Community use hopes over Kelso hall conversion

Bowmont Hall, Kelso
Bowmont Hall, Kelso
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The disused Bowmont Hall in Kelso could still be the answer to providing accommodation for local youth groups.

Local Scottish Borders councillor Alec Nicol (LD) raised the subject at last week’s meeting of the town’s community council.

The Bowmont Hall, located in East Bowmont Street, is a former drill hall. It comprises one large main room, together with other accommodation on two floors at the rear of the main room.

When Scottish Borders Council carried out a technical survey of the hall, officials found that it would cost too much to bring the facilities up to standard, so it was decided to close the premises to public use.

But that meant the town lost a valuable community facility. Then, in November, 2006, the FutureKelso group held a public meeting in Kelso Town Hall.

This drew a large gathering, with representatives from a range of local youth and arts groups who confirmed there was a demand for the kind of spaces proposed.

The local authority agreed it would rent the hall to ­FutureKelso for the nominal sum of £1 with the proviso that funding was found for the project within three years of any agreement.

Although it took more than a year to resolve legal difficulties in assigning the lease, an agreement is now in place.

There is now a Bowmont Hall Project Committee, which was formed under the FutureKelso umbrella and consists of representatives from groups which attended the meeting in 2006.

Mr Nicol told The Southern this week: “I have had meetings with the Cheviot Youth Group over the past few months about starting up a much-needed youth club in Kelso. They are looking round for suitable premises and The Rezz at the back of Abbey Row is considered to be far too small.

“As FutureKelso we have again looked at the Bowmont Hall as a possible venue. We have an arrangement with Scottish Borders Council to buy the hall for £1.

“However, there is a condition that we have to find the finance to do all of the repairs and improvements needed to open the doors. At the moment it is in much need of some structural repair and would need new toilets and meeting rooms inside.”