Opinion split over new gates at Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park

Councillor Clair Ramage at the gates to Hawick's Wilton Lodge Park.
Councillor Clair Ramage at the gates to Hawick's Wilton Lodge Park.

The restoration of Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park is now finally complete after five years’ work and an outlay of £3.64m.

The installation of replacement gates at the entrance to the facility marks the end of the impressive revamp.

Wilton Lodge Park's restored fountain in Hawick.

Wilton Lodge Park's restored fountain in Hawick.

The park is now generally agreed to have been returned to its Victorian splendour, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Borders Council.

The transformation has included a new cafe and the Bill McLaren Bridge, a revamped bandstand hosting musical events every week during the summer, a modernised playpark, a new walled garden and the refurbishments of many of the park’s memorials.

It was awarded Green Flag status this summer, the first park in the Borders to attain that honour.

The works have generally been received with a warm welcome by townsfolk.

However, you can’t please all the people all the time, and opinion is divided over the merits or otherwise of the new gates installed at the entrance to the park.

Views echo those expressed when the £40,000 restoration of the park’s Gilbert Davidson fountain was unveiled last week.

Critics were angry over the decision to return the fountain to its original colours of blue and gold from silver.

One observer even compared the architectural gem to something from a Walt Disney theme park.

There has been a similar response to the work on the entrance gates, with members of the public either loving or loathing it.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson is very much of the former opinion.

He said: “I was up for a walk around the park this week and I had several folk saying that the new gates, along with the new-look fountain, look absolutely fantastic.

“One member of the public said it was like the icing on the cake.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage is less enthusiastic, describing the new-look gates as “fairly uninspiring”, especially in comparison to the more ornate original design.

She said: “There have been some negative comments about the Wilton Lodge Park gates.

“The design is more simple than the original and is therefore fairly uninspiring.

“I have noticed that the job is still to be completed as there were more connections to the pillars on the original gates.

“No doubt there will be split opinion on the gates, as there was with the colourful fountain.”

On various social media sites, questions have also been asked over whether the gates are sagging.

Drew Dickson posted: “I’m not really impressed.

“The double ones appear to be sagging in the middle.

“In my opinion, the old ones had more character.”

Edward Beattie added: “They’re definitely sagging. If not, they are badly made.

“These look like cheap replacements. Where did the old ones go – for scrap?

Stephen David Foster asked: “Where are the missing stones? Surely these are not finished yet?”

Lee Irvine was more emphatic, merely posting: “Take them down!”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “Work to the park’s entrance gates and piers and the Gilbert Davidson fountain refurbishment were the final projects of the £3.4m Wilton Lodge Park regeneration scheme.

“Due to being in poorer condition than first evaluated, the piers had to be taken down completely, with a structural engineer required to help design a solution to support the new gates.

“The central sheet post was installed to take the load off the stone piers before they were rebuilt.”