£300,000 revamp of Heriot’s village hall gets under way

A £300,000 project to transform Heriot’s Macfie Hall is under way now that funding has been secured.

Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 9:49 am
Heriot Village Hall volunteers Doug Crabbe, Kate Finlayson, Andy Law and Aileen Collings.

Grants of £10,000 apiece from Scottish Borders Council and the National Lottery’s Awards for All scheme will enable the village hall’s committee to make improvements to the near 100-year-old building.

The project will see the venue’s kitchen refurbished and new toilets and disabled facilities provided, as well as making its main hall more spacious, insulated and light.

“We did a survey of the community two or three years ago to figure out what people want and grew our plans through those responses,” hall committee member Kate Finlayson said. “People want it for opportunities to socialise and hold activities.

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Hall volunteers Andy Law, Kate Finlayson ,Aileen Collings, Doug Crabbe and Lewis Crabbie.

“It could do that quite comfortably before, but it was cold in the winter and the loos were unpleasant.

“We have to bring it up to a standard that will make people are happy to be there.

“We are hoping that once it is done, it will be more appealing to groups in the village like the elderly and those with disabilities.

“The plan is ultimately to see the hall being used more.”

Other funding has been secured from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Robertson Trust, Moore Charitable Foundation and two wind farm benefit funds, leaving the hall committee to raise around £12,000 itself.

Work has already begun and will take until around August to complete.

Kate added: “Things are still a little bit approximate in terms of costs, and there are some items we have had to defer doing, but the project is costing around £300,000.”

The hall – home to the village’s drama group, women’s institute, badminton club and community council – also doubles as a seasonal cafe.

“Last summer, we ran a summer cafe there each Sunday, and it was a great success and proved popular with locals and cyclists. It was a perfect space for it,” said Kate.

“We want to do more along those lines by making it a more accessible space.”

The hall was gifted to the community by the Macfie family of Borthwick Hall in 1921.

Now owned by Scottish Borders Council it is leased to the Macfie Hall charity, made up of a committee and seven directors.

The design for the renovation came about as part of an architectural competition won by Edinburgh architect Oliver Chapman.

Kate added: “We had a lot of entries at the time and they were deemed the best. Plans have changed since then, but he has stayed on board.

“Four windows are being tuned into full-height doors, and we’ll have a terrace area outside.

“The hall has a lovely setting, with views up the valley.

“We’re keen to show off that view and make the main hall a lot lighter.”

“A beautiful stained-glass window has been revealed from behind a permanent stage curtain too, and we’re going to find a way to expose that permanently.

“People are really excited to see what we are doing with it.”