Visit Peebles - The Royal Burgh

William Chambers ( 1800 - 1883 )

Born in Peebles, William moved to Edinburgh in c.1814 - later founding the publishing firm 'W. & R. Chambers Publishers' with his brother Robert

He was born in Peebles and moved to Edinburgh in 1814 to work in the bookselling trade and soon branched out into printing. He opened his own bookselling shop in 1819 and founded the publishing firm of W. & R. Chambers Publishers in 1832. He was a keen advocate of popular education and his firm was a pioneer in the use of industrial technologies of publishing to make print available cheaply. With his younger brother, Robert Chambers, he produced books and periodicals of Scottish interest, such as Gazetteer of Scotland. They also made money in promulgating the many new science discoveries as the modern world emerged from prior modes of thinking in such periodicals as the Edinburgh Journal (See below). Their publishing business prospered, and in 1859 – the year in which Chambers's Encyclopaedia saw the light – he founded a museum and art gallery in Peebles.

As Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1865 to 1869, Chambers was responsible for the restoration of St Giles Cathedral and other major town planning exercises. A street created in his 1867 City Improvement Act was named in his memory (Chambers Street) and here in its centre stands a statue to him, by local sculptor John Rhind.