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.
The name might sound Italian but 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 9,000
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; Dean Park Primary School which can
trace its roots back further than our Burns 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 (venue of our annual suppers in recent years),
Currie Rugby Club and two Burns Clubs; our own Let it Blaw, and our sister
Marchbank Burns Club which started in 1959 due to there being insufficient
space at Let it Blaw to accommodate all who wanted to attend.
An expatriate paper worker once wrote in the “World Paper Trade Review”
“I want particularly to say that I had a very happy life as a boy and man in what
I’ve always looked upon as a very happy village. Balerno at the time was the
happiest village I’ve ever known, and I do most sincerely hope it’s so continued.”
Many of us would say it has !