Ambitious plans to turn Caerlee Mills into a multi-million pound business centre have been unveiled to The Southern.
Husband and wife team Anne Marie and Douglas Gow hope their proposals could eventually employ 200 people through various commercial operations on the vast former knitwear site in Innerleithen.
The couple expect to finalise the purchase of the premises by the end of June.
Scotland’s oldest working mill went into liquidation in April, with the loss of 33 jobs, in part due to an £120,000 order which was never paid for.
But Mr and Mrs Gow hope to re-establish manufacturing in a section of the former factory, as well as attracting companies to operate from the site.
And already a 50-bedroom hotel is lined up for the Brodie’s Mill listed building.
Mrs Gow told us: “We were looking at developing Veitch’s in Peebles but at the last minute this (Caerlee Mills going into liquidation) was in the newspapers and it just seemed an amazing opportunity.
“Obviously it is very sad that people have lost their jobs and it is tragic that this is the 13th mill in Innerleithen to close.
“But our objective is to make this a thriving tourism centre.”
Among the proposals, the pair already have interest from Innerleithen Community Trust in setting up a mill museum.
“We also want a retail and wellness centre, and we are also endeavouring to get manufacturing back here, with interest from a couple of parties,” said Mrs Gow, “That is at the heart of what this is all about.
“There were big problems with the boiler system for Caerlee Mills. It was costing them a fortune and that is a problem we are going to address straight away by using biomass heating.”
The plans have so far won the support of Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s representative for economic development.
He said: “Whilst Anne Marie and Douglas Gow have yet to finalise their purchase of the site from the administrator, their innovative proposals are welcome news.
“Not only do they want to open up a number of different business opportunities, but they are also engaged with other partners, including the local community. This could mean that historic elements of the site are preserved at the same time as new employment opportunities develop.
“Following on from the job creation announcements by Johnstons of Elgin at their Leithen Road workshops, this is the second piece of good news for Innerleithen in as many months.”
Any firm interested in taking a space at Caerlee Mills should email Mrs Gow on firstname.lastname@example.org