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August 31, 2021

Woven into Galashiels

The railway line from Edinburgh to Galashiels was ripped up 50 years ago as part of the reshaping of Britain’s rail network prompted by the (infamous) Beeching Report. Hindsight is a great thing but back then the car was king and no one could have foreseen what a success the recently reopened Borders railway would be. Prosperity seems to fan out along the route and it has been the catalyst for countless new developments in Border towns. Chief amongst these must be the new permanent home for Scotland’s largest ever community arts project – The Great Tapestry of Scotland.

Gregor Young, The National

THE new purpose-built Great Tapestry of Scotland gallery, visitor centre, cafe and workshop space has been revealed in its permanent home in Galashiels. It comes ahead of its public opening on August 26.

The latest addition to Scotland’s national cultural scene was unveiled as world-renowned author Alexander McCall Smith – whose vision it was to create a tapestry telling the history of Scotland – carefully positioned the 160th and final tapestry panel in place with chief stitcher Dorie Wilkie.

Those who would like the opportunity to be among the first to enjoy this compelling new visitor experience, telling the people’s story of Scotland, are now being urged to book ahead at great

The brainchild of McCall Smith and designed by artist Andrew Crummy, the Great Tapestry of Scotland is one of the world’s largest community arts projects.

Hand-stitched by a team of 1000 stitchers from across Scotland led by Wilkie, more than 300 miles of wool was used in creating the 160 linen panels (enough to lay the entire length of Scotland from the border with England to the tip of Shetland).

The design of the panels is based on a narrative written by Scottish Borders-based award-winning writer and historian Alistair Moffat.

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.”

Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, centre director for The Great Tapestry of Scotland, added: “We are absolutely delighted to be opening the doors of our new purpose-built visitor centre, with its stunning architectural ceiling sculptured to reflect the town’s Victorian roofscape.

“This presents an exciting opportunity to support the economy, create local jobs and enhance the cultural and educational opportunities.”