Kelso visitors to be hooked by new fishing museum

Fishing on The River Tweed in Kelso.
Fishing on The River Tweed in Kelso.

A new museum celebrating the Borders’ salmon fishing heritage is aiming to hook 10,000 visitors a year, it has emerged.

Scottish Borders Council has given the green light to the fishing heritage centre being located within Kelso Town Hall, in rooms previously occupied by a VisitScotland tourist information centre until November 2017.

The aim is to establish a permanent museum dedicated to the sport of fishing for Atlantic salmon with rod and line, and to celebrate the role the River Tweed and the town of Kelso played in its development.

The applicant, the trustees of the River Tweed, hope to attract local, national and international visitors, and inform them of the historic and economic importance of salmon fishing.

The proposals are for the exploration of 30 different themes and for the display of 1,500 artefacts and documents, with a mock interior of a River Tweed fishing bothy, helping to recreate a scene from a century ago

The bid for the new River Tweed Salmon Fishing Museum, which will have free entry, won enthusiastic support from Kelso and district ward councillor Tom Weatherston

He said: “The town hall is a key feature in Kelso Square and in my opinion it is vital it keeps its identity as a functioning building.

“Tourism is vital to the Kelso economy and a salmon fishing museum in this prime location could help increase footfall and, in turn, local shops and cafes.

“The salmon fishing industry is under pressure just now with declining catches and it would be good if the public could see how things were when salmon fishing on the Tweed and Teviot was in its prime.

“The application would not harm the fabric of this important building and in my opinion would provide Kelso with another attraction.”

In his report, Euan Calvert, the council’s assistant planning officer, says: “This is the most prominent building in The Square and divides Horsemarket from Woodmarket.

“Until recently these rooms functioned as a VisitScotland tourist information centre, but the service has now been rationalised and the rooms are vacant.

“I conclude that this has potential to attract new visitors to The Square.”

From the sport’s beginnings on theTweed, it spread to all North Atlantic countries, the anglers of the region taking the techniques abroad, while Tweed-famed authors Younger, Scrope, Stoddart, Henderson, McVine and Maxwell spread the word worldwide.