A project to create a new museum next to Scalloway Castle took a major step forward last week when a further council grant of £200,000 was approved by members of the development committee.
The money will go towards converting a former knitwear factory on Castle Street into a museum which will replace the existing one on Main Street, which was opened in 1985.
A lack of display and storage space and limited car parking have been hampering opportunities for the village to exploit heritage tourism and the new building would allow for displays and exhibitions centred around various different themes, including Scalloway at war, industry, people and the Shetland Bus.
The SIC stepped in to help after the Shetland Bus Friendship Society (SBFS) unexpectedly had a bid for a lottery grant turned down, throwing its long-term plans into chaos.
The council’s latest contribution comes on the back of a £100,000 grant approved by the services committee in March and further funding will come from the Scottish rural development plan and various external funding applications.
The success of the applications for external money will dictate whether the property company of the SBFS will undertake a project based on the higher cost model of £936,239 or a lower cost model of £804,628. Douglas Irvine of the economic development unit said it was “realistically” more likely to be the cheaper option.
Council vice-convener Josie Simpson reckoned it was a “very, very worthwhile” project. “We cannot forget what they did in the war with the Shetland Bus,” he said.
Convener Sandy Cluness agreed, pointing out that there were a range of museums of this nature in Norway which have been “extraordinarily” successful. “The sooner this gets underway the better,” he said.
Local councillor Iris Hawkins was also strongly in favour of the project, which she said had been dragging on for five years. She said the community was indebted to SBFS chairman Jack Burgess for the work he had done towards making the project happen.