Back in the day if you ever travelled from Dumfries and Galloway to Edinburgh along the Beef Tub Road (A701) you may of stopped off at the historic ‘Crook Inn’ when it was in it’s full glory. But in 2006 the doors closed and ever since the famous building has deteriorated, until now. Tweedsmuir Community Company have awarded a contract to Biggar-based Lawrie Construction so work can begin on “The Wee Crook”, the licensed bistro which is phase one of ambitious plans to redevelop the historic Crook Inn.
When The Crook closed its doors in 2006, leaving a scattered rural community without its heart, few people would have predicted the rollercoaster ride that followed. It took until 2012 for the community to be able to agree a deal with the owner: then a hectic year of ‘Save the Crook’ fundraising saw a tiny village raise the necessary £160,000 with contributions from many to save the building for the community.
But that was just the start. An initial budget of £1 million to reopen the pub that had sat empty for seven years ballooned to £2.1 million, and presented an enormous challenge to the few determined souls led by Dr Duncan Davidson and the Board of the Tweedsmuir Community Company. They set about local consultations, developing detailed plans to bring The Crook back to life as a community hub. These came to an abrupt halt when grant applications to both the Scottish Government and the Big Lottery failed in 2016. However, with support from the Scottish Land Fund and wind farm community funding they raised enough money to buy the surrounding land and remaining buildings on the site.
Setback increases determination
Most people would probably have thrown in the towel at that stage. But Tweedsmuir is not most people! Over the next two years, the volunteers running the Tweedsmuir Community Company came up with more realistic ideas to develop the site in stages, starting with a cafe in the old steading building, to be followed by a new bunkhouse, and finally the inn itself. Planning permission and listed building consent was secured.
The last few months have seen the pace accelerating, with visible signs to tip off local residents that something was finally going on at The Crook. Site meetings, workshops with landscape architects, and most exciting of all, demolition of the derelict manager’s house, clearing the way for rebuilding works to begin. This has all been achieved with support from Scottish Borders Council, who helped the company to secure the major grant funding element required to enable the project.
The huge effort put in by hundreds of volunteers over the years would have come to nothing without financial support. Company board members have spent countless hours making grant applications, and it was the decision from Ventient Energy Glenkerie Community Fund, via Foundation Scotland, last week to contribute the final £62,500 required that unlocked all the other pledges, culminating in the contract signing.
James Welch, Vice Chairman of Tweedsmuir Community Company said: “We are really delighted to have made it across the line and are now able to move our focus to the delivery of a new facility for the Upper Tweed community and to welcome visitors to the area. The support of SBC over the past six months has been incredible, in unlocking the major funding grant from SoSEP, and for enabling us to put this contract in place. The support from local wind farm funds has been instrumental, too, and we are truly grateful to all of our funders for making this happen.”
Generous funding from a range of partners
This exciting community project enjoys great support, both moral and financial, including from the SSE Clyde Borders and Ventient Energy Glenkerie windfarm community funds, which are local to Tweedsmuir.
Now that the construction contract is in place, work on the site will be starting very soon. If all goes according to plan, The Wee Crook should be open for business in Spring 2022.
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