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Living in Galashiels: The Local Area Guide

Galashiels is a small Scottish town and burgh, and capital of the Borders region. Despite its small size it is an economically important town for the area, and its picturesque surroundings make it an attractive destination for hikers, cyclists and lovers of the outdoors.

The town has some historic architecture to boast too, not least the Buckholm Tower just outside of the town - a five-hundred-year old building. There are also some extensive, mysterious earthworks dating back to the time of the Picts.

Galashiels Scottish Borders location means its history is littered with Anglo-Scottish conflicts, with raids happening in both directions. The towns motto, 'sour plums', stems from one of these incidents where an English patrol was ambushed and beaten while they had stopped to eat unripe plums. Ever since then, locals have produced and eaten a sour boiled sweet named 'soor plooms'.

Another cultural tradition is the yearly Braw Lads Gathering, which happens in June and celebrates the town's history with parades on horseback, music, drinking and eating.


As of the latest census, Galashiels has a population just a tad under 15,000. The residents are predominantly White Scottish at 84%, with a further 8% describing themselves as White Other British. Just under 2% originate from Ireland.

In terms of age, Galashiels is fairly typical of a Scottish town. The mean age is 40.4, while for Scotland it is 40.3, and 66.9% of people are of working age. 16.6% are children, and 16.6% are over the age of 65. When asked to report their health, more than half of residents said it was 'very good' and a further third said it was 'good'. Under 5% of people said their health was 'bad' or 'very bad'.

The town's unemployment rate is a little higher than the Scottish average at 5.9%, and a further 14.3% of people are retired. Of those that do work, the largest section find employment in the wholesale, retail trade, health or social work sectors.

Home ownership is, on average, lower than the norm for Scotland. Across the country 62% of houses are owner occupied, while in Galashiels that figure is 54%. 14.5% are privately rented, which is a little above average, and around 30% are used as social housing. The types of homes available varies greatly, with 16% of houses being detached, 18% semi-detached, 20% terraced and the largest section, 46%, being flats, apartments or maisonettes.

Education rates in the town are fairly in line with Scottish averages - about 27% have no formal qualifications, and 23% have reached Level 4 qualifications or higher.



There are 11 primary schools across Galashiels within the catchment of the town's only secondary school, Galashiels Academy.

The academy can trace its history to the 17th century, although it was re-founded just before the second world war. It serves children from the age of 11 to 18, and academically performs very well. More than 80% of S4 pupils achieve Level 4 Literacy and Numeracy, which is above average for Scotland, and the school has been noted for its consistent improvement.


Galashiels Railway Station, on the old Waverly Line, suffered from the Beeching Closures and was shut down in 1969. However, after a lengthy campaign Scottish Parliament pushed through an act to open it up again in 2006. The process was finally finished in 2015, with the Queen formally opening the line in September.

It is now possible to reach Edinburgh in less than an hour, with two trains per hour running through the station. The railway station is also home to the town's bus interchange.

Amenities and Shopping

Galashiels is small, but its retail options are better than you might expect thanks to relatively recent development projects on the town's old industrial sites. There are now major supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco, and high street brands like Next and Marks & Spencer. The town also has a good selection of places to eat and drink.

For more major shopping trips, and for fashionable outlets, a trip to Edinburgh is easy enough by train.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

p>All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith

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