altHawick is a town in the Scottish Borders, which is home to around 15,000 inhabitants. It has a rich history of cross-border warfare, as well as commerce (the first stocking frames were introduced to the town in 1771, and it’s been famous for its knitwear ever since.) Recently, however, it’s been in the local headlines for an entirely different reason, as the former community bingo hall in North Bridge Street is due to be turned into a function suite. The Bridge Bingo Club (which was operated by Borders Bingo) closed down over a year ago, and when the local Weensland Function Suite shut its doors shortly after, a local businesswoman, Michelle Walsh, and her mum stepped in to apply to convert the premises into a new function facility.

Michelle’s mother, Eileen, holds the personal licence for the property, and says that since the bingo hall shut down, they’ve been trying to let the building, but despite a lot of interest, nothing came to fruition. She didn’t want to leave the site empty, and so she jointly decided with her daughter to convert it into what will be the new Bridge Function Rooms. The site licence has now been transferred from Eileen to Michelle, and the Council’s Licensing Board have also approved longer hours during which alcohol may be served.

It is hoped that the new function room will open its doors early in 2013, and it will be available to hire for conferences, meetings, dances, parties, wedding receptions, and a variety of other events. The bar has been moved upstairs, along with the function suite, where there’s seating for 300 people, and space for live bands and performances. Mrs. Walsh says that they have no immediate plans for the downstairs area, but they hope that the new facility will be well received.

The owner of the near-by Base Niteklub, which is situated in Baker Street, Hawick, expressed his concerns about the risk of over-provision in the area. Neil Gillies wrote a letter of objection to the local council, stating that the demise of the Weensland Function Suite highlights the fact that “existing business is very poor,” and the room hire “trade is in severe decline.” Despite his objections, the council unanimously approved the Walsh’s application for a change of use of the former bingo hall, with a local councillor adding that neither the police nor environmental health had any concerns.