Plans for new Selkirk heritage centre revealed

Exciting plans for a new heritage centre in Selkirk, which could highlight the history of the town’s Common Ridings, are beginning to take shape.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 8:36 am
Common Riding memorabilia could form a large part of a proposed Selkirk Heritage Centre. Photo: Grant Kinghorn.
Common Riding memorabilia could form a large part of a proposed Selkirk Heritage Centre. Photo: Grant Kinghorn.

Selkirk currently has two museums in the town, both located in the Market Place and operated by Live Borders – Halliwell’s House and the Sir Walter Scott Courthouse.

But now ambitious plans are being drawn up for a different type of attraction that would collect memorabilia representing the town’s Common Riding history and its textile traditions, amongst other historical artefacts related to Selkirk.

Townsfolk are to be asked to look in their garages and lofts to uncover objects and photographs that could be housed in the proposed complex.

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The idea was first mooted by town community councillor Aileen Firth and now a sub-committee of the community council has been formed to take the plan forward.

Among the key considerations is attracting funding and finding a suitable location.

Talks are be held with Scottish Borders Council over potential sites, with the former doctor’s house opposite the Mungo Park statue one option.

The project is one that excites Alistair Pattullo, chair of Selkirk Community Council, members of which discussed the project when they met via Zoom last Monday.

One decision already taken is that the complex should be a heritage centre, rather than a museum.

Mr Pattullo said: “The initial idea was to find somewhere people could exhibit all of the stuff from the Common Riding and the casting associations that are currently stored in garages and sitting in lofts all over Selkirk, anybody that has got anything to do with the casting organisations will have stuff stashed away.

"The idea was to get this stuff out – the flags, the banners, the sashes and find a base to exhibit those.

“We’re now looking at funding and premises.

"We’re right at the beginning of this journey, but everyone is very much up for the idea.

“There are the two museums in Selkirk, but they are both seasonal and run by museum services.

"This would be something much more specifically about Selkirk and the experiences of people in the town.

“For example, the textile heritage is rapidly disappearing, including the people who were involved in it for lifetimes, those working in mills, one by one these people are leaving us.

"If we want to capture any of that history we have to do it now or it will be gone forever.

“SBC has a couple of properties in the town that I think are not being used, one of which is the doctor’s house next to the Mungo Park statue, that was the contact centre and the museum service was also using it as storage space for a time.

“It would great to set up some archive, some memory library as it were of people who remember working in the mills and then record them.

"It could be quite wide-ranging and would depend on what people want to bring to the feast.”