The Heart of Hawick is now one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Scottish Borders.
According to an independent assessment commissioned by Scottish Borders Council it is second only in popularity to the stunning and beautiful Forest of Glentress, and ahead of the Teviot Smokery.
The building was once a weaving mill and, after investment of more than £10m, is one of the biggest regeneration projects in the Scottish Borders.
It includes the Borders Textile Towerhouse, Civic Space, Heritage Hub and Tower Mill with its coffee and music space, 111 seat auditorium which can be used as a cinema, theatre or conference facility and unique glass floor over the largest waterwheel in Southern Scotland.
The independent assessment figures were presented at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s Scrutiny committee earlier this month. They showed that the Heart of Hawick has attracted a total of 710,000 visitors since opening in 2007.
Each year it is attracting on average 180,000 visitors – far ahead of an early target of 72,000 people annually.
Lindsay Wood, business manager at Heart of Hawick, said: “We have had a very successful year and are thrilled. That success has been consecutive over the years and now going into our fifth trading year has exceeded all our expectations.”
Looking forward, the Heart of Hawick plans to build on its cinema programme. Films such as Sex and The City 2 and Bridesmaids have been a huge hit, and the cinema has cultivated a strong arthouse following. It is also developing a reputation for travelling exhibitions, while the square outside is a popular spot for concerts, street theatre and a monthly farmers’ market.