Craig Finlay Memorial Competition - A town centre to be proud of

Penicuik town centre.
Penicuik town centre.

An atmosphere of optimism has begun to enthuse the Penicuik Community as exciting plans for the regeneration of the historic town centre gather steam.

The degenerating condition of the town centre, particularly the High Street and precinct areas have led to businesses facing often insurmountable challenges.

Penicuik’s resemblance to a ‘ghost-town’ has become a joke among the locals and may be a deterring factor influencing the return of visitors.

However, what has, on the surface, appeared to be a dying community has in fact many exciting initiatives running within the town, led by an enthusiastic group of individuals. These include: the restoration of the enchanting ‘Lost Garden’ on the Clerk Estate, the successful upkeep of the Penicuik Cinema, and the opening of the Storehouse, which has taken pride of place on the High Street.

These projects have taken off due to the zest of townspeople, particularly belonging to the older generation, as well as the widespread support and involvement of others from the community, including high school volunteers. In addition to these ongoing schemes, a recent development to the town’s appeal and prosperity has been the renovation of its main historical attraction – Penicuik House, belonging to the Clerk family since the mid-17th century.

After the roof and interior were tragically destroyed in a fire in 1899, the house stood abandoned and neglected until the recent decade, where works have been carried out to restore it.

Just this August, a café was opened as part of the building, allowing visitors to venture inside for the first time in over a century. What was previously a popular area for local dog-walkers is developing into an impressive attraction where passers-by can enjoy a coffee and admire the beautiful surroundings.

This change is a perfect example of what can be done to increase the appeal of Penicuik’s town centre. Our challenge is to fuse the motivation of the local community with new enterprises supported by the government in order to boost and regenerate the image of the town centre, creating one which people can be proud of.