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Sir Walter Scott 250 anniversary logo

Sir Walter Scott 250th Anniversary

The Abbotsford Trust has a large project celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott. Kelso is part of the Walter Scott story; he attended Kelso Grammar School, stayed with relatives in and around Kelso, and his books were first printed in Kelso. To mark the anniversary, various activities are planned, details on our website of those around Kelso, and on the SirWalterScott250 website for events across the whole of Scotland.

Orchard prior to planting in 2019

Kelso Abbey Community Orchard – Glebe Lane

The Kelso Abbey Community Orchard occupies a small plot of ground within the Scheduled Site of Kelso Abbey.  The Orchard is managed by Kelso Heritage Society. It is sited at the foot of Glebe Lane, opposite the entrance to Mayfield Garden Centre.

We believe that there may have been apple trees tended by monks within the Abbey Gardens when the Abbey was active.  We have a map of the area from 1823 which shows an orchard on the site at that time.

In late 2019 the Orchard was planted with 16 local varieties of apple tree.  Children from local schools assisted with the planting.

More details of the Orchard, the archaeological investigation of the site, and the trees planted are on the pages about the Orchard.

The Orchard will be of benefit to the community and we will maintain open access for recreational purposes.

Kelso Town Hall

Kelso Town Hall & Visitor Centre

Following the withdrawal of “Visit Scotland” from the Town Hall, various proposals to make use of the historic building in the centre of Kelso have come forwards.

River Tweed Salmon Fishing Museum, a registered charity, has reached an agreement with Scottish Borders Council to open a Museum within the building.

Kelso Heritage Society wishes the Museum every success, and hopes in time it may be possible to use space to display other information on covering the rich and diverse historic, cultural and environmental heritage of Kelso and surrounding area.

Period postcard view of bridge

Tree Coppicing at Kelso Bridge

In 1857, a cartographer working for the Ordnance Survey was in Kelso, to map the town. He recorded in his mapping book that ‘Kelso, must be one of the most beautiful towns, of its size, anywhere in Europe’. That is quite an accolade. He was not alone in his appreciation of the beauties of Kelso. Many visitors before and since, have written eloquently of the magnificent setting, in which Kelso lies.

Not long after Kelso Bridge was built in 1802, an Italian visitor stated that, if in Britain, it was worth making a trip to Kelso alone, to view the beautiful bridge there. Visitors today, struggle to see John Rennie’s masterpiece, the first bridge to be built with elliptical arches. Over the last 40 years, trees have slowly grown up obscuring the view. More worrying perhaps, is the damage that some of these trees could be doing to the bridge structure, as some trees are actually in direct contact with the bridge itself.  There is a significant complication in establishing ownership of land and therefore responsibilities for maintaining trees, compounded with trees and vegetation growing within old riverside walls which are at risk of erosion from water.  Hopefully soon, funds will be found to coppice some of the trees, closest to the bridge.

Floors Castle with river in foreground

Kelso’s Historic Features

A walk over survey, carried out by two of the Heritage Society Trustees, identified a significant number of historic features, old building details and old street signs, which would benefit from conservation or restoration. The list of potential conservation works generated is extensive, and in order to progress such a programme, will require to be broken down into manageable stages. This will allow phased applications for funding. In many instances, progress will be dependent on establishing the ownership of buildings and property and on negotiations with the property owners. This project will link closely with the proposed update and expansion of the Kelso Town Trail Booklet.

A Kelso Town Trail Plaque

Kelso Town Trail Booklet & Map

A Kelso Town Trail, with historic information plaques and leaflets, was established over 30 years ago, in conjunction with Scottish Borders Council and a number of community based organisations in town. The trail is in urgent need of an upgrade. Kelso Heritage Society, plans to work with local organisations who have an interest in promoting the town. A new town trail booklet and map are proposed. The use of social media to tell Kelso’s story, will also be explored.