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"Southfield House"

 

 

Southfield House was builts sometime after 1856 for James Curle Robson, a Solicitor and procurator Fiscal on an area of ground on the west side of Station Road extending to exactly one acre. This fine Victorian Mansion with its pillared portico was at the time regarded as one of the most desirable residences in Duns.

James Curle Robson died in 1878 and the property passed to his eldest son, James Frier Robson who, shortly after the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, (he was residing in Portobello Edinburgh at the time) made the property available for use as a Convalescent Home for wounded soldiers and the following year the property was sold to Frances Stewart Hay of Duns Castle for a consideration of 1070.

It would appear that there were 28 beds in the hospital and it is recorded that in all there were no fewer than 743 patients. The matron was a Miss Clark.

At the end of the War the property was gifted  by Frances Stewart Hay to the then County Council of Berwickshire for use as a hostel for girls attending Berwickshire High School There was a condition to the gift namely that should the property cease to be used for educational purposes it would revert to the donor or her family.

Berwickshire High School then, as now, served most of the county of Berwick and girls travelling to school from outlying areas had little option but to travel by cycle, horse or train (a service which probably ran only three times per day) see - Berwickshire Railway. Accordingly most required either to stay in 'digs' in the Town or in the hostel.

For the experiences of some of the pupils click Here (two pages).

With the outbreak of the Second World War the house was not again required for hospital purposes but used as the Headquarters for the Education Department and the ARP Officer for Berwickshire. After the War the building continued to be used by the Education Department  and also the Departments of Roads and Planning.

In 1977 after the Education and Roads and Planning Departments had moved out and after extensive refurbishment costing 5000 the property was re-opened as a Community Centre which use it retains to this day having successfully withstood at least a couple of attempts at closure. For the moment at least its future as a Community Centre looks secure and quite a number of local organizations and groups are able to enjoy the facilities which it affords for meetings, exhibitions, learning groups etc.

Most of the above information was taken, with consent, from a history of the house prepared by the current caretaker John Gray to whom we are greatly obliged.