I was asked what was on the site of 1 Blakewell Street before the present house and anything else in the area. Here’s a quick overview.
Blakewell Street (or Road) takes it name from the Black Well which was simply a nearby stream running into the Tweed.
Before the New Bridge was built (1926–28), the West End was very different to what we know today. Buildings first appear on maps as early as 1725. The triangular area in which The Thatch is located was until recently, the more important road leading to Kelso. Blakewell was a later side development. Originally, the south end (where modern houses are today) was open, giving the area the characteristic triangular shape as traffic funnelled into the area.
Detail from military map of 1725.
The red outline is the same area from the far more accurate 1852 OS map. The early map will show this as an approximation as it is on the periphery of the drawing. Even so, there is a correlation between the overall shapes.
This shape is first seen on a military map of 1725, though the area to the north of the Old Bridge appears to be built up and the Kelso road established, on an earlier map of 1682. Sadly, the West End is off this map. This, and a similar map dated 1745, show both sides of West End (the road) being built up in typical fashion: narrow building frontages leading back on long plots of land or other buildings. Two tracks lead from the back to converge to a path leading along the river to what was possibly a ford.
John Woods map of 1822 suggests that Blakewell Road has now been formed with buildings on both sides (at least at the south end but annoyingly, then runs out of space. The first map showing the area in any detail is the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map of 1852. This highly detailed map shows many places of interest. The 1841 census lists a large number of people living in West End Back Street. This is presumably Blakewell Street.
Detail from Wood’s map of 1822. West End is shown as “Road from Kelso”.
Detail from OS map of 1852. 1 Blakewell Street is circled.
Parliamentary Close is a remnant of Parliament Street which was allegedly the site of a meeting beteen Scottish nobility and Edward I to sort out various disputes. Another version of the “parliament” held here was that it was between the Scots and Edward III to discuss terms of battle during the siege of Berwick prior to the Battle of Halidon Hill, in 1333.
No. 1 Blakewell Street would appear to be new build. On the OS 1924 map, there are a couple of ranges of small outhouses (probably) to the west of the boundary line but that is all. The area where the scrapyard is was likewise previously unoccupied.
Detail from OS map of 1924. 1 Blakewell Street is circled.
Aerial photograph 1948. The south end of Blakewell Street can just be seen to the left.
Detail from OS map of 1960. 1 Blakewell Street is circled.
The area between Riverside Road and Riverdene was occupied by the Tweed Iron Works. The Tower Foundery was established in about 1800 by John Robertson & Co. along Dock Road. In partnership with Robert Guthrie, the Tweed Iron Works was established. This appears to have closed in the 1920s; the houses there now have a suggestion of 1930s art deco architure about them.
The West End was served by two churches. At the north end of West End was a Presbyterian Church of Scotland, founded in 1783. It closed in 1972 and the congregation joined St Andrew’s Church of Scotland on Greenside Avenue behind the Elizabethan walls. The Watchtower Art Gallery was originally the (English) Presbyterian Free Church built in 1848.
Two views of Tweedmouth Presbyterian Church, 1971.