Iconic Gala tower is restored

Braw Lad and Lass with the Laird.
Braw Lad and Lass with the Laird.

The £150,000 restoration of one of the Borders most iconic landmarks has been completed two years since it began.

Torwoodlee Tower, near Galashiels, was visited by the town’s Braw Lad and Braw Lass, Greg Robertson, and Amy Thomson, on Monday to celebrate the completion of its conservation.

Braw Lad and Lass with Laird of Gala James Pringle.

Braw Lad and Lass with Laird of Gala James Pringle.

The landmark, which dates back to 1601, has played a key role in the town’s Braw Lads’ Gathering since the Galashiels Common Riding first began.

It is there that the Braw Lad digs up the sod while the Lass receives the stone taken from the tower, in commemoration of the 1503 Act of Sasine.

The tower’s owner, James Pringle, the 14th and current Laird of Torwoodlee, launched a funding campaign back in 2001 as the ruin was becoming increasingly dangerous.

The project has now received funding from the Fallago Environment Fund, managed by the Tweed Forum, and Historic Environment Scotland as well by members of the Pringle family from all over the world.

James told the Southern: “The old mortar had run out of strength so it wasn’t holding anything together and the stones were falling off.

“We really were in danger of losing a locally iconic building and all of the history that goes with it, apart from the fact it was becoming dangerous.”

He added: “Torwoodlee Tower has been part of the local landscape for centuries and has a rich and fascinating history.

“We felt it was vital to protect it and are extremely grateful to our biggest funder, the Fallago Environment Fund, and to Historic Environment Scotland and Pringles from across the globe for providing the money required to ensure that the tower could be made safe for local residents and visitors to the region to look at and admire once again.”

Braw Lass Amy said: “It’s really important that they have done the tower up as it’s such an important part of the history of Galashiels and that history will continue for future generations and their gatherings.”

Tweed Forum Director, Luke Comins said: “The Fallago Environment Fund was established to enhance and protect rich built, natural and cultural heritage of the Scottish Borders.

“We provided Torwoodlee Tower with almost half of the total funding required for the conservation project in recognition of the building’s significance in the region and are delighted that the public will again be able to safely enjoy this historic landmark.”