Cleikum Kist
By Stewart Wilson

LOCAL historian Ted McKie has been entertaining the good folk of Peeblesshire for many years with his wittily recounted tales of the history of Innerleithen from the earliest times. 

Now, ten years on from the beginning of the ‘Cleikum Kist’ series, Ted has added a third volume – this time with a twist. 

‘Cleikum Kist – Yesterday’s News’ is published once again by Innerleithen Community Trust with all proceeds being fed back into the work of this well-established local charity. 

In this entertaining and enlightening book, Ted has used his skills as an archivist to trawl through press cuttings from local and national papers dating back as far as 1804 to source interesting tales of Innerleithen’s early years of growth from small village to industrial town and the challenges this brought, many of which echo to the present day. 

This marks a change from the first two volumes of authored essays Ted produced and this twist, like all the best trilogies, brings a welcome freshness to volume three. 

These cuttings are shared under various chapter headings with many of Ted’s specialist subjects (The Railway, The Dam, The Kirk) having new light shone upon them. 

Ted has also used this third volume to stretch his wings into the on trend field of true crime – indeed, the court pages the Victorian era Peeblesshire Advertiser and the crimes therein show that while technology has moved on, many of the issues faced in the 19th century are similar to those our community deals with in 2021! 

Of course it must be said that on paper a book of antiquated press cuttings may be of niche interest to the public at large, however what brings this book to life and makes it so gripping is Ted’s customary wit and modern eye which shines through in the asides and notes which link the cuttings together. 

He has the skill of being able to contextualise what must be now thought of as antiquity for a modern audience – surely the mark of a great historian.

This is a book which will appeal to anyone with an interest in Innerleithen’s past, present or future.

‘Cleikum Kist – Yesterday’s News’ published by Innerleithen Community Trust is available now from Smails, TAVO, Framing Gallery, Caddon Court Premier and Whitie’s.

The book can also be ordered on request at 21 Montgomery Street, Innerleithen. Priced at £7 plus £2 p&p if delivery is required.