“History is bunk!” declared Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and one of the wealthiest and most famous men who ever lived. “We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present.”
This is not the view taken by historian Ted McKie in his book Cleikum Kist, a history of Innerleithen. For Ted, history and tradition are the life-blood of a community, and should be studied and learned from.
The book is a collection of articles by Ted which have been appearing regularly in the Peeblesshire News, and which have been received with great interest by readers. They are now published by the Innerleithen Community Trust.
From founding of Games Week, through the building of the textile mills and the coming of the railway to the present state of play, Ted tells the story of the town, illustrated by archive pictures and his own photographs.
He has researched historical material industriously, thought it through clearly and set it out in a well-written text laced with wry wit and a nippy sense of humour. Here you will find out all about the Doo Well up at the Pavilion when the town was “a famous spaw”, and Jenny’s Well down by the Leithen Water where Jenny Baptie sold home-made sweeties to the bairns making their way to and from school.
Ted does not neglect to recount more recent history, from the vanquishing of the railway, the destruction of that noted landmark, the tall chimney of the Waverley Mill and the demolition of the mill itself to accommodate new housing.
He frowns upon the introduction of “hideous” street furniture and traffic calming methods which seem to create more problems than they solve.
Cleikum Kist is a book which every Innerleithen family should possess, for their own enjoyment and for the enlightenment of visitors.