Potential death-trap empty factory buildings in Hawick are highlighted after alleged fire-raising at a former town mill

After two youths were charged with fire-raising at an old Hawick mill the issue of other potential deathtrap former factory buildings in the town has come into focus.

By Paul Kelly
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 12:13 pm
Town provost Watson McAteer at the site of the blaze adjacent to the town's vaccination centre. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)
Town provost Watson McAteer at the site of the blaze adjacent to the town's vaccination centre. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

Two teenagers, aged 14 and 15, have been charged with wilful fire-raising in connection with a blaze at the former Glenmac mill on Tuesday, December 7.

The nearby High Street was sealed off as emergency services tackled the blaze.

As a legacy of its industrial past, Hawick currently has a number of other vacant buildings which are proving magnets to young firebugs.

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The old Buccleuch Mill. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

They include the former knitwear factory N Peal in Victoria Road, which has been unoccupied for almost a decade.

Woodcock’s old engineering building at Mansfield Crescent has had reports of youngsters getting inside, as has the former Buccleuch Mills.

Until new usage for these buildings and sites is found it’s imperative to keep them secure.

That’s a concern for Hawick provost, councillor Watson McAteer, who has urged property owners to be alert to potential dangers.

Glenmac Mill. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

He said: “At N Peal we’ve had regular issues of youngsters getting in there. Lots of complaints from residents who have seen kids about the place and on the roof.

"The former Woodcock’s building has had kids inside, damage caused and is a fire risk. You contact the council, environmental health and building standards, to check to see if it’s all boarded up, but the problem is, as we know, that the kids can sometimes get in through the boards.

"Owners need to make sure that there are no flammable materials inside, such as empty gas cylinders. The old Buccleuch Mills recently suffered damage through the environment with the roof caving in but we’ve also had kids in and out of the place.

“These big, empty derelict, factory-type buildings are just a magnet for youngsters and we need to make sure that the owners are making sure they are kept safe and secure.

"Some of these buildings will hopefully be brought back to life as part of the renewable strategy but others have been lying empty for quite a period of time. Apart from the danger of fire spreading there is the danger to the kids themselves in buildings like that.”