Silence in class as bulldozers flatten schools

Bulldozers have moved in to flatten two Borders schools after they were both deemed surplus to requirements.

By Paul Kelly
Monday, 26th October 2020, 5:25 pm
Updated Monday, 26th October 2020, 6:59 pm
Howdenburn Primary School in Jedburgh is demolished. (PIC: BILL McBURNIE)
Howdenburn Primary School in Jedburgh is demolished. (PIC: BILL McBURNIE)

The classrooms at Howdenburn Primary in Jedburgh and St Margaret’s RC Primary in Hawick once echoed to the noisy chatter of young children.

Now those buildings are being flattened and cleared to make way for new developments, with the demolition of both properties being carried out by Glasgow-based contractor JCJ.

Pupils at Howdenburn Primary, which was built in 1970, have been transferred to the town’s new inter-generational campus at Hartrigge Park.

Scottish Borders Council has put the 5.6-acre Lothian Road site on the market through Galashiels firm Edwin Thompson, with the company marketing it as a “development opportunity”, a spokesperson adding: “The site is within the Jedburgh development boundary and is identified as a regeneration site.”

The asking price for the property has not been revealed.

The local authority granted approval for the demolition of St Margaret’s in Buccleuch Terrace in Hawick last October.

Built in the 1950s the decision to close it was taken due to a rapid fall in the school roll, with occupancy falling to just 14 per cent at the end of 2017. It finally closed the following summer, with most pupils switching to nondenominational schools nearby.

That move was agreed amid fears that, if allowed to continue standing empty, the building would become a target for vandals.

The former school site is now earmarked for parking and as a new access for retirement apartments being built at the former Peter Scott mill close by.

The school has special significance for Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson, with many members of his family having attended there.

He said: “I believe they got a special contractor into the school to clear out asbestos that was in the building. The building was past its best and it would have cost a fortune to repair it. There was some thought originally that it could be saved and used as an art studio but the state of the building meant that was not possible. My mother went to that school, my granny went to that school as did by auntie and uncle but it was just going to cost too much to repair it.”