Sunday, 11 December 2011

Moffat then and now

"Moffat residents 'clean and decent'
Residents in Moffat in 1837 were described as 'particularly clean and decent'.
The Statistical Account of that year also praised the way that townsfolk spoke: "Their language is among the best samples of English to be found in any Scottish village."
It goes on: "There is hardly any smuggling or poaching, and low and gross acts of immorality are seldom heard of in Moffat."
It includes facts about daily life in the town, such as:
curling, bowling and billiards were popular sports
a subscription and circulating library operated locally
there were two daily newspapers
no houses were uninhabited
There was no manufacturing industry but the town could boast plenty of services, ranging from 50 weavers, six shoemakers, six tailors and eight merchants, to one watchmaker, two bakers, five masons, six wrights and one surgeon.
And it was also a popular tourist destination, thanks to the location of the Moffat well.
According to Graham's Social Life of Scotland in the Eighteenth Century: "In spring there meet round the little wells of Moffat a throng in their gayest and brightest from society in town and country, sipping their sulphur waters and discussing their pleasant gossip ... city clergy, men of letters, country gentlemen and ladies of fashion and the diseased and decrepit of the poorest rank, who had toilsomely travelled from far-off districts to taste the magic waters." (reprinted in Moffat News Dec 8 2011)

175 years later, in December 2011 a letter to The Scotsman confirmed:
Your article on successful 'themed' towns in Dumfries and Galloway omitted a notable example: Moffat. Our theme, admittedly as yet unacknowledged as a brand, is 'hospitality' – we have the greatest number of pubs, cafes, restaurants, B&B's, and hotels of any town in D&G. Plus, remarkably for a town of our size (2,499 residents), we have virtually every other civilised amenity on or just off our high street: a bank; a library, two GP surgeries; vet; churches; chemist; deli; co-op; ironmonger; convenience store; clothes shops; gift shops; hairdresser; butcher; baker; book shop; blacksmith; garages; garden centre; newsagents; post office; beauty parlour; physio/osteopath; jeweller, a cottage hospital and a police station. Many of these are housed in a magnificent collection of Georgian buildings associated with the finest flowering of the spa, which spanned three centuries from the 17th –20th century. We were also once the reserve venue for the Wimbledon All England Championships – the real ones ie croquet not tennis.


  1. Just a wee correction, the article reprinted in the newspaper was on 8 December 2011, not 2001 ... but how great to read that Moffat has been able to retain most of what was good about it right through 175 years to 2011. I hope that there will always be people willing to work to keep it a wonderful place to live and to visit for generations to come and to keep at bay those who wish to change the lovely atmosphere that exists here.

  2. Jennifer Wilson adds: And don't forget the theatre!!