Plans to convert a former Cold War bunker into the new home of the Gairloch Heritage Museum have taken a step forward with the award of £725,600 of lottery funding.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant towards the Our Land, Our People, Our Story project will see the bunker transformed into a first-rate visitor attraction and community heritage hub as well as securing the long-term future of the museum’s collections and cultural activities. It is envisioned that the museum will open in its new premises in early 2019.
Over the years the derelict bunker has been used as an anti-aircraft operations room, an emergency operations centre and a council roads depot. In its new role it will house expanded displays and improve access to the museum’s collections and will also offer training opportunities both for the museum’s volunteers and, in partnership with UHI, for the area’s young people. A number of professional jobs will also be created within the new centre.
The museum has been managed and run by volunteers since 1977 and is a cultural hub for Gairloch and the surrounding area. It houses the first Pictish stone found on the west coast of mainland Scotland and its Gaelic language and literature resources are highly valued by Gaelic scholars.
Roy Macintyre, chairman of GHM said: “Our project is a very ambitious one for a community of our size, but is the only way to make the museum sustainable and keep it open, preserving our heritage for the future. The investment by Heritage Lottery Fund is a vital part of the total funding package for the project and we are now very hopeful of raising the remaining funds to start building a fabulous new educational and heritage resource for our community in the New Year.”
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland Lucy Casot said: “Gairloch Heritage Museum is bursting with stories and pictures which give us clues to what life was like in Wester Ross over the past 2,000 years and how it has shaped the region. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, the community can come together to preserve and share this precious collection.”