The oldest part of town is aptly home to the flagship Heart of Hawick development.
It comprises the Heritage Hub, repository of ancient documents and records from the Borders, and a superb visitor centre that incorporates a bistro cafe, tourist information desk, a cinema and theatre.
It is also a popular choice for travelling exhibitions, as is the square outside for concerts, street theatre and local gatherings.
Formerly Elliott’s textile mill, the cafe features a glass floor through which visitors can view the original water wheel that once powered the machinery.
In these environmentally conscious times the wheel has been the subject of a study to see if it could be brought back to life provide power for the building.
Beautifully restored, many of the original mill features have been designed into the new facilities – but one aspect of its industrial past was not planned for.
Several people have reported seeing and sensing something paranormal on the top floor of the old mill – a presence confirmed by a local psychic and backed up by research that found that a local girl had died in an industrial accident there in the 1800’s.
At the neighbouring Heritage Hub, delving into the past attracts enquiries and visitors from all over the world. The electronic highway is particularly hot these days as more and more people piece together their family tree.
Travelling back in time has become something of a global obsession in recent years.
We are referring, of course, to the tens of thousands of people who have become descendant detectives hot on the trail for clues to piece together a family tree.
It’s a journey made easier of late thanks to the internet which has flung open doors to vast stores of information. And the electronic highway is particularly hot these days at the Heritage Hub in Hawick, a centre that acts as the guardian for Borders’ archives on just about everything you would want to know about the region’s past.
It holds all census records from 1841 (the first for which records survive) to 1901 for the four Border counties and, going further back, old parish records of christenings, marriages and burials.
The building is part of the admirable Heart of Hawick site, an award winning development built with the help of Heritage Lottery and European funding, and, appropriately, based in the oldest part of the town.
The Hub’s archive paints a fascinating and historical picture of life as it was in the Borders. Records of businesses and merchants, legal records, maps, school records, poor laws and police records sit alongside more ancient collections, much of which is stored in temperature controlled chambers.
Conservative estimates say that for every Scot resident in Scotland there are five more living abroad, an indication of the mass emigration that took place over the past 200 years or so.
Many booked a one-way passage to the brave new world that was the USA; young men like John ‘Black Jack’ Elliot, the son of William and Barbara (nee Scott) Elliot. Among the possessions he packed and took with him was a photograph album containing images of his family and cherished memories of the Border country he would never see again.
Some time ago the album came home.
It was in the possession of John’s great grandson, Bob Harris, a retired English and drama teacher now living in Rochester, New York State who was at the first stage of researching his family’s history.
He was directed to the Heritage Hub, that, wouldn’t you just know it, now occupies the site where Aitken’s photographic studio once stood. “When I inherited the photographic album I wanted to know more about the family and my Scottish roots and the Hub was a terrific source of help,” said Bob.