†14 November 2017

A cultural organisation based in Peebles, Scottish Borders

Tweeddale Society logoPanoramic view of Peebles

The Chambers Brothersí Contribution to Peebles & Scotland in the 19th Century


Rosemary Hannay



Rosemary HannayCover of Chambers Memoir

The lives of William Chambers (1800-1883) and Robert Chambers (1802-1871) spanned almost the whole of the 19thcentury and their influence is apparent in many of the major intellectual and cultural developments of that century in Scotland.

From very humble beginnings in the Scottish Borders town of Peebles, the boldness and ingenuity with which they seized every opportunity led to the transformation of the publishing industry in Britain and through it, the growth of the self-education movement. Their role in such diverse areas as the massive slum clearance programme in Edinburgh, the restoration of St Giles Cathedral and, most controversially, Robertís role in the development of evolutionary theory which† scandalised the polite society of Edinburgh, illustrates the scope of their influence in their time.

Their determination to succeed was allied with a strong philanthropic ethos which was the inspiration for Andrew Carnegie and has left a strong though largely unrecognised mark on both their native Peebles and on Scotland.

Rosemary Hannay is a graduate of Glasgow University and holds a Diploma in Museum Studies† from Manchester University. She worked in museums in Clydebank, Eyemouth and Kelso before becoming Curator at Tweeddale Museum in the Chambers Institution, Peebles, in 1986. She retired earlier this year.

Cover of Chambers Memoir