Welcome to the Roslin Heritage Society

meetings for Season 2019-2020 (non-members welcome)

Origins of the Society

Towards the end of 1967, the village of Roslin was under threat of a massive expansion beyond its natural boundaries by a planning application from a speculative building contractor. Many people in the village were so incensed that it was decided to form Roslin and District Amenity Society to co-ordinate objections, and this primary aim was later expanded to safeguard and improve our amenities. The proposed housing development was eventually rejected by Midlothian County Council and an appeal from the contractor was dismissed in December 1969 by the Secretary of State for Scotland following a public inquiry.

Roslin Kirk, Penicuik Road

Penicuik Road some years later

For the next few years, the Amenity Society was active in preserving and improving local amenities but when the Roslin and Bilston Community Council was inaugurated in 1974 with George R Campbell as its first Chairman, this Council assumed control of many of the objects of the Amenity Society. The Society continued to meet however, and in 1979 a sub-committee was formed to prepare a brief history of Roslin and in 1981 a comprehensive book about the History of the Roslin Churches was produced to commemorate the centenary of Roslin Kirk. This was updated and reprinted in 2006. The sub-committee then went ahead to produce a History of Parish Schools from 1829 to 1980 for presentation at the opening of Beeslack High School in 1984.

Roslin Gala Day at the School

Roslin School Playground

At this time the sub-committee was designated the Roslin Heritage Group and later renamed Roslin Heritage Society in 1988. The Society continued to research the history of the area producing numerous leaflets and papers along the way and holding several exhibitions of old photographs and maps. There are monthly meetings from October to April with a lecture by a visiting speaker or a member of the Society, covering a wide range of topics. A newsletter is produced each year outlining what has been accomplished during the year and includes the syllabus for the new session.

Cars outside Roslin Gunpowder Mills

Sulphur & Saltpetre Refineries

A major project in 2000, funded by the Millennium Forest for Scotland Trust, was to research the history of Roslin Gunpowder Mills and to produce a CD-ROM recording the findings so that the information could be preserved and shared by others. The Gunpowder Mills, once the largest in Scotland, operated deep in Roslin Glen for 150 years, only closing in 1954. With over 600 pages of pictures and text, based on contemporary newspaper reports, photographs, and reminiscences of local people and former employees, the CD gives some insight into the sometimes dangerous occupation of making gunpowder and working in a munitions factory in war time. The last section of photographs shows how a once industrial area can return to nature and it is now part of Roslin Glen Country Park. The launch of the CD-ROM took place with a huge display of photographs of the Mills.

The Road Bridge over the N Esk is extended

Henry Widnel & Stewart's Carpet Factory

The book Old ROSLIN, published by Stenlake Publishing followed and includes photographs mostly from local residents and from the Bryce Collection held by Midlothian Local Studies. It tells the story of Roslin from its beginnings in AD 199 when legend has it the village was founded by Asterius, through to the Battle of Roslin in 1302, the building of Roslin Castle and the Chapel. It continues showing the growth of the village into the surrounding countryside and the development of industries including bleachfields where it is known that Queen Victoria had linen bleached, a carpet factory, the gunpowder mills, a coal mine and associated brickworks. Now the industries tend to be bio-sciences and technology, in their own way giving Roslin a place in history. The launch of the book Old ROSLIN again took the form of a huge photographic exhibition.

Roslin Main Street

Hay making at the Butts

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© Roslin Heritage Society 2011