Ambitious plans to save Brough Lodge in Fetlar have taken a major step forward after Historic Scotland announced that it is to contribute £149,000 towards the first phase of the restoration.
With some funding for the £380,000 project to make the building secure and wind- and watertight already in place from the SIC, Shetland Amenity Trust and other sources, it means work can begin in September this year.
The Brough Lodge Trust was set up in 1998 to give the building a new future. However, there were legal difficulties and the trust was only able to acquire the building in 2007 following the intervention of its new chairman, Frenchman Pierre Cambillard, who fell in love with both Fetlar and the building.
Welcoming Historic Scotland’s contribution, Mr Cambillard said: “I’m delighted that there has been a further vote of confidence in the Brough Lodge project. At a time when the financial outlook is uncertain, it’s important that we continue to invest in Shetland’s heritage in ways that will benefit the whole community.
“This isn’t just about preserving the past, it’s about creating new opportunities that will help the economy of Fetlar and Shetland to be more diverse and more prosperous. I thank those who already donated to the project and would ask people to consider making whatever donation they can afford.”
The ultimate aim is that Brough Lodge should offer comfortable accommodation for a range of residential courses focusing on special groups, such as those interested in Shetland knitting and music, photography and archaeology.
The trust has taken care to ensure that the local community has been fully involved in the development of the project. There have been public meetings and consultation with the community council.
Bringing the whole project to fruition is likely to cost in the region of £2m to £3m and the trust decided to split the work into two phases, the second of which will restore the building’s interior.
The Brough Lodge Trust is developing a new website which, from this summer, will provide comprehensive information about the project and explain the trust’s vision. It’s also hoped that the website will attract new sponsors.
Funds are also being raised in other ways. Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham recently played at a benefit concert in Glasgow, raising £1,200.