Ruined Gala tower to get £150k of repairs

James Pringle at Torwoodlee Tower.
James Pringle at Torwoodlee Tower.

One of the Borders’ most iconic fortified towers is to have £150,000 spent on it to help prevent further deterioration and make it safe for visitors.

The Pringle Family of Torwoodlee announced this week the start of the project to stabilise the 17th century ruined tower that stands in the grounds of their home, just off the A72 on the outskirts of Galashiels.

An important local landmark, Torwoodlee Tower dates from 1601 and plays a large part in the history of Galashiels and in the town’s Braw Lads’ Gathering.

The original keep was sacked by the Elliots and Armstrongs in 1568 and the existing old house was erected by George Pringle in 1601.

The tower is a good example of the style of mansion which, about the beginning of the 17th century, was superseding the plainer and more traditional tower houses.

The ground floor is still vaulted and provided with loopholes for defence and there is also a shot-hole under the sill of the upper tower window; otherwise the military aspect gives way to one of a more open and peaceful character.

But the remains of the ancient keep have become increasingly precarious in recent years.

So it was in 2001 that James Pringle – the 14th and current Laird of Torwoodlee – and his family launched a campaign to raise the funds needed to consolidate this romantic ruin.

He told us: “That year was the quincentenary of 1501 when we first came to Torwoodlee and it seemed a very apt moment to be thinking of the next 500 years.

“Now, thanks to the generosity of the Fallago Environment Fund, Historic Scotland, local people and Pringles around the world, we are in a position to undertake the two-year project to stop the tower falling down any more.

“When it is finished, it will be safe for people to look at and admire once again. We are, of course, grateful to everyone who has helped, and most especially our biggest funder, the Fallago Environment Fund.”

Luke Comins, director of Tweed Forum, who manages the Fallago Environment Fund on behalf of Roxburghe Estates and EDF Energy, added: “The fund was established to protect and enhance the rich heritage of the Borders and this is the biggest grant given to date in recognition of the importance of this project.”