A FUNDING bid could prove to be “game-changing” for the continued redevelopment of an iconic Peeblesshire site, according to an MP.

The old steading building at the centuries-old Crook Inn, on the A701, was recently transformed into a café and bistro thanks to the efforts of the Tweedsmuir Community Company (TCC).

Conservative MP David Mundell – who represents the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale area – visited the ‘Wee Crook’ this week to discuss ambitious plans for further development of the community-owned site.

And Mr Mundell voiced support for the group’s plans to bid for cash in the next round of the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

He said: “The Crook Inn has been an iconic building, with a lot of potential, known by generations locally and regular users of the road.

“Many, like myself, were sad to see the building fall into disrepair but relieved when the community-driven buy-out provided a route to keep it available for public use, possibly providing employment.

“I fully support the Crook Inn application for UK Levelling Up funding and I’m ready to work with Scottish Borders Council and Destination Tweed in putting forward what is a strong case.”

The fund is designed to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK.

Although not yet fully operational, the carefully converted Tweeddale building is currently available for community events, with Rhubarbfest held there on the Platinum Jubilee weekend.

The next phase of plans includes building a 16-bed bunkhouse and associated facilities, which would, in addition, serve guest accommodation pods proposed for the grounds.

The final phase, much further in the future, would be a sympathetic redevelopment of the main Crook Inn building, which has been made wind and watertight, and retains distinctive Art Deco roadhouse design windows – a feature from a 1930s makeover.

Mr Mundell paid tribute to the TCC board members and other volunteers involved in the ambitious projects, including work on the grounds and gardens, some located on the other side of the A701, a designated tourist route to Edinburgh.

The MP described the work so far as “impressive” and welcomed the fact that some match funding was already in place for the next phase, which he said was important when seeking Levelling Up and other support.

The Crook Inn, which was licensed in 1604 and is one of Scotland’s oldest pubs, closed in 2006 after more than 400 years of continuous operation.

It was frequented by such notable figures as national bard Robert Burns and John Buchan, author and later Governor-General of Canada.