June 13, 2023
By hook or by Crook
Anyone who thinks that taking ownership and then running a community asset is either easy or quick, is someone who hasn’t done it before. In 2006, 400 years after it first opened as a hostelry, the Crook Inn in Tweedsmuir (halfway up A701) closed its doors, amidst plans for demolition and new housing. The Crook Inn had always been the community’s only meeting place for miles around and so a campaign was launched to buy back the building and surrounding land and to reopen it in some form or other. 17 years, later their perseverance is starting to pay off.
The site of one of Scotland’s oldest pubs has opened to the public again after more than 15 years.
The Crook Inn at Tweedsmuir closed in 2006 after more than 400 years of continuous operation.
A community campaign to bring it back into use has seen an old dilapidated steading building turned into a café.
The Wee Crook was open for community and private events but it is now opening to the general public for the first time.
The pub was first licensed in 1604 and ran for more than four centuries before its closure.
There were plans to turn it into accommodation but residents battled to buy the property and the Tweedsmuir Community Company (TCC) agreed a deal to take it over in 2012.
The £600,000 overhaul of the old steading is the first part of a three-phase plan to regenerate the site.
It would see a bunkhouse created to offer accommodation before the final phase to redevelop the Crook Inn itself.
Hazel Mason – who has lived in the little village her whole life – will run the café, which is initially opening on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“Growing up here – it was a lovely place to grow up – but we definitely missed having a social area for people to meet,” she said.
“All members of the community really missed out on having somewhere that they could come and meet friends from afar or even just gather as a community.
“So it is going to be a really valuable space.”
As well as a meeting space for the community, Hazel said people passing on the A701 – which runs from Dumfries to Edinburgh – often pulled up to ask about progress on the project.
The old Crook Inn was once a popular stopping point on that route as it is about halfway between the south of Scotland town and the capital.
“We are right on a main road and we always have people stopping asking when we are next opening,” said Hazel.
“So I think it is going to be a great place to stop by on people’s way to Edinburgh for their lunch or a cup of tea.
“It is just the start of what we plan to do here at the Crook Inn.”