the late 19th century and became known as a 'model dairy' as it was fully tiled and spotlessly clean. Before the first world-war it was run by George Watson of Rillbank. It expanded into Hawick as the Denholm co-operative Dairy society but the premises in Westgate were not used after the first world-war. 

Between the wars Tom Tait sold milk from a dairy behind Rillbank and the Tinlins of Denholm Mill Farm had a Milk round with a horse and cart.


There was a small general store between Sunny Bank and Olivers garage, run by a Miss Anderson, later by Lizzie Murray, Miss Lizzie Scott had another at 3 Main Street in part of the building that had once been the Crown Inn. This shop later became a fancy goods shop and then Tom Scott knitwear shop before its conversion to a private house in 1987. The Co-op (Hawick and Jedburgh co-operative Society) was opened in Elm House in 1951 but closed in 1985. The whole building has now been developed by the Eildon housing association and the shop is occupied by Tom Scott knitwear.


Andrew Turnbull had a chip shop next to Lindsays bakery in the house which was then just a one-storey cottage.


There were several small sweetie shops on main Street and at odd corners of the village. Sweets and toffee were often home-made.


This was halfway down Main Street in the house that is now Greenside. It was run for a long time by Miss Agnes Miller. She had a whistle to summon a part-time assistant when a telegram arrived and had to be delivered.

She was followed after the second world war by Mrs Russell and then by James Lawrence. In 1966 the post-office was transferred to Sunnyside where it was run by Jimmy Steel and then by Rob Neil. In 1986 it was moved to Westgate, to Braemar Cottage (so-called because the Hawick knitwear firm of Braemar had a small branch factory there after the second world war).


Braemar Cottage


Mr Palmer had a dispensary in the room on the left of the entrance to the Cross Keys. This used to be a separate house with a pend leading to a courtyard and stables at the back.


Miss Furness had a shop in Birkview in Main Street up until the Second World War. Later Willie Parker, the 'packman,' used to travel the countryside selling drapery from his car or from his house by the pend at the Fox and Hounds.


Jack Campbell had a workroom in the old stocking shop at Rosebank in the Dean Road (now Rosecroft) and Adam Cairns was in Main Street. Later, in the 1930s, Mr Minto worked in Leyden's View and Mr Richardson in Scott's buildings, next to the Fox and Hounds.  


Tom Park was still in 5 Main Street. Later Billy Little had a cobblers shop where the chemist had been (now part of the Cross Keys).


Mr Milligan was in a cottage opposite Swiss villa in the Cannon Gate. Miss Smith recalls a swing between two box beds in the kitchen on which customers could pass the time while they waited! Later George Stormont came out from Hawick every Tuesday afternoon to a shed in Westgate (where the public toilets are now).


In the early years of the century there was a photographer, Hugh  Rigby, in a studio in the Poplars on the small green.


James Scott was the village Saddler for 50 years in the first house in Westgate (now part of Braemar Cottage). 

After his death in 1905 the business was bought by David Dickman who later moved it to Main Street (where Westgate salon is now). He was followed by his son and latterly the business was run by Bill Rae, once a Dickman apprentice. On one occasion Mr Dickman junior was reckoned to have had 17 pairs of stirrup leathers running in the Grand National! The shop also ran a petrol pump on the opposite side of main Street.  

Westgate Salon


The Scotts were in Broomieknowe on the corner of the Dean Road and Douglas Drive, where the Robsons had been in the 19th century. Joseph Laing was in Rockview by the Minto Road. The Cockburn's also worked Rockview smithy for a time but moved in the 1930s to the disused Cameronian chapel behind Poplar Neuk. Mr Cockburn used to work the country, taking a horse and cart up to Bedrule and to the Grange on the Ancrum Road.


Nicholas Furness, grandson of the founder mentioned by Ramsay, had the workshop behind East Gate House until his death in 1936.

Mr Furness

He specialised in carriage and coachwork. The business was taken over by Bob Scott, later by Ian Ainslie, and is now Border Coach Craft. Other joiners were Scott Elliott in Westgate , John Miller, followed by his son Tom, in Main Street, and Bob  Scott, later Peter  Sinton Wight, in the Wynd.  

Timber and coal merchants  

George and James Cairns ran the sawmill at the yard by the Teviot bridge. Later Tom Cairns, carrier and coal merchant, had his lorries there. After the Second World War the coal business was nationalised and the transport lorries were taken over by Ross and Sandy Oliver.


William Oliver had a wheelwright's business and Engineering shop in Leyden's Road, where the garage is now.

Public houses

The Fox and Hounds was run by Jock Sanderson, later Dick Hutchinson, before it was bought in 1949 by Tom and Tib Cairns, later Tib Lothian. After 40 years as a landlady she has recently handed over to her daughter and son-in-law Ruth and Alec Trotter. The Andersons were still owners of the Cross Keys in the early 1900's. Since then it has changed hands many times and is now owned by Peter and Heather Ferguson.

Market gardens

William Murray came to Denholm in the early years of the century and set up a flourishing market garden business. 

   He leased the small green in 1910 and also had land and greenhouses at the bottom of the Canongate where he grew melons, grapes and peaches. Produce was sent as far afield as London. A horse and cart, later a motor van, took it once a week to the station at Hassendean. 

The business was taken over by Mr and Mrs Wood shortly the after the second world war. At this time there was a second market garden run by Ed Scott on the other side of the Canongate. Large greenhouses used to occupy the ground behind his house, Ashlea, where Minto Gardens is today. He also had a shop in Hawick. 

Poultry business

The first Mr Dickman set-up a poultry business for one of his sons who was not fit or able to take up the saddlers trade. The "Dickman hen runs" were on the land behind the gardens in Main Street (the old South Crofts or "eighths"). For a time he also rented land at Garth Side, out on the Jedburgh road.

The farms

The Bulman's have farmed at Denholm Hall Farm almost continuously since 1830's, apart from a period early in the century when George Gray and then Peter Wight were tenants. Tom Bulman returned in 1927, after the death of Mr Wight. The farm is still owned by his daughter, Chrissie. Denholm mill ceased to be a corn mill around the turn of the last century. The Olivers remained tenants until 1921 when Danny Taylor took it over, followed by the Tinlins about 1930. Mr Scott had it for a time before Jock Galloway bought it at the beginning of the 1950s.


The police station remained at the corner of Eastlea Drive and the Jedburgh road until its closure in 1971. The last the village constable was Bob Mole.  



In the early years of the century a horse-drawn bus service was run by Simon Jackson. 

It was a wagonette with a door at the back and a canopy behind to keep off the dust.

Later Jackson's bus was a motor vehicle and in the 1920s it ran in competition with the service set-up by Cairns and Welsh. Their Albion bus, the "old 16", was 6d return to Hawick. Buses would only depart when they had a full load of passengers.


Mr Cairns also ran a taxi service with an old Ford. Mr William Milligan drove a taxi between Denholm and Hassendean and Willie Wight ran a rather erratic service to Minto. Later T B Oliver  had a taxi service.


In the early years of the century the village doctors lived in the house which is now the Manse, known then as Teviot House.

Their coach and horse were kept in the stables behind. Later the doctor's house was Fern Bank, next door, and latterly it was Kirklands, behind the Church. The doctors often dispensed their own medicines.


Dr Heddleston, the last village doctor, retired in 1949 and was not replaced. The village used to have its own district nurse who lived in Elm House, later in the last house before the Teviot bridge.

Fire brigade

The old brigade of local volunteers was not set-up again after the Second World War. From then on the service was provided from Hawick.

Opening of Denholm Golf Course 1907

The golf course, putting green and tennis court  

A nine-hole golf course was opened in 1907. The first tee was by the seat at the top of the Loaning. The membership fee was 1/- later 2/6d, but the golf course did not survive the first World War.  

Between-the-wars there was a putting green further down the loaning, below where Ruberslaw Road is today. It helped to raise money for a public hall. The road to Hawick used to be so quiet that children could play tennis at the bottom of the Manse Brae. If any traffic came there was plenty of time to get out of the way.  

Between-the-wars there was also a tennis court in the field behind Denholm Hall Farm House.  

The Poplars  

The Poplars on the corner of Kirkside got its name from the five Poplar trees planted by an 18th century owner for each of his five sons. The last one blew down in a storm nearly 50 years ago. The same man, Thomas Turnbull, is also said to have built five house's at the end of the main Street for his sons. Connecting doors were built into the attics probably to provide a fire escape but there is also a legend that it was an escape route for smugglers!  

The Poplars

The Text House  

The text house is one of these houses and was originally the same height as the others. In 1910 it was pulled down and rebuilt by Dr John Haddon with text on the front inspired by similar ones on a house and Hawick.

"All was others: all will be others"

"Tak tent in time, ere time be tint"  

   More about Dr John Haddon here..

Dr John Haddon was a good medical practitioner and he was philanthropic enough to buy up several house's in the village and leave them in trust to be let, rent-free, to elderly people who had been born in Denholm.  

The Text House

The Denholm Feuars and Householders Council

In 1920 all but one of the feuars bought their feus from the Laird, Mrs Palmer Douglas, and in 1946 a deed of gift was drawn up whereby the feuars finally became the rightful owners of;

The green and the small green
The Quoiting half and the East bleaching green

The feuars paddock (ground adjoining Rubersvale at the foot of the Loaning)

The old back Road
The Wynd and the path along the back braes
The old cart road (a track from the wind to Minto Road, now Riverside drive)

The strip of ground between the Teviot and Rillbank and Minto gardens

The Mill Wynd

This was all land that they had long looked after by custom or consent but only now did it become their legal property. At the same time the old feuars Committee was replaced by the feuars and householders Council which was to represent not just feu owners but all the village householders and Ratepayers. The new councils prime responsibility with the management of the above common land and right's of way but it also looked after many other amenities and it represented the villagers more general interests before introduction of the community council in 1972.

The Green

The Green was still let for grazing until the 1930s although the public were allowed on to it during the winter months when the cattle were taken off. The official public playground was still the Quoiting Haugh but there was a growing feeling that the Big Green should be given over entirely to recreation, especially as the pasture had become poor due to years of uninterrupted grazing. In 1936 the income from it was only 6. In 1937 the counter clerk agreed to pay 10 per annum for it as a school playground and in 1938 anyone over 16 was allowed on to it to walk or play.

Electricity came into the village in the mid-1930s. At the request of the feuars and householders Council the power lines were laid underground so as not to spoil the Green and centre of the village. The old cobbled causeway down Main Street was lifted and replaced with tarmac roadway and pavement. Residents' parking space was provided on the opposite side of the street and a car park cut out of the corner of the green for those at the end near Eastgate.

After the end of the Second World War the feuars and householders Council worked hard to provide recreational facilities on the Green. From 1942-1951 they ran a putting green on the south-west corner, re-erecting the old fire hose shed as a hut for the equipment. They put up swings and a see-saw for the children who still used the green as the school playground. On the East side was a cricket pitch and football field with goal posts.

Later rose beds were planted and maintained with the help of the school and other volunteers until 1971 when the beds were levelled and grassed over. The Roxburgh county council took over responsibility for cutting the grass in 1963 but the villagers were so dissatisfied with the result so that the feuars and householders Council continued to manage this for several more years.

Gradually the old trees - elms, chestnuts, ashes and limes were taken down, either because they were diseased and unsafe or because they darkened householders property. As a role they were replaced with smaller species hawthorn, lilac, ornamental cherry, acer, sorbus - but a birch was also planted and an old weeping ash still survives at Lindsays corner.

The railings on main Street were requisitioned during the second world war but repairing the walls around the green remained an uphill and expensive task. During the 1950s and 60 is they were gradually lowered or taken down completely and the flat coping stones were laid on the ground as the boundary. The path around the outside of the green was the responsibility of the feuars until 1955 when they were taken over by the county council.

In 1959 that the villagers were alarmed by Council proposal to build a road right across the green from East to west so that through traffic could avoid the bad corners at both ends of the Main Street. The plan however came to nothing and the Green was left intact.

The small green

William Murray the market Gardner had fruit trees on the small green until 1934 when householders complained that they light was blocked out. The trees were cut down and other produce grown there instead.

Mr and Mrs Wood took it over in 1947 and worked it has a market gardener until 1962 when Ed Scott had it for a couple of years. After he gave it up it was grassed over and the wall around it taken down. There was great enthusiasm as this time for a bowling green but after a year or so the idea was abandoned for lack of interest.   

The "wee" Green was kept as a pleasant open space and playground and various individuals and local organisations have donated small trees to plant around it.

The Quoiting Haugh

With the Green becoming the new Recreation ground, the Quoiting Haugh became a place for walks and picnics. The feuars and householders Council sought to the mending of its gates and fences and let it for sheep grazing usually to the tenants of Denholm Mill Farm. Gradually the large ash trees that grew above it were taken down because they overshadowed the new house's in Riverside drive.

The East bleaching green

The lower part of the East bleaching green at the foot of the Loaning was leased in the 1920s to the comrades of the Great War who build the Comrades Hall. The top part was let for some years to Anthony Wilson, gardener, for a greenhouse.

Most of the rest was kept as a drying green with clothes poles until 1960 when swings were put up and playground made for the growing number of children in the new house's on this side of the village.  

Village halls

In the middle of the 19th century public meetings we usually held in the "Auld Scule" on the Green. The new school built on Sunnyside in 1852 was large enough to serve as a village hall and here were held, in Ramsay's boyhood, concerts ,dances, elections and the flower show.

Towards the end of the century however people began to want a separate, purpose-built village hall. A committee was set-up and much fund-raising ensued. 

By 1903 100 had been raised and an appeal was made of for outside help. Not enough money was forthcoming for a new building but the Palmer Douglas family gave over the top floor of Westgate Hall. This was used as a meeting hall and committee room from 1907 up until the 1950s. A stairway was built up the outside to make a separate entrance.  


The Westgate Hall however was not suitable for large gatherings or for recreational activities such as badminton. In 1918 the YMCA. "Red Triangle Club" gave a grant for a building which might be used as a public call providing a religious service was held there once a month. The feuars Committee voted another 100 towards it and in 1921 a former army hut from the camp at Stobs was erected behind the second last building at the West end of the main Street. At last Denholm had its public hall.  

Mrs Somerville
The Somerville trust was set up to raise funds to maintain it. Property was bought with money bequeathed by Mrs Euphemia Somerville who died in 1928. This included Somerville buildings around the arch on Sunnyside where she had lived. It was hoped that the rental from this would generate a steady income for the maintenance fund but the money somehow dwindled and the properties were sold. Other ways were found to support the hall.

For many years it was used by the Badminton Club, a youth club and the Boys' Brigade. Dances, film shows, coffee mornings, concerts, political meetings and the flower show were held there. It housed a lending library and reading room before the county library was set-up and the old cookery room behind the school on Sunnyside (the room that is now the small hall).  

The present school building was opened in 1965 and the old one on Sunnyside became the canteen. In 1983 this too was moved with the aid of grants and more fund-raising the building was converted to become the present village hall. The old YMCA public call in Main Street was therefore no longer needed and was demolished.    

Present Village Hall

Back in 1920 a second Hall - corrugated iron and purpose-built - was erected on the lower part of the East bleaching green by the comrades of the Great War (now the British Legion). This, the Comrades Hall, was used for recreation and social gatherings and carpet bowls were played there in the winter. There was often great rivalry between it and the public call. Latterly it became a grocer's shop.

The Conservation Area

In 1971 the old part of the village was designated a conservation area being "of special architectural and historic interest, the character and appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhanced... It represents a fine example of a planned village formed around the central open space. The designated area includes the main and small greens together with the buildings which front on to them and the approaches to the centre of the village - the Cannon Gate, East Gate, Westgate and the A698."

A considerable number of listed buildings are to be found in this area.

Class A -Westgate Hall

Class B -Leyden's cottage

Class C -the Old Mill at West end, Birkview and Mintlaw, from Cross Keys to 3 Main Street, the buildings around arch on Sunnyside, Leyden's monument, the Church, the Teviot bridge.

New streets and house's

Only a few new houses were built in Denholm before the Second World War. The houses and Jedward Terrace went up in the mid-1930s and building began a few years later in Eastlea Drive and Riverside drive but was not finished until after the war ended.  

  Council prefabs were put up in Ashloaning at the end of the war followed by the 'Crudens semis'  and the 'Orlits'. During the 1950s six more semi-detached houses were built in the Loaning and ten in Murray Place.   [Photo: single storey Orlits]

All through the 1950s the public water supply was inadequate for the post war village but in 1963 a proper supply was finally piped in from Alemoor Loch, above Roberton. The way was now open for more housing development. Many new council houses were built in Ashloaning followed by more in Douglas Drive and Douglas Court in 1966. Another 10 were built at the top of Ashloaning in 1969 and nine pensioners house's replaced some of the prefabs.

In the 1970s and early Eighties there were private developments at Ruberslaw Road, Minto Gardens and at the top of the Loaning. Individual house's have 'in filled' various other smaller sites.

Population in the 20th century

1901 - 349

1911 - 400

1931 - 365

1951 - 500 (estimate)

1971 - 581

1981 - 533

This shows the increase in the village population after the second world war as new house's were built.

The modern village

Denholm now has two small knitwear factories, Tom Scott and Jim Hogarth's, also Border coach Craft, Oliver Brothers lorry transport and several joiners and house painters. Most of its inhabitants, however, have to find employment outside the village and travel to Hawick, Jedburgh, St Boswells or even further afield. It has become an attractive village for commuters and a pleasant place for retirement.

Its residents are fortunate in that today it still has two newsagents and general stores, a butcher's shop, a post office, and hairdressers, a garage and two public houses. It also has the Church, and its village school and a thriving community life.




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