Plans for a Scottish Centre of Textiles (SCOT) in Selkirk have progressed to the next stage, after the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to sponsor a feasibility study.
The proposal, developed by a group led by textile designer Hamish Carruthers, is to build a national centre to preserve and explain the heritage of the Scottish textile industry on the Riverside Estate in Dunsdale Road – potentially bringing £10-£15million of investment and tourism to the Royal Burgh and wider Borders.
Mr Carruthers told The Wee Paper after his latest meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund on Monday: “We’re still negotiating – they’re a tough bunch of people. We have all these ideas, but does it add up? That’s what everybody wants to know. So we’re now heading on to the feasibility study.” It is expected to take three months, with its findings announced in June.
Ideas for the centre, themed “from fibre to fabric”, include a textile archive on the unused fourth floor of Ettrick Riverside, a manufacturing unit and workspaces for knitwear designers, a museum looking to the past and future of machinery and garments, a gallery, shop and cafe.
A model for the institution is the Textile Heritage Museum in Boras, Sweden.
“It will provide a centre for innovation, skills transfer and technology development to promote the textile industry in Scotland for the future,” Mr Carruthers wrote in his report. “SCOT will be a working initiative, fully equipped to take in fibre and/or yarn and processing it into finished fabric or garments and accessories, which may be sold in a small retail outlet set up as part of the centre.”
Scottish Enterprise, Ettrick Riverside’s owner, has already pledged £10,000, while Heriot-Watt University, which will tie up with the centre, is giving £5,000 towards start-up costs, plus £7,500 from the Scottish Borders Manufacturers’ Corporation. Robin Elliot, owner of Andrew Elliot Ltd, has offered to relocate his Selkirk mill’s historic machinery.
The SCOT team comprises, among others, James Sugden, director of Johnstons of Elgin; Dr Lisa Macintyre of Heriot-Watt University; Rachel Meehan of Scottish Enterprise and Selkirk community councillor and fundraiser Dr Alisdaire Lockhart.
Supporters for the Selkirk textile centre include Fiona Hislop, Cabinet Minister for Culture, Borders College, the Duke of Buccleuch and the National Museum of Scotland.