PRINCE Charles has agreed to join those celebrating Greenlaw Town Hall’s restoration and he is to visit the village at the end of this month to officially re-open the 19th century building.
He is expected to spend about an hour there on Tuesday morning, May 31, seeing for himself the results of the £2 million refurbishment project and meeting the people who took on the daunting task of bringing the derelict hall back to life against all the odds.
Throughout the renovation period Prince Charles, who is renowned for his interest in architecture, was kept informed of its progress by the Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, Major Alexander Trotter, and his agreement to re-open the building has been met with delight by everyone involved.
“We are a population of 500 people in Greenlaw and we have attracted Prince Charles to visit - it’s unbelievable,” said Peter Leggate, chairman of the project committee which comprised hall trustees and villagers.
“The community has worked hard, and one or two people have worked that much harder.
“About half a dozen landowners each contributed very large sums of money (£10,000) and a lot of people contributed £100s and £1000s on top of that so there was a huge commitment to the building and to save it.”
There were high hopes in the village when the town hall was included in BBC television’s ‘Restoration Village’ in 2006 when projects competed against each other and the viewing public voted for their favourite.
Greenlaw Town Hall came third out of three yet even this setback was turned into a positive by a determined population.
“What it did do was it gave us a huge awareness. Everyone knew where it was, what it was and it was a great support,” added Peter.
“It was very influential in getting some initial funding in from Historic Scotland of £500,000.”
An innovative “enabling planning” scheme saw an area of land on the outskirts of Greenlaw gifted to Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) by landowner Peter Leggate. SHBT then bought Greenlaw Town Hall from the local trustees for £1, and sold the land they had been gifted to Berwickshire Housing Association - the result being £250,000 towards the hall and the building of affordable houses in the village.
Peter described it as a “win, win” situation, adding that the Scottish Borders Council’s planners were hugely supportive as was the housing association.
With additional funding also coming from The European Union in Scotland, Scottish Borders Council, The Architectural Heritage Fund, Viridor, The Monument Trust and other specialist charities, work on Greenlaw Town Hall started in 2009.
Prince Charles will be introduced to members of: Scottish Historic Buildings Trust; tenants Equibuddy; hall trustees; project committee; funders; landowners; festival committee; youth project; village organisations; plus Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust.