THE multi-million pound project to bring the Chambers Institution into the 21st Century is gathering steam.

And next Monday (March 18) there will be a further public drop in consultation in Peebles Burgh Hall, from 4pm to 7pm.

In addition a concertina artwork of Peebles, by Susan Mitchell, loaned to the institution will be on display.

William Chambers, the dictionary publisher who passed away in 1883, gifted the Chambers Institution to Peeblesshire in 1859.

A project started in 2015/16 to improve the building and bring it into the 21st century, and in 2019/20 Glasgow architects Page/Park developed draft sketches and floor plans.

In 2021/22 Scottish Borders Council, the Chambers Institution Trust (CIT) and Live Borders prepared a capital funding bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund and that money was promised last year.

Ahead of Monday’s event, Tweeddale East councillor Robin Tatler spoke to the Peeblesshire News about the planned work for the first phase of the project.

Mr Tatler said: “The first phase, with £4.4 million from the UK Government Levelling Up Fund has to be committed by March 2026.

“We have to appoint a design team.

“The work in this phase includes a new entrance off the High Street; a reception area; children’s library; children-focused museum displays; a Bookbug activity space; lift access to all floors; a new link corridor to the Registrar’s office, Burgh Chambers, marriage room and Burgh Hall; and new fire exits.”

“We are also looking at the wider project which is in the second phase.

“We envisage that this is where the consultation comes into place.

“Walking onto the first floor you have a museum and library as now but it will be state of the art.

“The John Buchan museum will be moved from its current location and there are opportunities to expand it.

“On the second floor the art gallery will be improved which can take loans and collections and there is a void which could be floored.

“Also in phase two, with the Burgh Hall back to what it was originally, perhaps controversially, we are thinking about a mezzanine level.

“On its bottom level it may have catering, offices and meeting spaces, on the top level would be a stunning performance space, with views out to the hills and river.

“It is a much smaller height wise space so the acoustics would be fine.

“There is also the possibility of an extension to the Burgh Hall at the back.”

Mr Tatler also spoke about the possibility of having a building as a museum collection store.

Plus there could be behind-the-scenes tours and masterclasses.

There will be no changes to the current courtyard which will remain as a contemplation space with the war memorial.

Mr Tatler added: “In order to do this second phase we will have to raise money and have a professional fundraiser on board.

“Some of phase two may take place concurrently with phase one, with things starting perhaps in 2025.

“We are also ensuring all current tenants are involved in the process.

“The really important thing is that people come and give us their views on what they think should be included.”