Brough Lodge: a remarkable site on the Shetland island of Fetlar Brough Lodge

Brough Lodge will support teaching of hand-knitting - and gains new Patron

10th October 2014

The Brough Lodge Trust, which is restoring the A-listed house in Fetlar, plans to support Shetland’s cherished hand-knitting tradition. This would happen in workshops in Brough Lodge for high end tourists. The Trust has also announced the appointment of a Patron for textiles, world-renowned textile artist, Kaffe Fassett.

Trustees always intended that the building would be used as the venue for residential workshops, attracting visitors from around the world to learn about Shetland music, textiles, archaeology and wildlife.  The Trust’s business plan has shown that the income generated from accommodation and other services would create direct employment in Fetlar and produce wider economic benefits for the North Isles and the rest of Shetland.  

With the first major phase of restoration now complete, the Trust has been considering how these benefits can be maximised.  Following discussions during August with people involved in textiles, Trustees concluded that a priority should be support for traditional knitting skills.  The Trust intends to also develop a programme aimed at teaching hand knitting to school children in local communities in Shetland and a local task force has begun to consider how that can best be done.  It is likely that one or more pilot projects will be carried out to help determine the right approach.  Once Brough Lodge is operational, profits will be used to support the programme.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Brough Lodge Trust has warmly welcomed Kaffe Fassett as Patron for textiles.  Pierre Cambillard said:

“I am delighted that we have received such a strong commitment from Kaffe Fassett.  His work is outstanding and has drawn admiration all over the world.  We are determined to help secure the islands’ unique heritage for the future and we are confident that his endorsement of what we are trying to do will underpin our efforts at Brough Lodge.  We also hope that it will strengthen Shetland’s connections with the international textile community.”

Kaffe Fassett joins the Patron for music, Dr Aly Bain, who agreed to lend his support to the project some years ago.

Pierre Cambillard is in no doubt that the concept of heritage workshops, developed five years ago, is now more attractive than ever before.  He said:

“Events such as Shetland Wool Week, initiatives such as Geopark Shetland and the continuing growth of interest in music, archaeology and of course wildlife have demonstrated that Shetland has the potential to play a bigger role in world tourism.  The islands already attract many visitors with special interests in all these fields.  In particular, wealthy tourists from many parts of the world, including North America, increasingly look for authentic experiences in more remote, relatively undiscovered locations.  The recession seems to have had little impact on such visitors.  The Trust intends that the facilities and high quality that Brough Lodge could offer are exactly in line with the needs of some of the most promising market segments for Shetland.”

Pierre Cambillard added that the Brough Lodge Trust is “hugely impressed” with the restoration work that has been undertaken by the Shetland Amenity Trust’s Architectural Heritage Team.  As well as installing new roofs and ensuring that the building is wind- and watertight, the team has substantially restored the original appearance of the main building. 

Grant aid amounting to almost £510,000 has been made available by Historic Scotland, Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Amenity Trust.  The repairs were the minimum needed to make the building structurally safe and wind and watertight but it’s hoped that, with the building secured, it will be easier to attract sponsorship from public agencies and the private sector for the major work inside, estimated to cost £3.8m.

Fund-raising is about to begin and a number of grant applications are being prepared.  The Trust also hopes that a major private donor can be attracted to support the project.  However, Pierre Cambillard has emphasised that all donations are welcome, including donations in kind from local suppliers who wish to support the project through provision of materials.  He said:

“The more successful the appeal, the more quickly the restoration can be completed, meaning that the project’s benefits will begin to be realised.  It really is an investment in Shetland’s future.”

Contributions will also be welcome from those who may wish to support the pilot hand-knitting projects.   Any donations may be addressed to Brough Lodge Trust, c/o Paul Rutherford, St Olaf’s Hall , Church Road, Lerwick ZE1 OFD. A Gift Aid form is available on request and any donation will be acknowledged with a receipt.  Full details of the project are available at www.broughlodge.org.

Further Information: Pierre Cambillard, Chairman and Trustee of Brough Lodge Trust and Project Coordinator, pecambillard@yahoo.com

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