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The local area guide to living in Dumfries
Home to some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery, Dumfries is often referred to as ‘The Queen of the South’. With red sandstone buildings and charming terraced housing lining stunning coastlines and nestled among thick forests, it’s a beautiful area of the country that encourages nature tourism.
However, despite its peaceful atmosphere today, Dumfries has a turbulent history that spans the time of the Romans, the Saxons and the Picts. There are still remnants of that history in the town today, including the Devorgilla Bridge from 1432, that sits across the river Nith. There is also St Michael’s churchyard, which is home to the mausoleum of famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Today, the town is one of the largest in the area, and was the county town of the former county of Dumfriesshire. It has long enjoyed its prominent reputation from its time as a market town, to its time as the county town and during its long history in between. Rather uniquely, the town was home to the exiled Norwegian army during World War Two. This fact, among others, is just a taste of the history that lies beneath the gorgeous veneer of this town.
Information about the local residents
Dumfries currently has a population of approximately 32,000. The population in the town itself has been rising steadily over previous years, but surrounding areas tend to be quiet and rural with sparse numbers of residents. The town has a history as a market town with a busy port, but the industry has seen a decline in recent years.
Secondary school students in Dumfries have a choice of four schools – Dumfries Academy, Dumfries High School, Maxwelltown High School and St Joseph’s College. All have high pass rates, with the standard grade pass at 98.5% and the higher grade pass rate at 76%. One of each of these schools can be found in each district of the town, ensuring that wherever residents live a school is nearby.
In terms of primary level education, parents will also find there are a range of suitable schools available. Of particular noteworthiness is Loreburn School. There are currently 184 pupils enrolled, and the school boasts relatively impressive statistics in terms of student achievement. Around 90% of pupils at the P7 level have been recorded as performing well or very well in reading. In terms of numeracy, 66% of pupils at the P7 level have been recorded as performing well or very well.
The town was also home to a university campus, the first multi-institutional campus to be founded in Scotland. While the initiative later collapsed, the University of Glasgow maintains its presence in Dumfries, and offers undergraduate programmes in primary teaching.
There is one railway station in Dumfries, which connects the town to Carlisle, Glasgow and Newcastle, with services operating on the Glasgow South Western Line. Edinburgh can be reached by changing at Carlisle, while many other Scottish cities have direct routes into Glasgow.
With limited rail links available, driving is the most popular way to travel around Dumfries. Travelling north, the A76 leads to Ayr while the A701 is the most direct route to Glasgow. Dumfries is also at the intersection of the A75, which takes you to Stranraer or towards the English border.
Dumfries town centre has recently taken a hit from a 2008 U-turn on a planned multi-million pound redevelopment, and has also been set back by a newly added bypass. However, despite these speed bumps, culture and retail continue to thrive in the town.
The pedestrianised centre is a great place for shopping, with a variety of high street chains such as Next, Debenhams and Sports Direct available. The Loreburne Centre is a popular destination for shoppers.
There is a wide selection of entertainment options on offer in the town, including Scotland’s oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal, and the Robert Burns Centre, which features an arts cinema. There are also museums to visit, such as the Aviation Museum and the Dumfries Museum.
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