Collection from ‘the voice of rugby’ will speak to future generations

The late Bill McLaren in his study or, as it was known, his 'glory hole'.
The late Bill McLaren in his study or, as it was known, his 'glory hole'.

The first steps have been taken to create a new digital rugby heritage archive in Hawick.

The venture is being given a try with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the Bill McLaren Foundation, the Hawick Rugby Club and Live Borders.

Thousands of documents, photos and a miscellany of rugby memorabilia from celebrated commentator and ‘voice of rugby’ Bill McLaren’s house have been transferred to the archives in Hawick’s Heritage Hub.

A similar volume of material from Hawick RFC will be transferred to the climate-controlled facilities at the hub over the coming weeks.

In a joint statement, Ross Cameron, a Bill McLaren Foundation trustee, and Paul Brough, Live Borders’ archive manager said: “We are delighted to be working as partners.

“This is a fantastic, world-class collection of rugby-related materials. Working together, we intend to realise the exciting plans given such an enthusiastic thumbs-up by the feasibility study conducted by Alan Jones Associates for Hawick Rugby Club last year.”

Murray Watson, a Hawick Rugby Club member and honorary research fellow at the University of Dundee, has spent the last two and half years finding and sorting all the material.

He said: “The next step will be to start fundraising in earnest. Our plans involve creatively harnessing modern digital technology to bring this unique collection to a diverse range of audiences.

“We plan seven outreach strands including, traditional archive use, reminiscence therapy programmes for people with memory problems, a programme of public meetings and showing old rugby videos, engaging with primary school pupils across the globe, as well as creating an online research group and providing nominal linkage services for family historians.”

Linda Lawson, Bill McLaren’s daughter said: “Dad would have been absolutely delighted with this news.

“He gathered and kept so much stuff from way back in his teenage years. It is a veritable treasure trove that people from all over the world will soon be able to enjoy.”