Shetland Amenity Trust has received a £683,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards restoring Sumburgh lighthouse.
One of Scotland’s finest surviving examples of an early 19th century lighthouse, it was built in 1821 by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson.
The group of buildings includes a 1905 foghorn and one of the first British radar stations, Chain Home Low Radar Station, which was added to the site during World War Two. The lighthouse holds a fascination for visitors, making it the second most popular attraction on Shetland even though it is difficult to reach and is closed to the public because of its current condition.
The lottery grant will help restore the buildings and improve access. The existing engine room will be refurbished and used to interpret the story of the lighthouse and the Stevenson family while the radar huts will be opened up to tell the history of the site during World War Two. There will also be an interpretation facility looking at the natural heritage of Sumburgh Head.
The area is an established RSPB Reserve, supporting 35,000 breeding seabirds including fulmar, guillemot, kittiwake, puffin, razorbill and shag, and is also a popular location for whale watching, with sightings of killer and minke whales, dolphins and porpoises. The West Pavilion will be developed into self-catering holiday accommodation, generating income to maintain the other buildings.
Heritage Lottery Fund’s Scottish head Colin McLean said: “This is an exciting project which will open up so many aspects of Shetland’s heritage so we are delighted to give it our support.
“Sumburgh Head is on a popular visitor circuit which includes the 4,000 year old site at Jarlshof and the Iron Age village of Old Scatness.
“The interpretation of the buildings and the natural environment around them will add so much more to the visitor experience and encourage others to discover the magnificence of this part of Shetland’s coast.”
Shetland Amenity Trust general manager Jimmy Moncrieff said: “This is a tremendous boost for the Sumburgh Head project, which will significantly enhance the visitor experience and the educational potential of the site.”
The Heritage Lottery Fund, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, has invested over £7.8 million in Shetland’s heritage. Large projects such as the Shetland Museum and Viking Unst to smaller projects such as the Shetland Place Name project and the Northern Coastal Experience, which involved the construction of three replica Shetland boats, have benefited, along with many others, from lottery fund support.