Landmark Dumfries High Street project supporting jobs and encouraging enterprise

MSQ phase 1 progress

THE transformation of a once derelict blight on Dumfries High Street into homes and enterprise spaces has reached a new milestone.

Scaffolding has been removed from the front of Midsteeple Quarter’s landmark development, with work on its interior now fully underway.

Initial discussions are also taking place with organisations potentially interested in leasing the enterprise spaces being created at 135-139 High Street as part of the community-led project.

Some of Midsteeple Quarter’s volunteer directors saw the progress being made on-site this week as main contractors RH Irving Construction highlighted the multi-million pound scheme’s economic impact.

It is maximising use of Dumfries-based sub-contractors – with about three-quarters of the 45 tradespeople who have worked on the project so far based within five miles of the site.

They include joiners, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, blacksmiths, roofers and groundworkers.

RH Irving’s project, site and commercial management teams also all live within 10 miles of Dumfries – with more than 85% of all building materials and components for the project sourced through builders’ merchants and suppliers based in the town.

The firm, headquartered at Longtown in north Cumbria, works extensively throughout Dumfries and Galloway. About a third of its 100-plus staff are based in southern Scotland.

Managing Director Mark Moodycliffe said: “As a true Borderlands company with deep connections across the region, this is an exciting project for us – hopefully symbolising the beginning of a new future for Dumfries High Street. We’re pleased with how it’s progressing.

“The opportunities it has created for our locally-based staff and contractors have been fantastic. They’ve brought with them real benefits to the economy of Dumfries and wider Dumfriesshire, which we think stands testament to the ethos of what the whole Midsteeple Quarter project is striving to achieve for the community.

“Among our team have been three local apprentices, who have been gaining invaluable experience on site. While one of our colleagues, who lives in Dumfries, has taken the opportunity to be mentored towards becoming a site manager.”

Work at 135-139 High Street, which officially began last summer, is due for completion next spring (2024).

It is the first phase of a long-term vision to breathe new life into the town centre by taking neglected and under-used buildings into community ownership and revamping them into places in which people  live, work and visit.

Years of campaigning and fundraising by townsfolk has made the project possible, along with the purchase of five other properties.

Dion Corbett was one of the Midsteeple Quarter directors on-site this week, and said: “It’s great to see the progress being made and to hear about the wider benefits for jobs and the local economy that the work’s creating.

“This is all about realising our community’s ambition to take back control of our High Street and be a catalyst for positive change. We’re incredibly excited to see it taking shape and about the opportunities it is creating for people to live and work in the town centre.

“The comments we’ve heard as the scaffolding has come off have been incredibly positive.”

The work to transform and extend the former Baker’s Oven will see enterprise space at ground level and part of the first floor, as well as seven flats on its upper floors, which will be available for rent.

The enterprise area will include space for pop-up projects, one-off events, long-term units for hire, a retail unit and co-working space.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the opportunities becoming available should email Executive Director Scott Mackay on More details about the project can also be found at

Work at 135-139 High Street is being funded by the Scottish Government, South of Scotland Enterprise, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Holywood Trust and Dumfries High Street Limited (trading as Midsteeple Quarter).

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