Great Tapestry of Scotland's new home in Galashiels 'is good to go'

  • Published
Tapestry CentreImage source, Phil Wilkinson
Image caption,
The centre in the Borders will open to the public on 26 August

A new permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland is ready to open in the Borders.

The purpose-built gallery in Galashiels will host the massive artwork which is more than 140m (450ft) long.

The multi-million pound project was delayed due to Covid but will now open to the public on 26 August.

It is hoped the tourist attraction can play a part in the wider regeneration of the town by attracting more than 50,000 visitors a year.

Image source, Scottish Borders Council
Image caption,
An old pound shop was demolished to make way for the facility
Image source, Phil Wilkinson
Image caption,
The project is part of wider plans to help regenerate the town centre

The story of the home for the 160-panel artwork has been a lengthy and at times contentious one.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) originally planned to build the centre in Tweedbank - at the terminus of the Borders Railway - with thousands of people signing a petition against it.

The alternative Galashiels site was later chosen as having greater regeneration potential.

However, concerns about its cost and the visitor boost it will deliver to the entire region have remained.

Image source, Scottish Borders Council
Image caption,
The tapestry was hand-stitched by a team of more than 1,000 people

An old pound shop was demolished and the site of a former Post Office brought back into use to create the new building.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland was the brainchild of author Alexander McCall Smith and designed by artist Andrew Crummy.

It was hand-stitched by a team of more than 1,000 people across Scotland, led by Dora Wilkie.

Mr McCall Smith said: "The opening of this wonderful gallery marks the end of a long period of hard work by all of those who have created this astonishing tapestry and its permanent home.

"But it also marks the beginning of the public life of one of the great artistic creations of our time."

Image source, Phil Wilkinson
Image caption,
It is hoped tens of thousands of visitors can be attracted to the site every year

SBC's Mark Rowley said the local authority was "exceptionally proud" to open what he described as a "phenomenal gallery".

"I have absolutely no doubt that this will draw in visitors from far and wide and will be an incredibly important development for this region," he said.

Centre director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes said there had already been "significant interest" from tour operators around the globe in visiting the site.

She said the new building was a "fantastic opportunity" to highlight "all that is great about Galashiels, the Scottish Borders and the south of Scotland".

Image source, Phil Wilkinson
Image caption,
The artwork which tells the story of Scotland is made up of 160 panels

Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said the centre could support wider economic and social regeneration across the south of Scotland.

VisitScotland's chief executive Malcolm Roughead added that it was a "fantastic addition" to the region's tourism offering.