Historic mill’s salvation rests on funding bid

Caerlee Mills in Innerleithen is going into administration again.
Caerlee Mills in Innerleithen is going into administration again.

A last ditch bid will be made next month to save an historic textile mill in Innerleithen from the wrecking ball, writes Andrew Keddie.

A series of funding applications are being prepared by the Innerleithen Community Trust (ECT) in an attempt to breathe new life into the landmark four-storey edifice at Caerlee Mills.

Known originally as Brodies Mill and dating from 1788, the distinctive whitewashed building is currently protected by a B-listing from Historic Scotland.

Despite extensive marketing by site owners CWP Innerleithen Ltd, an end-user for the building – where knitwear production finally ceased in 2013 – has not been found.

“There is little prospect of it ever becoming a manufacturing base again,” said ECT chairman Ross McGinn yesterday. “As a body, we believe it has the potential to produce great community and economic benefit.

“We feel it could incorporate a textile heritage centre, craft units and possibly accommodation for mountain bikers, and this would cost millions.

“Our first bids for feasibility funding must be submitted within two weeks and we have had very positive discussions with Bruce Weir [CWP’s director] who has been very supportive and hopes we are successful.

“However, if we fail, there would appear to be little impediment to the building being demolished.”

Earlier this month CWP received planning consent to demolish other buildings on the site to make way for 35 new houses, the company confirming the first phase of this work would begin “almost immediately”.

As a condition of its listed building consent, the firm must make Brodies Mill, which in its heyday had a workforce of 400, wind and watertight.