Spire work ongoing for big day

The centre of Selkirk is prepared for Friday's moving casting ceremony, but Sir Walter Scott's Courthouse remains under wraps.
The centre of Selkirk is prepared for Friday's moving casting ceremony, but Sir Walter Scott's Courthouse remains under wraps.

Extra renovations are required to Walter Scott’s Courthouse, a historic backdrop to the casting ceremony for Selkirk Common Riding.

And an additional £131,000 has been provided to allow the repairs to the iconic building’s stonework to go ahead.

That handout, made up of £71,000 from the Selkirk common good fund and £60,000 from Scottish Borders Council, will safeguard the courthouse – where Sir Walter dispensed justice to the people of Selkirkshire in the early 19th century – for years to come.

The initial remit of the project, the centrepiece of the £1m Selkirk conservation area regeneration scheme, focused on the courthouse’s steeple, including repairs to its weathervane, refurbishing the clock faces and repairing as much high-level defective stonework as possible within the scheme’s budget.

However, while the renovations were ongoing, it became apparent that further essential stonework repairs were also required to lower sections of the spire.

As a result, additional works will be carried out thanks to the extra funding, with the project expected to now run until August.

While the courthouse itself is mostly still under cover and surrounded by scafolding, the interior of the building will be available for use in tomorrow’s Selkirk Common Riding day, but due to the works, the back doors will operate as the main entrance rather than the famous double doors to the High Street.

Pedestrian access is being maintained throughout the works, co-ordinated with the ongoing Selkirk streetscape scheme.

The £450,000 scheme has provided huge improvements to the town centre, and it hosted its first farmers’ market at the beginning of June.

There have also been additional community benefits, with contractor SBContracts donating a number of old pavement slabs to the Incorporation of Hammermen to use on a community project.

In a joint statement, Selkirkshire councillors Gordon Edgar, Caroline Penman and Elaine Thornton-Nicol said: “We are delighted to provide additional funding through the common good fund to help ensure the longevity of the iconic Sir Walter Scott Courthouse.

“We realise this extension of the project has an impact on the common riding for this year, but we hope Souters will understand the importance of carrying out further repairs to this prominent town centre building.

“Alongside the streetscape works, which are all but complete, Selkirk town centre will be transformed into an attractive destination for visitors and locals, able to host events and markets.

“There are information boards available on the Sir Walter Scott Courthouse project in the courthouse coffee shop, which remains open alongside all other town centre shops during the works.

“It is also pleasing to hear that the old pavement slabs from the town centre will be recycled for use by the Incorporation of Hammermen.”