It’s nigh on impossible to imagine how a community can really function as a
community without some kind of shared space for people to meet. This was the
stark realisation suddenly facing the folk in Tweedsmuir in the Borders when
their only shared space –the local pub – called orders for the last time six
years ago. It has been a titanic struggle to stop the owner converting the site
for housing but at long last there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
ONE of Scotland’s oldest and most historic inns, famous for its literary
connections with the likes of Robert Burns and John Buchan, will reopen its
doors to the public after six years. The 400-year-old Crook Inn, in Tweedsmuir,
in the Borders, one of the first licensed establishments in Scotland, was closed
in 2006 when the owner attempted, unsuccessfully, to convert it into
Following a campaign by locals to keep the pub in its original form, the
Tweedsmuir Community Company (TCC) has provisionally agreed to buy the premises
and carry out any necessary renovations. However, the community must first raise
the £160,000 needed by the end of the year.
During this period the TCC will have access to the property to examine it and
gain estimates for repair work and apply for funding. James Welch, director of
“It has been part of the community for so many years. It was one of those
fairly historic landmarks that people used to stop at going north or south for
lunch or a coffee. But for the community, it also provided one of the most
valuable things: a source of employment in an area where there are few other
The inn proved to offer literary inspiration for Burns, who was a regular,
and was where he wrote his poem Willie Wastle’s Wife. Buchan also frequented the
pub during the time he wrote the adventure novel, The Thirty Nine Steps, and
immortalised the hostelry in his short story, Gideon Scott.
However, the pub, which was also a favourite haunt of Scott, has fallen into
disrepair since it was shut in 2006.
Duncan Davidson, chairman of TCC, said: “It’s in a very bad state, partly
because it had dry rot, which is being treated, but also there have been
burglaries and people going in and stripping out metal from the place.It’s not
fit for use.”
Mr Welch said the final bill for the restoration would far exceed the
£160,000 asking price. “We’ll be looking at a considerably greater investment to
bring it back,” he said.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was several hundred thousand pounds to carry
out a full restoration.”
A spokesperson for Historic Scotland, which has given the property a Class-C
category, said: “Keeping a building in use is the best way to protect its
Established as a licensed premises in 1604 and as a place for drovers to rest
while taking cattle from the Borders to markets in England, the Crook Inn has
had a colourful history.
During the 17th century, a falling out with the local minister led to the
town’s congregation being locked out of the church and the pub became a
temporary kirk. The building also became a Presbyterian meeting house when
Covenanters were being hunted.
Robert Burns was a regular at the inn and it was there he wrote his famous
poem Willie Wastle’s Wife in 1792. But it was during the mid-19th century the
place became an established favourite with the Edinburgh literati, who would go
walking in the nearby hills.
Scots author John Buchan also frequented the pub during the time he penned
his novel The Thirty Nine Steps, and he immortalised it in his short story about
poaching, Gideon Scott.
According to the Historic Scotland, the current property dates back to the
early 19th century, incorporating the remains of its earlier incarnations along
with Art Deco additions from 1936.
We could do with abuyer for The Cross Keys in Ancrum as well