INNERLEITHEN is steeped in history and townsfolk are very proud of its rich heritage.

The sluice gate and lade, known as the dam, once the driving force behind the town’s industry to power the mills two centuries ago, has been restored and is flowing once again.

But the major heritage project has been a long time coming.

Repeated acts of vandalism threatened its restoration and members of the community feared the floodgates would never re-open.

Despite setbacks over the years, three men with a mission to bring the ancient sluice back to its historic glory have triumphed.

George Meikle, Allan Graham and Ross McGinn, put the wheels in motion to ignite local interest in the ‘dam’ highlighting that the town of Innerleithen was built up around it.

George told us: “We’ve been endeavouring to keep the lade running since vandalism started on it two years ago.

"The sluice gate opposite Kirklands Farm was cut away, and successive boards and stones that were put in place to try and keep water flowing down into the town and not just back into the Leithen were removed.

“Many livelihoods were from its water power with as many as twelve businesses harnessing the hydro systems at one time.

“Things move on and times change but we must be proud of and protect our heritage.”

Although its operating powers are not needed today, it is now a pleasant water feature coming down through the town bringing nature and wildlife along the way.

George’s property hosts the old sawmill waterwheel.

He added: “It was my dad’s and one day it would be great to have this turning again.

"I’ve been doing work on the wheelhouse, re-pointing the stone work in preparation. That would be fabulous for the town and the only working wheel in the Borders.

"Now Scotland’s quite a feat, but for this we need the water to keep flowing as it has done for the last 200 years.

“We are delighted that Innerleithen Community Trust secured a grant to restore the sluice exactly as it was built all those years ago using prime oak and the original mechanism salvaged from the damaged gate.

“I am sure the community and the future generations to come will appreciate the restoration of what is an important part of the town’s heritage."

The Rotary Club of Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Traquair have produced a historical video on the Mill Lade which is available to view on YouTube.

It ends with one important question. ‘Could this once valuable but deteriorating resource be resurrected in the future to provide the town with a green source of electric power? I wonder.’