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Hawick, Kirkstile, Tower Mill

A Category A Listed Building in Hawick, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.4212 / 55°25'16"N

Longitude: -2.7883 / 2°47'17"W

OS Eastings: 350200

OS Northings: 614429

OS Grid: NT502144

Mapcode National: GBR 85ZR.4G

Mapcode Global: WH7XG.4ZHW

Entry Name: Hawick, Kirkstile, Tower Mill

Listing Date: 19 August 1977

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 378910

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB34619

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Hawick

County: Scottish Borders

Town: Hawick

Electoral Ward: Hawick and Hermitage

Traditional County: Roxburghshire

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Circa 1852. 3-storey former mill (now converted for cultural and commercial use) with long, splayed rectangular plan following bend in road, carried across Slitrig Water on single segmental arch. Random whinstone rubble with droved yellow sandstone ashlar dressings. Eaves course. Long and short quoins. Tabbed window margins with projecting cills. 10 bays to W (Kirkstile), 6 bays to E (Tower Knowe); 4 bays to S (Silver Street). M-profile piended roof.

30-pane glazing in timber frames (see NOTES). Grey slate roof with metal ridges.

INTERIOR: Plain cast-iron columns supporting timber ceiling beams. Water wheel and boiler frontage in basement (see NOTES).

Statement of Interest

A good, mid-19th-century former textile mill retaining its original waterwheel, traditional in style but advanced in construction, being supported on a single arch spanning the Slitrig Water at the heart of Hawick.

Tower Mill is the only mill in Scotland to be built on a bridge, a characteristic found at tide mills and on large river systems in mainland Europe but not elsewhere in the UK. It is also notable for having the largest surviving waterwheel in a textile mill in southern Scotland. This massive wheel was the first in Hawick to generate electricity in 1900.

The mill was built by Messrs William Elliot & Sons, hosiery manufacturers, who had been granted permission to pull down an earlier mill on the same site. It is believed that much of the stone from the demolished building was reused in the construction of the new one. William Elliot & Sons remained the mill's owners until 1950.

The building was comprehensively refurbished in 2006-7 by Gray, Marshall & Associates to house an entertainment and commercial centre. The structural elements of the interior were retained, with the exception of the area now housing a theatre, where the cast-iron columns and ceiling had to be removed. The windows were originally fixed panes, but for the purposes of the refurbishment - known as the 'Heart of Hawick' project - a new tilting form was introduced, following the 30-pane glazing pattern of the original. Glass additions have been made to the west and east elevations, but the building otherwise retains its original profile. The waterwheel is visible from above through a glass floor, and the frontage of a Manchester boiler installed in 1876 to supplement the power provided by the wheel has also been retained in the basement. The ground floor and basement of the mill have opened out to incorporate those of No 2 Tower Knowe (listed separately).

Textile manufacturing plays a key role in the history of Hawick. Conveniently situated for water-powered milling at the meeting of the River Teviot and the Slitrig Water, Hawick became one of the richest burghs per capita in Scotland as a result of the industry. During the 19th century, water power was superseded by steam power, and tall chimneys came to dominate the town's skyline. Tower Mill did not escape this trend: the power supplied by the enormous waterwheel was supplemented by a boiler, the frontage of which remains in the basement. This boiler was originally connected to a circular brick chimney at the south-east corner or the building, but the chimney was removed in the 1960s. Its base is visible from the exterior, and a part of its internal structure, now supported on new joists, can be seen from the staircase installed within that corner during the Heart of Hawick project. List description revised following resurvey (2008).

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