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Tower Mill and Heritage Hub

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Formerly Known As

Project Background

Tower Mill is the only mill in Scotland to be built on a bridge, a characteristic found at tide mills and on large river systems in mainland Europe but not elsewhere in the UK. It is also notable for having the largest surviving waterwheel in a textile mill in southern Scotland. This massive wheel was the first in Hawick to generate electricity in 1900.

The mill was built by Messrs William Elliot & Sons, hosiery manufacturers, of stone from an earlier building. William Elliot & Sons remained the mill's owners until 1950.

Textile manufacturing plays a key role in the history of Hawick. Conveniently situated for water-powered milling at the meeting of the River Teviot and the Slitrig Water, Hawick became one of the richest burghs per capita in Scotland as a result of the industry. (Historic Scotland)

Finally fully vacated during the 1980s, the complex's condition deteriorated rapidly. Being centrally located, its appearance and condition was a constant concern for Hawick residents. Increasingly viewed as a blight to the town, some members of the public called for its demolition.

A key factor to the successful renovation of the buildings was the formation, in 1999, of the Heart of Hawick Townscape Heritage Initiaitive (THI) with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Initiative identified the former mill as a critical project.

Scottish Borders Council carried out an initial package of structural repairs to the buildings, with support from the Local Enterprise Company. A proposal for an arts and culture led regeneration project for Hawick and the wider Scottish Borders began to be developed in collaboration with the local community, through a Working Group.

Opening to the public at the end of 2007, The Heart of Hawick programme delivered essentially three projects:

Heritage Hub - Scottish Borders Archive and Local History Centre
Tower Mill - Cinema, theatre and conference centre, VisitScotland Tourist Information Centre, coffee and music house and ten rentable working spaces
Civic Space - external improvements designed for use by events and festival, 20 stall farmers market and open cafe, also providing views across the river.

The project went on to secure a number of awards, including:

Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF) Award for 2007
Edinburgh Architectural Association Award
Enterprising Britain - Scottish winner
Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning 2008 - Development on the Ground category.

More information on the project and current events at the complex can be found on the website.

Building Information

Building Dates
Listing Category
Conservation Area
Planning Authority
Date of Entry to the Risk Register

Image Gallery


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Development Project Information

Project Architect

Design team led by Gray, Marshall and Associates Architects

Project Client

Scottish Borders Council

End Users

Hawick residents and visitors

Overall Project Cost

Circa £7 million, which includes Tower Mill, Heritage Hub and Public Realm Works

Grant Aiders

Scottish Borders Council
European Union
Heritage Lottery Fund
Scottish Arts Council

Project Contacts/Information Sources

The Heart of Hawick Project:
Mark Douglas, Scottish Borders Council