South Scotland

Councillors agree to fund new home for Great Tapestry at Tweedbank

Tapestry Bannockburn Image copyright Alex Hewitt

The Great Tapestry of Scotland will be permanently based in Tweedbank, after Borders councillors agreed to fund the move.

The Scottish government has pledged £2.5m towards the scheme.

Scottish Borders Council was asked to allocate up to £3.5m.

A report reckons the building could draw tens of thousands of visitors a year to the site, which is near to one end of the new Borders Railway line.

It was approved by 21 votes to 10, ensuring the tapestry will be housed close to the railway's main terminus at Tweedbank, subject to planning permission.

Councillor David Parker, leader of the council, said: "I am delighted that elected members have supported this project and we hope to provide a truly inspirational visitor centre that will act as a gateway to the Borders and encourage visitors not only to view the tapestry but to go to the many other visitor attractions throughout our region."

Councillor Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development, said: "The business case and design of the proposed Tapestry Centre at Tweedbank was compelling and I have no doubt that we will provide a first class national and international attraction that visitors to the Borders will want to see."

Officially the world's largest embroidered tapestry, the 469ft (143m) artwork uses 300 miles (483km) of yarn to depict 42 million years of Scottish history across 160 panels.

It has toured around Scotland but the Borders, with its history in the textiles industry, has been keen to house it on a permanent basis.

The total cost of constructing a building to host it - including a cafe, workshop and exhibition space - has been estimated at around £6m.

A council report described it as a "unique opportunity" for the Scottish Borders to have an "exhibition of national significance" with ties to the region's textiles traditions.

Projected visitor numbers to Great Tapestry permanent home
Year one 55,000
Year two 50,000
Year three 47,000
Year four 47,000

"It will provide a potential hub for local and international events," it added.

"A location at Tweedbank has the opportunity to create a destination for the area with direct links to other local attractions such as Abbotsford House and Melrose Abbey," the report said.

It said it could also link to the further development of the area and proposals for a Central Borders Business Park.

Consultants forecast that it would bring money to the local economy and provide the equivalent of 17 full time jobs.

Not everyone in the region agrees that Tweedbank, at one end of the Borders to Edinburgh railway due to open next year, is the best location.

Some councillors in Hawick are unhappy that what they see as the capital of the area's textile trade was not given greater consideration.

Conservatives were unhappy no attempt was made to source private investment before public money was committed. They warned services would suffer.

Do you think the Scottish Borders should become the permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland? And, if so, do you believe Tweedbank is the right location? Email us your thoughts on selkirk.news@bbc.co.uk.

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