Group looks to revive interest in textiles

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An organisation has drawn together machinery and memorabilia that focuses on the textile trade that once made the Borders great.

And its trustees say that the only way they can see the Great Tapestry of Scotland being a viable tourist trap is for it to be shown alongside their archive.

Project leaders Hamish Carruthers – who has worked at the forefront of textile design for 50 years – and marketing consultant Alisdaire Lockhart have been in talks with Scottish Borders Council about the possibility.

Mr Carruthers said: “We felt all along that if the tapestry is coming to the Borders, it needs to have some sort of back-up.

“And Energise Gala has been very keen to support us.

“When they began talking about the tapestry coming to Galashiels, we were one of the first organisations they talked to.”

The archive includes working machinery and other memorabilia from mills all over Scotland, but mostly from the Borders – including a carding machine from Robert Noble in Peebles, books going back to 1855 from Robert’s Mill in Selkirk, film of a fashion show at Reid and Taylor of Langholm, and the entire collection from the Walkerburn Textile Museum.

The group’s supporters include former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and Lord Purvis of Tweed, as well as a host of top names in the textile industry, including Heriot-Watt University.

The ideal for the group is that the archive, including working machines, will be based in the same building as the tapestry.

When councillors decided at the end of 2016 on the former Post Office building in Galashiels and a new-build next door where the former Poundstretchers store was sited as the home of the national artwork, they also agreed to pursue a link between the tapestry and the archive.

However, it appears that no extra space will be available in the building.

A council spokesman said: “The report agreed by council on December 22 said that officers would explore the possible linkage of the Scottish National Collection of Textiles to the Great Tapestry of Scotland. That work will be pursued.

“There is no commitment to locate anything other than the Tapestry in the new building.”

Mr Lockhart added: “I would hope that when the post office staff move out of the existing sorting office, then that space could contain some of the archive.”