Tower trust to be revived

Rhymer's Tower at Earlston.
Rhymer's Tower at Earlston.
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Moves are afoot to help preserve a landmark once home to one of the Borders’ best known historical figures.

A trust set up to look after the historic Rhymer’s Tower at Earlston is being revived after falling by the wayside in the late 1990s.

The tower, now in ruins, was once home to Thomas the Rhymer, a laird and supposed clairvoyant believed to have lived from around 1220 to about 1297.

Scottish Borders Council has agreed to re-establish the trust charged with overseeing the grade-B listed building, and it has appointed its three ward councillors for Leaderdale and Melrose – Iain Gillespie, Jim Torrance and David Parker – as trustees.

In a joint statement, council leader Mr Parker and his fellow ward members say: “We are pleased to take up the role of trustees of Rhymer’s Tower, which is of historical importance locally.

“It is highly likely that we will ask other community representatives to join the trust – for example, from the Friends of Thomas the Rhymer group and the community council, and anyone else who may be appropriate.

“There are a number of issues which the trust needs to investigate, including land and access issues, but the revival of the trust will enable us to retain ownership of the tower and manage and preserve this piece of local history for future generations.”

Responsibility for Rhymer’s Tower, also known as Learmont Tower, was transferred to trustees in 1966, but that trust ceased to function over the course of the next three decades.

That led to it having to be resurrected in November 1994 by the then Ettrick and Lauderdale District Council, only for it to fall into abeyance again within a decade.

The previous trust agreed in 1998 to have building works carried out on the tower, but it failed to stop an access road to the landmark being built on and part of the site apparently being encroached on by a neighbouring business.

In a report to the last full council meeting, the authority’s chief legal officer, Nuala McKinlay, says: “The deed transferring the tower to the trustees states that access to the tower is via the turnpike road. This access route appears have been built over, with no action taken at the time by the trustees.

“It also appears that part of the land has been incorporated into the garden ground, with fish pond, of the neighbouring café.”