BCS Autumn Newsletter 2022

Published by Joy Dobie on


The Annual General Meeting of the Berwickshire Civic Society will be held on 15th November 2022 at 7.30pm in the Volunteer Hall, Duns. The meeting is open to members and to the public. Drinks and canapes will be provided.


We were all able to get together for an evening event at Marchmont in the Spring to mark 50 years of the Society. We were hosted by Hugo Burge and his team in the creative centre and not only were able to talk amongst ourselves but were also able to see and talk about the work in progress with the resident artists and craftspeople. Over 70 people attended with good wishes sent by others and it was a delight to see everyone after the miserable years of lockdown and covid restriction. People nobly endured an address by the Chairman before getting on with the essential business of catching up and exchanging ideas. One benefit of the evening was the recruitment of new members, one of whom has subsequently joined the board.


Following on from the success of the Marchmont event, the Secretary organised a stand at Duns Show. We outlined our new purpose – the caption at the head of the page – to a number of folk who stopped to talk, and handed out our new promotional badges for Berwickshire. Both John Lamont MP and Rachel Hamilton MSP were duly badged and more importantly took note of our continued work on behalf of Berwickshire. We could have done with more members assisting us – it is a fun day out and the work is hardly onerous so we would welcome willing volunteers for next year’s event.


Shelagh Townsend Rose retired from the board this year. She is to be thanked by everyone – she and a few others have kept the Society alive over some very lean times and her enthusiasm and wise counsel were always worth hearing.

Adrian Smith has joined the board. He was recruited by Will Ramsay and brings an impressive range of skills and contacts to the mix. He can only devote a shortish period of time to the Society, but his impact on the thinking of the board has been marked and very positive.


A number of our members have passed away in the past year, and we regret and mark their loss. Two stand out for extra note:

Peter Leggate had been associated with the society from the outset. Indeed, he was mentioned in the very first newsletter that was published a little while after the formation of BCS. He was a valiant campaigner for a series of projects including the rebuilding of the De La Bastie monument by Edrom and in more recent years a lynchpin of the Greenlaw Town Hall restoration saga. We could fill several pages with his achievements on behalf of Berwickshire but suffice it to say that he is and will be greatly missed by us all.

Alexander Trotter as the Lord Lieutenant following General Sir John Swinton was a long term member of the society and an integral part of the Berwickshire community and story. Often able to provide a quiet word or two of advice and support where it was most needed, he leaves a significant gap in the ranks of our friends and members.


BCS continues to provide commentary on the planning applications for Berwickshire. Often unseen and unremarked, these interventions are an important part of the continued relevance of the society. From time to time, our comments are reported in the local media, but more saliently, they are given proper consideration by the planning officers and planning decision makers. In 2022 so far, we have commented on nearly 90 cases, most of which were not contentious. The process is now fully digital and is not as intimidating as folk might think – we would welcome assistance in the process by any interested person willing to undergo some training from the Chair. The case load would be very moderate. Please contact the Chair or the Secretary if interested.


We have been contacted by the public with concerns in respect of a number of buildings of importance in Berwickshire. Following the shameful decisions by Historic Environment Scotland to cease maintaining many of their buildings and to fence them off from the public on a spurious pretext that masonry might be a hazard, and after the Church of Scotland decision to retrench, we have had to face the prospect that a considerable number of churches and church buildings are or will be made redundant. We made considerable enquiries in respect of the Grade A listed Ladykirk church building which was sold to a private purchaser without much in the way of public notice. We are reassured that the new owners are talking to us and are enthusias-c about their management of the building, but it will remain on our watch list for a while yet. Less good news attaches to Eyemouth Burgh Chambers which was damaged by Storm Arwen without any repairs being carried out by Scottish Borders Council subsequently. The building is now in unmanaged decay and is firmly on the UK buildings at risk register. Finally, we mention Greenlaw Town Hall. This Grade A building was the talk of the Borders a decade ago with a TV programme, a high profile restoration at great expense and a reopening by the Duke of Rothesay – now King Charles III. It had become subject to vandalism recently after the company that bought it was dissolved and there was considerable uncertainty over ownership.

BCS has been at the centre of an enquiry into ownership and the galvanising of local groups to become involved with the building – Jill McColl is to be especially thanked for that effort.


We are delighted to have been of assistance to the community based project to restore the Coldingham Merkat Cross.


In September 2022, the Society was asked to take on the mentorship of the project for a flag for Berwickshire. This will require significant effort but is achievable. The board is already involved in preliminary planning with assistance from the office of Lord Lyon King Of Arms. We are also committed to developing the society to reflect the needs for the future – not least of which is the involvement of children and young people in identifying with Berwickshire.


People! We lack bodies to do things. If anyone wants to help, we can find a task for you however nervous you might be about volunteering. We really do need a Facebook and Media person. It is a statement of the obvious, but the more volunteers we have, the lesser the work that needs to be done. If you are able to operate from a kitchen table even just once a week to update Facebook and send out media releases, please contact

Brian Payne Chairman BWPayne@msn.com

or Joy Dobie Secretary secretary@berwickshirecivicsociety.org

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