The project to make Sumburgh Head into a world-class visitor attraction took a step forward this week with the official launch of its website at www.sumburghhead.com.
The £5.4 million project to restore the area, an RSPB bird reserve and a site of special scientific interest, is being led by Shetland Amenity Trust, in partnership with the RSPB and in co-operation with the Northern Lighthouse Board.
As well as one of the most accessible bird colonies in the UK, Sumburgh Head boasts an early Stevenson lighthouse. The class-A listed structure was designed by Robert Stevenson and built in 1821, with the light controlled and maintained by the NLB.
The alterations at Sumburgh Head will include better access and parking, an information kiosk and an education centre. Visitors will get an insight into the lighthouse keepers’ way of life and there will be a two-floor marine life centre.
Self-catering holidays will continue to be available and there will be various other upgrades and restoration work to interesting parts of the building, including those built during World War II.
Invitations to tender for the construction works were issued on 7th February and the contractor will be appointed later this month.
The website, described as a “public resource”, was designed and created by local firm NB Communication. It will be regularly updated with news, information, photos, and details of public access as work begins and progresses on the site.
People will be invited to share information and interesting stories about the area throughout the construction phase. The website also includes details of what the public can expect to find on the site once work is completed in 2014.
Shetland Amenity Trust general manager Jimmy Moncrieff said: “Now that the website has been launched and we are so close to announcing the contractor, the Sumburgh Head project is creating a real feeling of excitement among all those involved.
“We are delighted to be working with the RSPB on this important project, which will benefit Shetland’s natural heritage and have a significant impact on heritage tourism in the area.
“It will also help to promote the good work of RSPB at this key bird reserve, and highlight the continuing importance of the valuable work of the NLB for the safety of mariners.
“Our funders have invested a considerable sum of money in Shetland’s heritage and we are very grateful for their support.”
Over £3.7 million of the funding has come from national and European sources, including Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP); European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); Heritage Lottery Fund; Historic Scotland; Highlands & Islands Enterprise; Scottish Natural Heritage; The Wolfson Foundation; the SIC, Shetland Amenity Trust and RSPB.