Campaigner Madge keeping up calls to get Hawick back on track

Borders Railway campaigner Madge Elliot and son Kim with Holyrood presiding officer Ken Macintosh.
Borders Railway campaigner Madge Elliot and son Kim with Holyrood presiding officer Ken Macintosh.
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One of the leading lights in the campaign for the opening of the Borders Railway made further calls to have it extended to her home town of Hawick during a visit to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Madge Elliot is renowned for her fight to save the Waverley Line – linking Edinburgh, Hawick and Carlisle – prior to its closure in 1969.

Madge Elliot, her son Kim and MSP John Lamont at Holyrood.

Madge Elliot, her son Kim and MSP John Lamont at Holyrood.

During a campaign to keep the railway line in the Borders, Mrs Elliot collected a petition of 11,678 signatures. With her 11-year-old son Kim and Liberal MP David Steel, plus bagpiper Harry Brown and the then earl of Dalkeith, she delivered it to then prime minister Harold Wilson at 10 Downing Street in December 1968.

Despite the line’s closure, she continued to actively campaign for its reopening as a member of the Campaign for Borders Rail.

Her persistence finally paid off in September 2015 when rail services began again on the 30-mile track from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, and now she wants to see the track extended to Hawick and on to Carlisle.

Last week, the 88-year-old visited a new photographic exhibition on the history of the Scottish Parliament, with one of the images on display capturing Mrs Elliot, made a Member of the British Empire in 1999, travelling on the newly reopened Waverley Line.

The photo of Madge featured in the exhibition.

The photo of Madge featured in the exhibition.

She said: “It meant a great deal to me and the community in the Borders to get the railway line reopened, and, of course, the Scottish Parliament played an important role in the change coming about.

“I am really pleased to see this story on display in Holyrood.

“The railway line is breathing new life into the Borders.

“Every time I see the train, like this morning as we came to visit the Parliament’s new exhibition, it brings a smile to my face.”

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont welcomed Mrs Elliot and her son Kim to the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “It is absolutely fitting that this new exhibition pays tribute to the hard work of Madge and other campaigners to bring back part of the Waverley line.

“Madge has visited the Scottish Parliament a number of times to push for the new line, and it was down to her hard work that the legislation was passed to begin the process of reopening the railway.

“While the results of her efforts have been great, Madge agrees with the need to continue to press for the line to go on to Hawick, her home town, and beyond.”

John added: “Very fittingly, Madge took the train to the Parliament and said she was very impressed with the service.”

The Campaign for Borders Rail is now focused on the network’s extension to Hawick and Carlisle and is lobbying for a feasibility study as soon as possible.