Brough Lodge heritage centre moves a step closer
After more than a year of work by the Shetland Amenity Trust, the first major phase of repair work at Brough Lodge, Fetlar, is nearing its end. As well as ensuring that the building is wind- and watertight, the original appearance of the main building will be restored, including crenellations and turrets. A total of £417,000 will have been spent on the A-listed building. Almost half of that sum has come from Historic Scotland, with the balance being met by Shetland Islands Council and the Shetland Amenity Trust.
The repairs were the minimum required to keep the building in reasonable condition. However, 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. The Trust believes that, in the fullness of time, Brough Lodge could be restored in a way that would make it a real asset to the Fetlar community, producing income through direct employment and creating wider economic benefits for the island.
The preferred option, which was endorsed by business consultants, was to restore the old house for a mixed use involving residential heritage workshops and exhibitions. These would blend the knowledge and perspective of local people with the curiosity of visitors, who by paying for accommodation and other services, would bring income to Fetlar and create employment.
The Brough Lodge Trust believes that the concept of heritage workshops, developed five years ago, is now more attractive than ever before. Events such as Shetland Wool Week, initiatives such as the Shetland Geopark 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 attracts 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 facilities and quality that Brough Lodge could offer are exactly in line with the needs of some of the most promising market segments for Shetland.
The total cost of the remaining restoration project is estimated at £2.8m. The aim is to attract the support of a major private donor or Trust, with the option of having the heritage centre named after the donor. It is also hoped that some additional work could meanwhile be undertaken to adjoining buildings, possibly through smaller local donations, including ‘in-kind’ donations from local suppliers and contractors, which the Brough Lodge Trust always warmly welcomes.
Pierre Cambillard, the Chair of the Trust and its Project Manager, said:
“I am delighted that we have received a strong commitment from Historic Scotland, Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Amenity Trust for the first phase restoration project. I believe that, despite the recession, it will be possible to secure financial support for the original plan to restore the site as a residential heritage centre. In the meantime, however, we would be delighted to receive donations from local people and Shetland businesses to help with the next step. I’m confident that investing in Shetland’s heritage in this way will benefit the whole community. In restoring assets of this kind, we don’t just preserve the past; we also increase the attractiveness of our islands to visitors and help preserve or develop local skills, which is essential if the economy is to be diverse and prosperous. I would ask people to consider making whatever donation they can afford. For more details please visit our website www.broughlodge.org”
Donations or any other form of support 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. Any donation will be acknowledged with a receipt.
Photos taken January 12th, 2013: