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Industry's no deid

You might know it as Bell's, Buccleuch Mill, or even Criterion Mill if you want to admit your age.

The jagged-headed former mill has been an imposing site on the south end of the town since 1878, and until 2002 the whole complex was the site of Arthur Bell (Scotch Tweeds) Ltd.

At its height, 160 people were employed in the mill. Folk from Langholm and the surrounding areas every morning appeared at the mill to begin a day's graft, and left in the evening; no doubt exhausted and hungry but with the quiet satisfaction of having earned their keep.

You will hear from every corner of the community that those days have long since passed. The textile boom reached its conclusion and took with it a steady income, a bustling economy and jobs for all.

It left in its wake vacant buildings - unfit for purpose and a sad reminder of what once was.

Or, that's how it might look from the outside.

In 2008, a vision was created to transform Bell's into a hub of community enterprise: to create spaces for fresh entrepreneurs to build their businesses and revitalise a rotting building for the benefit of the community.

It would have been one of the first in our region. It's a common practice for communities to take ownership over vacant land - but this was an innovation of its time.

Although the original ambition was not realised for reasons which have been lost with time, the concept has remained.

The former Bell's Mill is now fully occupied. Thirteen units, bustling with different ideas and fresh perspectives, mean that Buccleuch Mill is now among the highest concentration of employment in Langholm.

As the first formal tenant of the building, we are often the port of call for enquiries and have facilitated many of the businesses that have moved in. We were also responsible for the administration of a new enterprise that relocated from Yorkshire to Langholm.

Many of the businesses centre around textile, such as Drove Weaving, Glen Isla, Yarns to Yearn For and Elliot's Shed. However there also fresh businesses, run by young people, such as Dr. Grow composting and gardening supplies.

The headlines aren't always correct. Langholm may be facing some tough times - EWM relocating, and the closure of Graham's as examples - but it is important to remember that good things are happening all the time.

Somebody has to bang the drum for fresh industry in Langholm. That's why we want to show you what's happening at Buccleuch Mill. You can book a tour around the complex here on 22nd August 2018.

Let's hope that by demonstrating the success of Buccleuch Mill, we can all become a little more inspired and proud of our enterprising community.

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