Balerno is a semi-rural residential area to the west of Edinburgh. It lies to the north of the Pentland Hills and forms the gateway to the Pentland Hills Regional Park.
It might sound Italian, but the name Balerno is believed to originate from the Gaelic Ballernoch which means ‘sloe-tree stead’.
In the past, Covenanters passed through the district and, in fact, fought nearby. By 1750, Balerno’s population was about 500. It seems reasonable to assume that Burns probably travelled close by the village on his way from Ayrshire to Edinburgh.
Once a small village community, with farming, quarrying and paper making as its main industries, Balerno sits in the valley of the Water of Leith, long-time conduit for supplies heading into Edinburgh. The village sits on an old and well-trodden drover’s road from the west on which animals were driven to market in Edinburgh in years long gone.
The Water of Leith was used as a source of power for the various mills along its length producing paper, lint, flour, barley, snuff and spices, not to forget a mill which turned wood for bungs for use in whisky and beer barrels.
1874 saw the arrival of the railway which unobtrusively followed the Water of Leith from the centre of Edinburgh to Balerno where there was a Station and Goods Yard. The railway closed to passengers in 1943, and to freight in 1967. Its line towards Edinburgh now forms part of the Water of Leith Walkway.
The last fifty years has seen great change in Balerno with the construction of many residential housing developments. The population has increased to about 7,000 with Balerno now a popular commuter town for workers travelling to/from Edinburgh on a daily basis. However, despite its much increased size, Balerno retains its own identity and village atmosphere, while having the convenience of Edinburgh close by.
There are two main schools in the village; Deanpark Primary School which can trace its roots back further than our Club, and the relatively new Balerno Community High School. As can be read elsewhere in this website, the Balerno Burns Club has a very long tradition of helping our local children experience the works of Burns whenever it can be fitted into the busy school curriculum.
There are a number of thriving sports and social clubs within the community including Balerno Bowling Club, Currie Chieftains Rugby Club and two Burns Clubs; our own ‘Let it Blaw’, and our sister Marchbank Burns Club which started in 1959 due to insufficient space at ‘Let it Blaw’ to accommodate all who wanted to attend.