The Caledonian Mercury on 24 March 1808 carried an advert which would have been of interest to anyone wishing to have tweels, diaper, damask or cloth bleached at the Roslin Bleachfields.
The proprietors promise that particular care is taken to preserve the fabric, and that a beautiful colour is given to the cloth, which would be “returned regularly within three months”
This was before bleaching became a chemical process with the discovery of chlorine, and the south facing slopes of the Pentlands may have provided a good, dry, sunny area with a clean water supply in which to spread cloth and fabrics on the ground to be bleached by the action of the sun and water [the bleachfields are now the Roslin Glen Country Park Car Park ]
There were bleachfields in all textile towns, but the Roslin fields attracted custom from across the Borders area – cloth could be handed in at the Warehouse in North College Street, Edinburgh [now Chambers Street] or through agents – like William Beck, merchant in Hawick , and our cornet in 1808.
William Beck, hosier, was Cornet in 1808 – and his son Robert Beck was cornet in 1834.
The family was an important one in Hawick in the 1800’s – and I try to disentangle the original William Beck who came to Hawick from Dumfries/Carlisle to start the stocking making workshop you can see today in the Round Close, from his 1808 Cornet son William Beck hosier/merchant and his son, Robert Beck flesher [who rented the Bleachfields in the Under Haugh to graze his animals before slaughter, but moved away to a good job as a Third Class Clerk. All in Robert Beck 1834