A husband and wife’s labour of love came to fruition last week when they opened a new nursery in what had been an empty Victorian building.
Mel and David Scrimgeour, from Eskbank, worked on Newbyres Hall in Gorebridge for nearly two years. The former church and masonic hall, built by the Dundas family in 1868, is now home to Newbyres Nursery, partly thanks to a grant of £120,000 from the Gorebridge Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (Cars).
Mel, 38, a former community speech and language therapist at Newbyres Medical Practice, is now the manager at Newbyres Nursery.
She said: “We were interested in finding a building around Gorebridge to covert into a nursery.
“We are a husband and wife team that do property renovations, but we had not taken on anything like this before.
“Then, in October 2014, we heard about Newbyres Hall from Rod Lugg at Gorebridge Cars. He said it had been lying empty for years. It had fallen into disrepair, it was basically derelict.
“He told us there was a grant available from the Cars project for exterior work to bring the hall back to how it looked in Victorian times, based on photographs that they found.
“It’s really been a labour of love. It has taken longer than anticipated, but that’s because we are just a husband and wife team, it’s just really been the two of us. ”
Mel praised the Cars scheme: “I wanted my nursery and this was the perfect opportunity in the middle of the village. The grant for the exterior made us go for this.
“The Gorebridge Community Development Trust [which runs the scheme] have just been absolutely amazing, so supportive. We are lucky to have people like that in the community.
“Obviously we had the interior to do as well which cost a lot more money, but it’s looking incredible now. We have got a big outdoor area to the back, too, as we bought some of the car park from the council.
“People are saying it’s great and that it has changed the whole centre of the village.”
Mel believes a private nursery was needed in Gorebridge.
She said: “I have always had the idea of opening a nursery. There is nothing else in the area at all – no private nurseries in Gorebridge. It was so needed.
“We currently have nine members of staff, [and] we will be adding to that. It could go up to 25. So it’s providing employment for Gorebridge as well. I get inquiries every day from people wanting jobs, as well as nursery placements.
“There are so many advantages to having the private nursery here. It could be a very positive thing for Gorebridge and the surrounding area, allowing people to go back to work and have quality child care.”