Vandals warned of dangers at Jedburgh’s Allars Mill site

Vandals repeatedly targeting a derelict mill in Jedburgh could be dicing with death, a councillor has warned them.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 31st October 2019, 12:00 am
Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown at the old Allars Mill site, where youths have been setting fires.
Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown at the old Allars Mill site, where youths have been setting fires.

Town councillor Jim Brown fears someone will be seriously hurt or killed if fire-starters at the abandoned Allars Mill site aren’t stopped.

“Kids have broken into various workshops there, and it’s a bit of a death trap now, to be honest,” Mr Brown said.

“It’s really in quite a dangerous state down there.”

Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown at the old Allars Mill site, where youths have been setting fires.

The site, just off the A68 on the outskirts of the town and next to the bowling club rooms and green beneath Lothian Park, has lain empty for at least five years.

And of late, it has become a magnet for either youngsters using it as a playground or vandals causing destruction.

Mr Brown’s warnings comes after youths are believed to have been behind the latest fire there, started in one of the outbuildings at the site the week before last.

Though the original four-storey William Laidlaw of Hawick’s blanket mill was demolished after it closed in the 1960s, one of the original outbuildings, believed to have been built around 1894, remains in place.

The site was bought by Harrison’s limeworks in the 1960s, and it kept one original outbuilding and built a store and public weighbridge there too.

That original outbuilding is now in poor condition, not having been touched for at least five years since Thompson’s of Prudhoe, the quarry operator and demolition firm that took over the site from Harrison’s in around 2001, pulled out of its depot there.

The firm still owns the site but it’s failure to put any security measures in place, leftit a target for the vandal attacks and led to it being dubbed an eyesore by townsfolk.

Concerns are now being voiced that there could be a tragedy as more and more of the interior of the outbuilding, including wood from its walls, windows and doors, are set alight by vandals.

“Kids are getting in and causing havoc,” Mr Brown added. “I’m told there’s very little that can be done, apparently, but that’s not really good enough.

“They’ve gotten in and started fires and so on.

“Just the other week, I got a message about another fire down there. I’ve been for a look and you can see the evidence. There’s not an awful lot there to set light to, but the vandals are managing it.

“They’ve been setting fire to doors and whatever else they can find. My main concern is that it is unsafe and just how easy people get in there.

“Problems like that are appearing in towns all through the Borders. Look at the old Emtelle factory and the hospital in Hawick.”

It’s the abandonded mill and limeworks store in Jedburgh, both just a stone’s throw from the town’s bowling club, that Mr Brown most concerned about, though.

And despite seeing some success in his bid to have the site made secure, vandals are still loitering in the area.

He added: “I got in touch with the enforcement officer at Scottish Borders Council to see if they can contact the owners and see if it can be made safe.

“They have put a bit of pressure on and it has since been fenced off.

“They have been down and things are looking a bit safer, however it is still an absolute eyesore right next door to our beautifully upgraded bowling green.

“But I’ve since have had a report that the vandals may have moved their sights nearby and that a window has been smashed in the outbuilding at the bowling club next door.

“The two park benches, which went missing from nearby High Park recently, were also found in the mill building and have been returned, undamaged, to the park.”

In 2014, an application to demolish the buildings and build 25 houses there was withdrawn after sparking objections over accesibility.

W and M Thompson failed to respond to our request for a comment on the site’s future.

for the buildings and site.