THE opening of a new local family history centre in Hawick could boost visitor numbers to the town, culture secretary Fiona Hyslop has claimed, writes Kenny Paterson.
Ms Hyslop launched the service at the Heritage Hub on Monday.
The facility will allow people to research their heritage from national as well as local records, giving Borderers access to information covering more than 80 million Scots and stretching back 500 years.
Ms Hyslop said: “In the Year of Creative Scotland, this is a fantastic opportunity for more people to connect with Scotland’s rich heritage through researching their family history. There’s increasing evidence that ancestral tourism is a growing and important niche market for Scotland – some 50 million people worldwide claim Scottish ancestry.”
The archives are available as the Heritage Hub is now linked into Scotland’s People databases, with centres in Glasgow and East Ayrshire also set to be upgraded.
South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse welcomed the new service, as he continued his ancestral studies. He has discovered a link to the Turnbull family whose roots date back to a farm in the Cavers area in 1767.
“I always knew I had a link to the Turnbull family, and was proud of that connection, but until I started looking into it in more depth, I had no idea of their fascinating history and I am sure many more will enjoy researching their own roots,” said the SNP member.
“This new service is also a potentially great economic opportunity for Hawick and the Scottish Borders as a whole.
“Locally, we are in a great position now, through the facility in Hawick, to offer those interested a more localised dimension to ancestral tourism and access to a wide range of information, to help many local people and visitors to trace their roots in the Scottish Borders.
“I look forward to seeing people of all ages, nationalities, and with varying interests, using the Scottish Borders’ centre at the Heritage Hub and am extremely eager to get to grips with further investigating my own ancestry over the summer.”
Vicky Davidson, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for culture, sport and community learning, said: “Being able to offer Scotland’s People services through the Heritage Hub is a real achievement after the new archive facility was opened a few years ago. For staff here at the Hub, this is the icing on the cake.
“The Scotland’s People website will be a great addition to the work by registrars’ and archivists’ departments, which already work together to meet the needs of our local people and visitors to the Borders.”
More information can be found at www.ancestralscotland.com