Gairloch Museum heads towards the finishing line.....
Visitors to Gairloch and Wester Ross in 2019 will be witness to the impressive new Gairloch Museum, scheduled to open in June.
The Museum will be housed in a new location, based in one of Gairloch’s better kept secrets from the Cold War. This is a huge, square monolith that until recently housed the Highland Council roads depot, and locally as the ‘Old Radar Station’. In actual fact, this is a blast-proof structure that was built in the early 1950s Cold War period as an A.A.O.R. (Anti-Aircraft Operations Room). The new project proposal therefore provides a viable heritage and community use for the redundant building, and will also be home to West Highland College - part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Rear of building - February 2018 Same view - February 2019
So, what's the background story to this?
Since 1977 the Gairloch Heritage Museum has been a successful, award-winning tourist attraction, with full ACE accreditation and a Visit Scotland 4* rating.
The proposed transformation has avoided costly and environmentally damaging demolition of the building, and will enable the Museum to provide more Gaelic language and literature studies; traditional skills workshops and training; educational visits; archaeological and genealogical research; and heritage activities. It can also expand its permanent and temporary exhibitions, as the previous building did not have the capacity to meet these increasing demands. The museum will also be able to grow its collection in the modern artefact and archive stores the new building will house.
The interior, and working on the installation of the Lighthouse display
The project has come together with valuable assistance from two Scottish Government funding sources - the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, and the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund – and also successfully sourced a major grant from the Heritage Lottery fund, and LEADER. Many other funders – over 30 in total - contributed smaller amounts to the project. And the Gairloch community raised an amazing £200,000 towards the cost over a three year period, thanks to numerous local fundraising events and donations from individuals and businesses.
The new layout (entrance on left of photo)
The Museum Curator, Karen Buchanan, has driven the project forwards over the last few years with the help of the Museum committee. Museum volunteers will help decant the collection into its new home this spring and are very much looking forward to moving in to their new home. There will be a special programme of activities in the week commencing 8th July to celebrate the official opening of the new building.