Memories of March Street Mill kept alive by local hotel refurbishment

As the doors close on the historic March Street Mill in Peebles, a local hotel, The Park, has been collaborating with one of the Mill’s former textile designers to ‘upcycle’ many items from the Mill. The items will be incorporated into a planned refurbishment programme at the hotel to keep the Mill’s rich history and local connections alive.

The Park has been closed throughout January in order for the extensive refurbishments to be carried out and it is expected the hotel will remain closed throughout February with plans to unveil the Park/Mill collaboration in the Spring.

Ann Napier was the March Street Mill’s Textile Designer for six years until the Mill announced its plans to close last year with the loss of 87 jobs. Originally established in 1884 by David Ballantyne, the March Street Mill was a fixture of the Borders industry until they failed to find a buyer last summer.

Now, a long standing connection between the March Street Mill and The Park, which was originally built and owned by David Ballantyne’s brother, Henry, is set to weave together once more.

Ann has been using a selection of different tweeds and textiles from the Mill and combining them into soft furnishings including a long banquette seating area in the bar. She has also been collating images for picture walls in the bar area that will bring to life the stories and characters from within the Mill among many other personal touches to reflect the Mill’s impact on the Peebles community.

In other public areas, spaces will be created to hang various pieces of Mill paraphernalia, from shuttles, bobbins and old door signage to disused machine parts. Ann hopes that the ‘upcycled’ spaces inside The Park will capture the spirit of the Mill and offer a space that local people can connect with and reminisce. Ann said:

“The closure is a real shame and has had a significant impact on the local community, but I’m pleased that I’ll be able to carry forward a small part of that heritage into this exciting new project which has enabled us to preserve and repurpose so many incredible items from the Mill’s history.

“Work has already begun on a number of the unique textile and design projects that I have been asked to work on, including the beautiful banquette seating area. It will be exciting seeing the wider project come together over the coming weeks.”

Patrick Diack, General Manager of The Park, commented:

“We are honoured to be playing a small part in the next chapter of the Mill’s story, which has been such an integral and well-loved part of Peebles’ history. The refurbishment is a hugely exciting time for everyone involved with the Park and we hope that the new gallery space, along with one or two other surprising changes, will come to be loved by our guests and locals alike.”