In 1992 various groups in Lanark, in conjunction with the local council, arranged to purchase the derelict part of the Tolbooth building, and with dedicated volunteers, essential maintenance work and refurbishment was carried out. The building’s future was placed in the care of a Trust charged to prevent further deterioration and developing it as a local hub for small town groups. At this point income came mainly from the Chess Club, the Bridge Clubs and occasional other organisations hiring the two available rooms.
In 2018, The Trust Committee, with the vision of Dr Jamie Hill (chairman) and Ian Wilson Leitch (General Manager), deciding to further unlock the building’s potential for the town and community of Lanark, embarked on redesigning the downstairs part of the building and upgrading facilities including the accessible toilet and new more eco-friendly LED lighting. A new more energy efficient boiler was also been installed. Funds were raised and grants obtained to enable this.
Through the rejuvenation and ongoing refurbishment of the premises by the now Tolbooth Lanark SCIO Trustees the building has developed and evolved dramatically as a community hub, an information centre, a meeting place for local clubs and organisations, a vibrant exhibition centre for local arts and crafts groups and schools. With the help of volunteers the Tolbooth is now open to the public every day including an occasional Sunday due to increased public demand.
The following are just a few examples of usage on both levels:
• CLUBS – Chess, Bridge, Lanark OAP group, Veteran First Point.
• MEETINGS – Discover Lanark, Tolbooth Trust, Guildry AGM.
• SOCIAL EVENTS – Birthday parties, memorial service, wedding, ‘Het Pint’ on New Year’s Day.
• CLASSES/WORKSHOPS – Alexander Technique, pottery demo, wreath making, embroidery, book binding.
• DISPLAYS – ‘Whuppity Scoorie’ artwork from local Primary Schools, Lanark Grammar School Photographic work, Corra Linn Art group and various other artists and crafters.
• FUNDRAISERS – Scottish Autism, local Primary schools, Christchurch Dementia Group (Memory Lane), Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council, Lanark in Bloom.
• INFORMATION – U3A, Esteem, St. Andrew’s Hospice, MS Society, NHS Scotland CPR and demo, Visit Scotland Information Partner (no longer a Tourist Office in Lanark).
• OTHER – Control Hub for police and ambulance services on Lanimer Day, host for Lanark CTV and website.
THE TOLBOOTH IS A TOTALLY VOLUNTEER LED ORGANISATION.
• FUTURE – Upstairs replacement of lighting, flooring and redecoration. The ultimate goal is to install a lift.
Supporting StatementThe Guildry of Lanark exists to preserve the history and traditions of the Royal Burgh and are delighted to nominate the Tolbooth for a ‘Scottish Civic Trust – My Place Award’.
When the Guildry of Lanark was formed in 1658, to govern the town on behalf of the Crown, they held their meetings in the Tolbooth. The building underwent major reconstruction in 1571. It is estimated that the first building was constructed circa 1400, or a little later.
“In 1992 the Guildry was invited to nominate a Trustee for the Heritage Centre, being set up in the Tolbooth building and that the Executive Committee had nominated Past Dean Ian Veitch for this position as he along with Mr. T. H. Shanks and Mr. Leonard Gray from the Royal Burgh Community Council had been involved with this project from the start.” (Extract from the Guildry of Lanark Minute Book)
The Guildry give full support to the Tolbooth Trustees for the dedicated and hard work they have done so far.
The response from individual organisations using the venue has been very positive and has resulted in a greatly increased number of bookings. Local artists are very pleased how the new lighting enhances their work.
The Tolbooth is in a prominent position in the centre of the town where the community, passers-by and visitors to the have easy access. The volunteers provide a warm and friendly welcome.