The Old School Thornhill is set to open in 2024 as an entrepreneurial space that supports community groups, charities, small businesses, freelancers, artists and creatives
Work has commenced on the Old School Thornhill (OST), turning it into a unique community hub entrepreneurial centre and venue for arts and entertainment that is expected to open in early 2024.
The Old School will significantly increase office space in the village, with the addition of 4-6 new offices and studios. The main hall will be used as a communal workspace for freelancers during the day and in the evenings it will become a venue for theatre and music performances, and cinema screenings. There will be a community kitchen, a space for lifelong learning, a room for exercise, a meeting space and a room dedicated to and managed by pupils from the nearby Wallace Hall Academy.
OST have Worked closely with Moinaive based Architect John Murray. At the end of 2022 Lockerbie based Broatch construction were appointed as the main contractors – working with Cample-based Armstrongs Joinery who previously undertook the enablements works. They commenced on site in January and are working on site throughout 2023.
Aaron Bell Broatch Construction said: Broatch Construction are delighted to have been appointed as main contractor for this prestigious project. The client’s sustainable aims match our own and we look forward to working with them in delivering an innovative and sustainable community asset.
The Old School was previously Wallace Hall Primary School from 1904 to 2010 , before it was closed to make way for the new Wallace Hall Academy, Primary and ELC. The initial idea for the redevelopment of the closed school came from a group of local parents in 2016. The small collective set about to find a pragmatic way to transform the derelict building into an innovative, design-led, community space that would foster creative collaboration and benefit local communities.
The project is being managed by Samuel Sparrow and David Smith, who have worked together with the board of Trustees since the Trust was formed in 2019 to raise funding. They have been holding Q&A sessions in Thornhill and surrounding villages to show the plan and answer any questions residents may have.
Funding and valuable expertise have been received from the South of Scotland Enterprise. Dumfries and Galloway Council has supported the project with funding from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF), the Town Centre Living Fund and the Place Based Investment fund.
Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Katie Hagmann
said: It’s great to see work starting on what is a really exciting project and a great example of a local development and targeted Council funding which will bring people together and provide a hub for the local rural community.
Vice Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Sean Marshall saidOur Council has worked with this forward-thinking group to combine efforts to bring investment and to regenerate and repurpose the old school for the benefit of local people, to enable them to make their own decisions on what is needed for their local community.
Foundation Scotland has also supported the project through the Clyde and ANCBC Windfarm Funds.
David Booth, Chair of ANCBC said: ANCBC is delighted to be supporting the Old School Thornhill project , this is doing exactly what it says on our “tin” by supporting communities to the overall benefit of a wide range of participants. More especially in the re-use of an existing community asset, and in supporting inward investment into the community. A fantastic project, we offer our best wishes for the construction phase followed by the facility’s wide variety of usage.
The Holywood Trust, the Architerctural Heritage Fund and the local community have supported the project from the very beginning with support for overheads and a contribution towards the capital project.
Karen Ward Boyd from The Holywood Trust said: The Holywood Trust has supported the redevelopment of the Old School Thornhill with the aim of ensuring that local young people will benefit from the new facility and will feel welcome within this new community space. The project has demonstrated a high level of ambition from the start and will provide the local communities with a high quality venue that will respond to local needs. We wish the Board well, along with David and Samuel, in the delivery of this project.
Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, said: This project will transformthe old school into a creative community enterprise hub, offering new opportunities for business start-up, growth and collaboration in the local creative sector.We hear regularly about the lack of small commercial and industrial spaces across the South which makes this development all the more welcome.