Hawick’s flood wall ‘resembles Stalag 17’

As a flood defence wall which will protect Hawick for generations to come starts to take shape the structure’s height has sparked comparisons to a World War Two German prisoner of war camp.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 10:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 10:49 am
Construction of the flood wall at the Common Haugh. (PIC: DAVID PEACOCK)

As part of the town’s long-awaited £88m flood protection scheme three panels have so far been erected at the Common Haugh, to the right of the bridge into St George’s Lane.

It is early into the construction phase but the panels at least give townsfolk an indication as to the height of the wall, which appears in excess of six feet.

The debate over its height was sparked by a tongue-in-cheek online post from retired Hawick care worker David Peacock, 77, who compared the structure to Stalag 17, a German POW camp featured in the 1953 comedy movie of that name, starring William Holden.

David said: “That was my initial reaction, Stalag 17, and I thought ‘where are they going to put the watchtower?’”

However, despite the jokey response David believes the structure will eventually become part of the town’s landscape.

He said: “That was just my initial response but I am all in favour of the flood wall, I think it will be a great thing for Hawick, especially for those poor folk who live along the side of the river who have been forced out of their house twice or thrice.

“All it was is that I got a shock when I saw the size of it. It must be at least two metres if not higher. It will change the landscape, of course it will, but it is for the common good and you just have to think of the benefits.”

Ex-Hawick councillor John Ross Scott, commenting from his home in Orkney, said: “Kirkwall was done just before Hawick started and the wall height was an issue for two years. It is now part of the landscape!”

Others posted comments expressing concern at the impact on the landscape but the overwhelming majority were supportive of the structure.

Hawick councillor Stuart Marshall, chairman of Hawick Flood Group, said: “To be honest there has been at least eight Community Vision Group meetings held in the town during the past few years where the public have been given the opportunity to have a say on the construction and design of the wall. It’s taken nearly 15 years for our town to get to this stage and I for one can only say a huge thank you to our townsfolk and business owners as well as our many visitors for being so patient and understanding during its construction.”