Grant secures future of old Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s Club for its users

Peebles Community Trust chairman Lawrie Hayworth at the town's new community hub.
Peebles Community Trust chairman Lawrie Hayworth at the town's new community hub.

A new lease of life for the former Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s Club is now a certainty, thanks to a £189,000 funding boost.

Peebles Community Trust has taken over responsibility for running the town’s new community hub in School Brae.

It received £189,200 as part of a £2.8m handout from the Scottish Land Fund and is using that cash to ensure the club building remains a welcoming home for community groups.

Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s Club closed its doors last August after a combination of dropping numbers and increased costs saw it run into financial trouble.

The club’s bosses agreed to support Peebles Community Trust in its efforts to buy the building and its running was handed over to the trust until the purchase was complete.

And now that the grant money is through, that buyout has been finalised and the future of the new hub, home to the town’s pipe band, mens’s shed and Tweeddale Peace Group since January, is secured.

Lawrie Hayworth, chairman of the trust, said the buyout will go through next month.

“We were given a right of access to the club by the liquidators in January and that meant we were able to keep it open for its long-term users,” he said. “We fully expect to own the building by the end of October now.

“Going forward, we hope to attract a few more long-term and ad-hoc tenants.

“The community trust will be able to base itself here too.

“The building was a popular venue for other organisations in the town doing fundraising events and coffee morning. We are glad that it is now being retained for the community for evermore.”

The cash handout will also help with some vital upgrades to the 96-year-old building.

“The first thing we are looking to improve are the disabled toilets and access areas,” Lawrie said. “Considering its previous use, the disabled facilities aren’t the best, so that will be priority in the short term.”

The cash is also helping fund the post of hub co-ordinator Alex Wilson.

“Next we want to attract new clubs to use the hub,” Lawrie added. “What we see the hub being able to provide is space for those who use it for sessional use to store materials.

“Unlike in other venues available in the town, we are lucky that we will be able to house materials that are needed for clubs each week.

“We can offer long-term dedicated use to groups such as the men’s shed.”

The group had been looking for a home for almost two years and is now happily settled into its space at the hub, with men and women meeting there each Monday afternoon.

Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s Pipe Band, based there for 80 years, also moved back in January after a short period away.

“It really is a legacy of the ex-servicemen’s committee, both its recent members and those in the past, that this building has been available to the community for so long,” Lawrie added.

“It’s an important building, and we are delighted we have had this right of access and now, come the end of October, can take it forward as official owners.

“We have been fortunate with broad community support too.”

Scottish Government land reform secretary Roseanna Cunningham added: “This funding will enable ordinary communities across Scotland to achieve extraordinary things.”

By taking ownership of these assets – which range from inns, mills and woodlands in rural areas, communities will open up opportunities for a whole range of projects and activities.”