The Cauld at Liddesdale, Hawick was constructed to regulate the flow of the River Slitrig and also to divert water from the River Slitrig into a mill lade which served several mills in Slitrig Crescent and the Liddesdale area in the town. The private housing development currently situated at Liddesdale Crescent is built on land that was originally owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. During the 19th Century the land was occupied by Linnwood Mill. In 1931 the land was sold by the Duke of Buccleuch to Hawick Town Council to allow the construction of council housing. The sale of the Cauld was not included with the sale of the land and is still currently owned by the Duke of Buccleuch's successors, Buccleuch Estates Ltd. The responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the Cauld was however transferred to Hawick Town Council when the land was purchased. The relevant section in the Title Deed states:-

“My said disponees and their foresaids being bound to make their own arrangements with the tenants or occupiers for vacant possession, and also to free and relieve me and my heirs and successors of and from all and any questions which may hereafter arise regarding the maintenance of the Cauld across the Slitrig Water, shown on the said Plan.”



Copy of original Title Deeds

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During 1988 the River Tweed Commissioners requested permission from Roxburgh District Council, the successors to Hawick Town Council, to form a 'cut and board' arrangement in the sill of the Cauld in order to allow easier passage of salmon returning to spawning grounds. A report dated 24 August, 1988 was produced by Mr. W.R. Millan, the then Director of Administrative and Legal Services, entitled, "CAULDS - RIVER TWEED COMMISSIONERS - GENERAL POSITION." This report states the following:-

"The District Council had taken the view that a full technical assessment of the position would be required bearing in mind conflicting opinions on whether or not the passage of fish was affected by the existing system and the fact that the whole pattern of the regime of rivers could be altered by the breaching of Caulds including the possibility of flooding in certain areas."

The Report also contains the following passage:-

“The commissioners have no engineering data in relation to the effects of breaching of Caulds but have indicated that their current policy usually involves a shallow “cut and board” arrangements in a Cauld's sill thus providing a channel of water of sufficient depth for a fish to ascend the Cauld in moderate water flows. It was indicated on behalf of the Commissioners that this type of cut was not the same type of breach which had been carried out by the Tweed Commissioners in previous years and which had given rise to adverse public comment.

It was indicated on behalf of the District Council that statistical and full supporting information to back up the Commissioners' viewpoint was required and it is recommended that the general position be considered further once this information has been provided by them.”



Copy of Report by Mr. W.R. Millan

Minutes of a Roxburgh District Council Technical Services Committee meeting, held on 29 August, 1988 confirms that the Council had undertaken,

".....further detailed investigations and searches in relation to ownership of the Cauld had established that, in 1931 as part of the acquisition of land at Lynnwood, the former Hawick Town Council had agreed to free and relieve the then Duke of Buccleuch of the question of maintenance of the Cauld in all time coming and, therefore, as statutory successors, the District Council had a responsibility in respect of the Cauld in addition to an interest in the amenity of the area."



Minutes of Roxburgh District Council meetings during 1988 and 1989

Minutes of a Roxburgh District Council Technical Services Committee meeting, held on 29 May, 1989 confirms that,

"It was understood that the River Tweed Commissioners would meet the costs of any technical plans and recommendations for breaching of Caulds but that the cost of the actual work would fall to be paid by the District Council as a result of the historic obligation which had arisen as a result of the District Council's position as Housing Authority in view of the adjacent housing estate."

Minutes of a Roxburgh District Council Technical Services Committee meeting, held on 5 June, 1989 confirms that,

"Solicitors acting for Buccleuch Estates Limited had confirmed that the Estates, as owners of the Cauld, had no objection to the formation of a channel through it provided they were kept free from expence in the matter and on the basis of the District Council's continuing obligation to deal with matters in relation to repair and maintenance, and, in addition, the Director of Roads and Transportation, Borders Regional Council had confirmed that there would be no adverse effect on the road or bridge nearby in the event of such a breach."

Minutes of a Roxburgh District Council Housing Committee meeting, held on 4 September, 1989 confirms that,

"In connection with the paragraph in the foregoing Minutes relative to Slitrig Cauld, Hawick (pp.68/69), it was noted that, following a site meeting with representatives of the River Tweed Commissioners, Members were now satisfied that proposed works were necessary to ensure the safe passage of fish upstream in the River Slitrig and, after discussion, it was agreed that works be carried out as soon as possible in accordance with the recommendations of the Commissioners."

The Cauld was breached shortly after this meeting during November, 1989.


Article in Hawick News dated 1989



During November, 2005 the Liddesdale area experienced extremely heavy rainfall which resulted in a 1 in 50 year flood. The River Slitrig came within 500-600mm of flooding Liddesdale Crescent, Hawick. After the flood waters receded  the River Slitrig had noticeably altered course in the stretch of river immediately downstream from the Cauld and major erosion of embankments had occurred on both sides of the river. Since the major flood in 2005 the embankments to several properties in Liddesdale Crescent, Hawick have continued to erode at an alarming rate during periods of high flood water.

An initial meeting was arranged on 7 October, 2010. Representatives from SEPA and Scottish National Heritage attended the meeting together with Ron Smith, a local Hawick Councillor and residents of Liddesdale Crescent. Invitations were sent to Scottish Borders Council and the River Tweed Commissioners but both organisations declined the invitation stating that the embankments erosion and poor condition of the Cauld was not their concern.



Minutes of initial meeting at Liddesdale Crescent, Hawick


It is perfectly clear from the title deed in 1931 that the responsibility for the maintenance of the Cauld was transferred to the Council of the day when the land was sold by the then Duke of Buccleuch to Hawick Town Council. Unfortunately, this is not the view shared by the Council. The council was first contacted regarding the poor state of the Cauld on 4th November, 2010. The Council was asked if, due to the historic obligation to maintain the Cauld, they would accept responsibility for the Cauld. The Council and the River Tweed Commissioners were also invited to attend a meeting with the affected house owners so that they may explain their actions and to let them see the damage to the river embankments. The Council and River Tweed Commissioners refused to talk to the affected house owners. 



Initial correspondence issued to Scottish Borders Council on 4th November, 2010



Initial correspondence issued to the River Teed Commissioners on 4th November, 2010



Initial reply from Scottish Borders Council on 12th November, 2010


Initial reply from the River Teed Commissioners on 12th November, 2010



Correspondence to Scottish Borders Council on 27th January, 2011



Correspondence from Scottish Borders Council on 3rd & 9th February, 2011


During the summer months of 2011 the residents submitted an application to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to construct embankment protection works. Unfortunately, due to SEPA red tape, rules and procedures, the Licence was not granted until 25th August, 2011. This did not allow sufficient time to carry out the necessary protection works before the end of September, 2011. SEPA confirmed that it would be acceptable to move the start date forward to a suitable start date in 2012.


Plan showing location of proposed embankment protection works


SEPA had been informed of the extremely poor condition of the Cauld during October, 2010. When SEPA was asked if they had any powers to force those responsible for the Cauld to carry out repairs their responce was,

"With reference to the Cauld and it's condition, this has no relevance to the proposed licence determination and therefore SEPA has no further comments to make on this issue."

Early in October, 2011, the residents decided to publish the story in the Hawick News and the following articles appeared in the Hawick News during October, 2011:-



Articles in Hawick News during October, 2011


Article by local councillor Davie Paterson in Hawick News on 28th October, 2011


John Lamont MSP, who had been contacted earlier in 2011, wrote to Tracey Logan, the newly appointed Chief Executive of Scottish Borders Council. The reply from Tracey Logan contained the following paragraph:-

"In addition the Council does not consider it has any legal responsibility in respect of the cauld other than to indemnify Buccleuch Estates Ltd for any works they are requested to do. Buccleuch Estates confirmed on the 18 April 2011 that they do not own either the cauld or the land on which the cauld stands."


Correspondence from Scottish Borders Council on 8th November, 2011


This statement is factually inaccurate and misleading. The correspondence that Tracey Logan refers to, is a letter that Strathern & Blair, W.S. issued to Buccleuch Estates Ltd on 17th May, 1989. This correspondence makes no direct reference to the Cauld. The actual wording states,

"This may give rise to an inference that the river belonged to the Duke at the time, but we confirm that The Buccleuch Estates Ltd does not have a title to the river or any land in the immediate area."


Correspondence from Strathern & Blair, W.S. on 17th May, 1989


Tracey Logan was asked by both John Lamont, MSP and Harry Turnbull (21 Liddesdale Crescent) to comment on the contents of an e-mail from Isobel Coates, Buccleuch Estates Ltd dated 3rd May, 2011 which states,

"While I fully understand that urgent attention is required, I reiterate that Buccleuch Estates Limited transferred all maintenance liability in 1931 but as owners I appreciate that we are required to push the council."


E-mail from Isobel Coates, Buccleuch Estates Limited on 3rd May, 2011



E-mail to Scottish Borders Council on 18th January, 2012



E-Mail from Rob Dickson, Scottish Borders Council on 8th February, 2012 and E-Mail reply on 8th February, 2012



E-Mail from David Green, Scottish Borders Council on 29th February, 2012 and E-Mail reply on 2nd March, 2012


E-Mail from David Green, Scottish Borders Council on 26th March, 2012


E-Mail from David Green, Scottish Borders Council to Councillor Paterson on 27th February, 2013



E-Mail to David Green, Scottish Borders Council on 5th March, 2013



Soon after the articles appeared in the Hawick News in October, 2011, Isobel Coates confirmed verbally during a telephone conversation with Dr. J. Griffin (17 Liddesdale Crescent) that Buccleuch Estates Limited did not own the Cauld. Until this point the ownership of the Cauld had never been in doubt. Harry Turnbull and Dr. Griffin immediately dispatched several e-mails to Isobel Coates and to the Duke of Buccleuch.



E-mails to Buccleuch Estates Limited


On the 14th November, 2011, Buccleuch Estates Limited, as owners of the Cauld, finally wrote to Scottish Borders Council with the following instruction:-

"As mentioned above, if you are in agreement with the fact that this is the Council's liability then I would urgently ask that you advise me of your plans to carry out the works needed to secure the local residents' properties."


Correspondence from Buccleuch Estates Limited to Scottish Borders Council on 14th November, 2011


A meeting was held at the Cauld on the 11th April, 2012. The meeting was chaired by Councillor Davie Paterson. Scottish Borders Council was represented by Mr. David Green and Mr. Duncan Morrison. Buccleuch Estates Ltd was represented by Mr. Andrew Brough. Several residents also attended the meeting. During the meeting Mr. Brough verbally confirmed that the Cauld is owned by Buccleuch Estates Ltd. Mr. Brough also verbally instructed Scottish Borders Council to carry out the necessary repairs to the Cauld. Mr. Green confirmed that a response would be sent to Buccleuch Estates within 7 days from the date of the meeting. The residents asked Mr. Brough to issue a written instruction to repair the Cauld to Scottish Borders Council. Mr. Brough agreed to do this. Mr. Green and Mr. Brough were asked by the residents to copy all future correspondence between Buccleuch Estates and Scottish Borders Council to the residents.


E-Mail to Andrew Brough, Buccleuch Estates Limited on 12th April, 2012


Correspondence from Andrew Brough, Buccleuch Estates to David Green, Scottish Borders Council on 19th April, 2012



Reply from David Green, Scottish Borders Council to Andrew Brough, Buccleuch Estates on 26th April, 2012


A year after initial contact was made with the River Teed Commissioners, Harry Turnbull wrote to this organisation again and demanded to see the engineering data, technical drawings and recommendations that Roxburgh District Council had requested from the River Tweed Commissioners during 1989. The replies that were received from the River Tweed Commissioners are wholly unsatisfactory and it would appear entirely reasonable to conclude that no specialist advice or report was ever produced prior to the breaching of the Cauld. The decision to breach the Cauld was therefore taken by unqualified representatives from the River Tweed Commissioners and local town Councillors. Quite disgraceful.



Correspondence to the River Tweed Commissioners on 28th October, 2011


Correspondence from the River Tweed Commissioners on 6th December, 2011


Correspondence to the River Tweed Commissioners on 20th December, 2011


Correspondence from the River Tweed Commissioners on 10th January, 2012


During 2011 the residents commissioned Prof. Trevor Hoey, a leading hydrogeomorphologist, to survey the Cauld and stretches of river in close proximity of the Cauld. This is the full report:-





Report from Prof. Trevor Hoey


Future management options for the Cauld.

A.      Removal: This is not favoured, as it would lead to a significant increase in river gradient, accelerated sediment transport and bed erosion and would be very likely to lead to a phase of further bank erosion. The river would reach a new equilibrium, but this may take some time and could involve the loss of significant areas from the gardens of houses in Liddesdale Crescent.

B.     No intervention: the ongoing erosion of concrete and rock from the cauld is problematic, with the eroded blocks contributing significantly to further bank erosion downstream. The future pattern of erosion is difficult to predict, and further bank erosion is likely to cause renewed partial blockage of the river as trees would be likely to be eroded. This may prevent the approved bank protection works from operating effictively, and would require further maintenance such as removal of any trees that blocked the river.

C.     Repair the cauld structure: erosion has mainly taken place along the flanks of the uppermost weir, especially on the left bank side where there is no protection. Artificial protection, in the form of gabion baskets, is used successfully on the right bank to protect the road. Gabion baskets could be emplaced on the left bank side, along the approximate line of of the concrete ramp on the cauld, and the ramp and large boulders removed from the river bed. Behind the baskets could be back-filled using the removed large boulders and any displaced pieces of concrete from the ramp, supplemented if necessary by imported material. The gabion basket 'wall' would require anchoring at both ends against the existing river bank to eliminate the possibility of scour behind the wall leading to it being undermined and eroded. In time, this area would vegetate and some vegetation may establish on the gabion baskets themselves, so reducing their visual impact.


The Trevor Hoey report was submitted to the Council on 5th April, 2012 and following further discussions between the Council and local residents at a meeting held at the Cauld on 11th April, 2012, the Council conceded that as the condition of the Cauld was highlighted in the Hoey report as the main contributing factor to cause of embankment erosion, the Council decided to engage the services of Halcrow, Consulting Engineers to provide a second opinion on the Cauld at a cost of approximately £18,000. The Halcrow report which was meant to be completed by September, 2012 was not submitted to the Council until early November, 2012 and was not passed to the residents until 20th December, 2012. The main sections of the Halcrow report have been uploaded to this page in PDF format and may be read using the following links using Adobe Acrobat Reader:-

Halcrow Report Section 1 - Executive Summary

Halcrow Report Section 2 - Introduction

Halcrow Report Section 3 - The Slitrig Water

Halcrow Report Section 4a - Detailed Geomorphological Assessment

Halcrow Report Section 4b - Detailed Geomorphological Assessment

Halcrow Report Section 4c - Detailed Geomorphological Assessment

Halcrow Report Section 5 - Flood Risk Assessment, References & Cross Sections

Halcrow Report Section 6 - Cross Sections & Stream Power Analysis

Halcrow Report - Photos 1

Halcrow Report - Photos 2

Halcrow Report - Photos 3

Halcrow Report - Photos 4

Halcrow Report - Photos 5

Report from Halcrow, Consulting Engineers


Special extracts from the Halcrow report require close examination.

1.      Under Answer 1) in the Executive Summery of the report, Halcrow states, "The observed erosion and deposition processes at various locations adjacent to Liddesdale Crescent cannot be solely attributed to the breach of the Slitrig Cauld in 1989." The residents would argue that this statement is misleading and incorrect when the full contents of the report is taken into account. The Halcrow report also tries to imply that one of the reasons why the erosion started was the removal of vegetation between the channel and the housing. This statement is also misleading and factually incorrect. Plants, shrubs and small trees were growing on the sloping embankment at 21/23 Liddesdale Crescent prior to the major flood event in 2005. Whist the Cauld was intact and regulated the flow in this stretch of river the Slitrig has continued to flow in the same channel for over 150 years. Since the Cauld was breached the river has meandered 20m southwards in under 8 years. Over the lifetime of the river this degree of displacement is simply astounding.

2.      Under section 4.8.1 entitled, "Initiation of erosion of the left bank (a)" the report states, "From the historical mapping it would appear that a small vegetated bar has been present on the right bank side for some time, but that during the 1990s a mid channel bar was deposited near this location (figure 4.2). During the 2005 flood, large volumes of sediment throughout the Slitrig catchment were mobilised (Appendix A1) and some of this sediment was transported downstream and over the weir. This sediment was deposited along the right bank (in area of reduced energy), increasing this size of this bar and joining it to the mid channel bar. This larger bar deflected and continues to deflect flows to the left bank (a), initiating/reinforcing the erosion, and reducing the energy further on the right bank side of the channel, encouraging deposition here of sediment mobilised in subsequent flood events and the formation of a now vegetated point bar."

This section of the Halcrow report also states, "It is also likely that the wall along the left bank of the weir focuses flows towards the left bank when the full width of the weir is in use (Appendix A6, Photgraph 20). The 2006 mapping shows two small embayments that could have been formed by this process. Further flow events where the full width of the Cauld was utilised would have continued this process. It seams likely that it is a combination of the bar formation and flows over the weir that have started the erosion of the left bank side. It is also likely that since the bankside vegetation has been removed (through erosion) that the speed of bank erosion will have increased." The first sentence in this extract is incorrect and should read, "It is also likely that the wall along the right bank of the weir focuses flows towards the left bank when the full width of the weir is in use (Appendix A6, Photograph 20)."

This section of the Halcrow report also states, "It is possible that boulders in channel (assumed to be debris from the Cauld) could in part be responsible for deflecting flows towards the left bank (Appedix A6, Photograph 33). It is unknown how long these boulders have been in the channel, and if they were transported to their current location during the 2005 flood event or during a previous event. These boulders have the potential to have changed the thalweg, deflecting flows towards the left bank. However, it seems unlikely that these boulders alone are responsible for the erosion of the left bank at (a)."

3.      Under section 4.8.2 entitled, "Deposition and erosion of the right bank (b and c)" the report states, "The erosion of the left bank at (a) (Figure 4.11) has increased the volume of sediment locally in the channel. It appears that the channel does not have energy to transport this material far so deposits it at (b). Two mid channel bars have formed here in the 1990s."

This section of the Halcrow report also states, "Since 2005 these bars have stabilised and merged and continued to grow, narrowing the channel and deflecting flows and eroding the right bank (c) (Appendix A6, Photographs 43 and 45)."

4.      Under section 4.8.2 entitled, "Summary" the report states, "It is evident from the analysis that the Cauld breaching is one of a number of factors which would have contributed to the initial deposition that occurred in the 1990s, which is ultimately responsible for the erosion issues observed at present."

5.      Under section 4.9 entitled, "Potential impacts of the cauld breaching" the report states, "Upstream bed lowering and bank instability may occur as the breaching lowers the bed level of the cauld and the channel upstream adjusts through incision. This does not appear to have occurred as there are no signs of large scale changes in bed level noted nor widespread bank instability."

This section of the Halcrow report also states, "Bed lowering upstream of the Cauld may occur, releasing sediment stored from behing the Cauld. This sediment may then be transported over the Cauld and deposited downstream. However in this case the upstream bed does not seem to have undergone adjustment. Sediment may have been mobilised from directly behing the lowered section of Cauld, and this could have created the initial phase of deposition downstream on the right bank side."

This section of the Halcrow report also states, "Change in flow direction through the notching will have focused the flow to the centre of the channel during average and low flows. This has the potential to increase scour of the lower steps of the Cauld."

It is clear from the report that all the mid channel bars that were created in the river occurred during the 1990s, the decade immediately after the breaching of the Cauld, and that the sediment to create the mid channel bars initially came from scoured material located directly below the Cauld. Both reports agree that there is no evidence to suggest that this material came from the stretch of river immediately upstream of the Cauld. The boulders, slabs of concrete and sandstone blocks that had the potential of deflecting flows towards the left bank at (a) also originated from the breached Cauld.

An e-mail response to the Halcrow report was issued by the residents to Scottish Borders Council on 5th March, 2013 (see e-mail listed under Scottish Borders Council) to acknowledge acceptance of the recommendations listed under section 4.11 of the report entitled, "Recommendations" regarding Cauld maintenance, erosion protection and erosion reduction. The residents however made it perfectly clear that they still had major concerns regarding work which is not going to be undertaken. No work will be undertaken on the breached section of the Cauld to the reduce the energy generated by the river passing through the Cauld during a flood event despite a clear letter of instruction from Buccleuch Estates Ltd to reinstate the Cauld. No work is to be undertaken on the eroding left bank at (a) despite the Halcrow report stating that this bank will continue to erode and deposit sediment on the left bar opposite 21/23 Liddesdale Crescent at (b). No work is to undertaken to re-align the gabion wall at the Cauld despite the Halcrow report stating that this wall focuses flows towards the left bank when the full width of the weir is in use.



The meeting was held at 23 Liddesdale Crescent, Hawick at the request of David Green to discuss the findings of both reports. At the very start of the meeting David Green stated that funding had been put in place by the Council to carry out the necessary repairs to the damaged embankments and that the Council had instructed Halcrow to proceed with an application to S.E.P.A. to obtain the necessary C.A.R. Licence. Unfortunately during a follow up meeting with David Green and Steven Vint at 25 Liddesdale Crescent, Hawick on 20th June, 2013 it was confirmed by Steven Vint that due to further information requested by S.E.P.A. it would not be possible to the C.A.R. License in place and the repairs to the embankments carried out before the end of September, 2013. It was however agreed by everyone present at the meeting that Halcrow would endeavour to have the C.A.R. Licence granted by the end of 2013 and that a contractor would be appointed and ready to commence with repairs to the embankments during the spring of 2014.







Emankment erosion of left bank



Meandering river and embankment erosion of right bank at 21 Liddesdale Crescent, Hawick



It only takes one small boulder to start the process of erosion









Liddesdale Cauld, Hawick






Embankment repairs commenced during June, 2015



The residents would like to thank Councillor Davie Paterson and John Lamont, MSP for all the time and effort they have spent trying to resolve this problem with the Council. Councillor Paterson has been a tremendous help and we would not know any of the history behind Liddesdale Cauld without his assistance.



The residents would like to thank the Hawick News for allowing their articles to be published on this web page.



The content of this page,, is written by me, Harry Turnbull, entirely without prejudice to my whole rights and pleas and may be founded upon in any legal proceedings raised against me only at my instance. As such, nothing in this page is to be construed as an admission by me of any kind.