Plans for Jedburgh’s abandoned Port House building pick up pace

A Jedburgh building vacant for over a decade looks set for a new lease of life, thanks to a £187,000 grant.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 12:00 am
Updated Thursday, 24th October 2019, 12:29 pm
Jim Thomson, Len Wyse, Norman Kerr and Rory Stewart at the Port House in Jedburgh.

The Port House, in Exchange Street, is on the verge of a major makeover turning into a resource hub for local businesses and community groups.

Jedburgh Community Trust, the charity that bought the three-storey building for £150,000 in 2010, has secured money from the town’s £1m conservation area regeneration scheme to restore and develop the A-listed building.

Alongside that cash, it has secured development funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund, allowing it to appoint a conservation-accredited design team to help develop proposals for the former department store.

Colin Gilmour CARS Project, outside the Port House.

The £187,500 coming from the regeneration scheme will be used to restore the external fabric of the building using traditional methods and materials, while other sources of funding are being sought to make the 8,000sq ft interior fit for use.

Trust chairman Len Wyse said “The key aims for the trust are to ensure that the Port House is restored appropriately, brought back into use to benefit the community and generates sufficient income to ensure its long-term sustainability.

“The development funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund has allowed us to progress our plans for this fantastic building, and we are working hard to secure the necessary funding to keep the project moving forward.

“Our recent community consultation has been very positive and shows great support to both save and bring this significant building back into use.”

The Port House, one of the town’s 130-plus listed buildings, was designed for the Jedburgh Co-operative Store Company in 1899 by Hawick architect James Pearson Alison.

Its metal-framed structure, large windows and “curtain walls” were unusual then, making it one of the most innovative buildings of its time and type in Scotland.

Regeneration scheme project officer Colin Gilmour has welcomed the plans for the complex, originally made up of two three-storey buildings, now merged into one, and three adjacent garages.

“It is great news that the Jedburgh Community Trust is progressing with plans for the restoration of this building,” he said.

“The design, particularly of the facade to Exchange Street, would certainly have been a leap of faith by the Co-operative Society at the time, and it will be great to see the building restored and brought back into use.”

The trust, formed in 2002, has been working Historic Environment Scotland, the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust and Scottish Borders Council as well as the regeneration scheme, community council and tourism and marketing group on the restoration project.

A professional options appraisal has been carried out by the historic buildings trust and conservation architect’s Adam Dudley Associates, £50,000 has been spent making it wind and watertight, and community consultations have also been carried out.

Jedburgh Community Council chairman Rory Stewart added: “It is excellent news that the project is making progress.

“It is a fine building that has been empty for too long.

“The community council is pleased with the way that regeneration scheme funding has supported improvements in the town, and the contribution to the Port House restoration is most welcome.

“We need to preserve our historic environment for the benefit of residents and visitors, and the restoration of this A-listed building is a positive move forward.”

Applications for planning and listed building consent will be submitted to planners this week.