March 2017


The museum recently learned that our redevelopment project is one of two projects in the Highlands that will benefit from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.  This fund, delivered in partnership with COSLA and local government, supports locally developed regeneration projects that involve local communities, helping to support and create jobs and build sustainable communities. Highland Council applied to the fund on our behalf and we are grateful for their continuing support with our project. The £350,000 that we have been awarded by the fund is a huge boost to the project


We have also benefited from a further £95,000 from the Scottish Government's Vacant and Derelict Land Fund. This money will be allocated to tidying up the site before building works commence, for example demolishing the derelict single story building in front of the AAOR and removing contamination from asbestos, fuel and road salts from the site.


These funds bring us a lot closer to achieving the total match funding we need before Heritage Lottery Fund will allow the project to start. The project timetable is for building work to start in the early autumn of this year, and it is looking increasingly likely that this will go ahead.

December 2016


We are thrilled to be able to report that Gairloch Heritage Museum has received a confirmed grant of £725,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for our project ‘Our Land, Our People, Our Story’, which will build a new museum for Gairloch.


The investment by Heritage Lottery Fund is a vital part of the total funding package for the project, and we believe it will be the catalyst that will attract the substantial amount of match funding that still needs to be raised by next summer.  This is now the absolute priority for the museum and we would love to hear from anyone who has ideas or energy to help out with the fundraising campaign.  Although it is a huge task to raise the remaining monies, the museum board and volunteers are determined to secure the future of the museum for our members and our community.  To get this far is a massive achievement for a volunteer led organisation in a small and remote community. Now let's raise the rest of the match funding and make sure the project goes ahead!

November 2016


We are pleased to report that Highland Council has approved the planning application for the building work on our new museum site and we have now applied for a buildings warrant


We are currently awaiting a decision from several funding bodies to whom we have applied.  In particular, we expect a decision from Heritage Lottery Fund on whether they will fund stage 2 (the Delivery Phase) of our redevelopment project. Feedback from HLF suggests that they are happy with the progress we have made at Stage 1, so we hope that we will have some good news to share soon.  We are also busy fitting together the jigsaw puzzle of the complete funding package.  We have applied to two Scottish Government administered funds and one UK Government.  Once the outcome of the HLF application is clear we intend to approach a number of private trusts who have expressed an interest in providing matched funding.  Updates will be provided as we hopefully make progress to securing all the necessary funding for the building work to start next summer.


June 2016


Gairloch Heritage Museum closer to fundraising target thanks to £100,000 grant from SSE


The Gairloch and District Heritage Company has been announced as one of twenty organisations across the Highlands to benefit from the SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund. The project will convert a former Cold War anti-aircraft operations room into a dynamic heritage hub and shared centre for learning for the community as well as a landmark visitor attraction for the area. It will also ensure the long-term future of the museum’s collections and the cultural events it hosts. Funding of £100,000 has been awarded by SSE towards the cost of relocating the museum.


Roy Macintyre, Chairman of the Company said “This funding from SSE represents a substantial contribution to the total funds necessary to take our project forward. The new building will enable us to expand our collections and reach out to new audiences. The social, environmental and economic benefits to the community will be considerable. We are delighted that SSE has invested in our community and that the future of the Museum looks more secure.”


Lord McConnell, Chair of the SSE Sustainable Development Fund panel, said: “The panel were delighted to support such a high quality application. The new museum at Gairloch will be genuinely transformative and is a great example of how a heritage and tourism project can provide additional benefits to the community. I wish the group all the best with their further fund-raising efforts.”



About the SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund

Funded by SSE’s onshore wind farms, the SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund is open to all non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities for projects that will provide benefit in the Highland region. It has three priority areas, Creating Opportunities, Empowering Communities and Building Sustainable Places, and is expected to release over £20m in awards over the next 25 years. The fund will open again in autumn 2017.



April 2016


We have now passed through our Heritage Lottery Fund Stage C Review, which means we are on target to submit our Round 2 application to HLF this August. We’ve received some really positive feedback from them in response to all the work we’ve been doing, and are now very hopeful that our full grant application will be successful. We’ve also had some other recent success with our fundraising, having received a pledge of £15,000 towards our project from a well-known Scottish charity.


Our Architects and Designers are now producing plans for us to RIBA stage 3, which means our designs will be further developed and costed as we work towards applying for planning permission. If you have not had the opportunity to view the plans as they currently stand at one of our consultations, or would like to see them again with a little more detail about the proposed interpretation in our new building, then come along to our exhibition ‘Transforming the Bunker’. It will be up until Saturday 6 May, and there’s free entry to the museum every Saturday in April.

January 2016


Our development project has taken another big step forward with the production of updated architectural floor plans for our new building. It’s exciting to start thinking in more detail about what could go where and see the layouts starting to take shape – on paper at least! At this point, however, we’re still in the concept stage of planning so do have the chance to make changes to those plans as we receive feedback and further refine our ideas.


We will be holding community consultation sessions over the next few months at various locations throughout the Parish (Aultbea, Gairloch, Kinlochewe, Poolewe and Torridon) where architectural and design plans will be available for people to view in more detail. There will be opportunities to give feedback on the plans and other aspects of the project, and Staff and Board members will be on hand to provide more information and answer any questions. Keep an eye on the usual channels (this website, Facebook, the yellow pages) over the next few weeks to find out when we’ll be in your area.

Sep 2015


One of our key focusses right now is the question of how we will display and interpret our collections in the new museum. In order to help us think about this we have made visits to various museums, perhaps with similar collections to ours or that have recently undergone a redevelopment, in order to assess their interpretive approach. So far we have been to see Kilmartin Museum, The Blackwatch Museum, The Highland Folk Museum, Timespan and The Highlanders Museum. Some of us were also fortunate enough to make a trip to Shetland to visit Sumburgh Head, the Shetland Museum and Archive and Scalloway Museum, among other sites.  A trip to the soon-to-open Museum nan Eilean on Lewis is also planned for November.


This all feeds into the information we pass on to our designers, which whom we had our first key meeting last week.  Based on our thoughts so far, they will start to produce gallery layouts to show where content might be displayed.


Consulting with key stakeholders is an important part of this process as well, to ensure that they have a say in what we are producing.  Over the next few months we intend to hold a number of consultations, both formal and informal, about such things as the main themes and sections our new exhibitions will focus on, the key messages we want to convey to our visitors and the most important objects that must not be left out of our displays. If this is a process you would like to be involved in, please get in touch, otherwise look out for more information through the usual channels (website, Facebook page, yellow pages, email 2LR and so on) over the coming months.

Jul 2015


With funding received from Heritage Lottery Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Ward Discretionary Trust, we have now received official permission to start the development phase of our project. This means our architects and designers will start doing surveys of the old Cold War bunker, and we will meet with them and the designers to discuss in more detail our plans for the building.


We are also starting some of the major fundraising towards the £2 million we need for the project, as well as trying to raise the profile of the project in the community and further afield. To that end we have produced a leaflet giving information about what we are trying to achieve in our new centre. If you have not yet seen it, then click here for a downloadable version.


We plan to run some exciting events over the winter, so keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for more details.

Mar 2015


We are thrilled to announce that, in the face of strong competition, we were successful in our round 1 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). We have been awarded £32,600 of development funding to help us progress our plans to move the museum into the disused AAOR building.


What does this mean for us now?


We are now entering the 'development' phase of our project, and over the next few months will be preparing various pieces of work, policies and plans for the next HLF funding round. The architects will be working to develop their schematic designs, and we'll be making a start on our major fundraising too. In winter 2015/16 we will then apply for a full grant from HLF. If successful, this would provide a significant proportion of the £1.9m total that we need to raise


Although we are not guaranteed to get round 2 funding, HLF's guidance states "a first round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposals, an award for the project is confirmed."

So we are in a pretty strong position and, for a small museum in an isolated rural area, this is a real encouragement. It shows that HLF has confidence in us and our ability to carry out a multi-million pound project

Feb 2015


Whilst we wait to hear about the success of our HLF application (March 15 is the big day) we’d like to share a bit more about our plans for the AAOR building. We’ve put some of the initial architect’s drawings online to give a better idea of what our new museum could look like. Click here to view them, but do bear in mind that we’re still in the very early stages of the development process so plans are subject to change.


When the museum reopens on the 1st of April we’ll have a small display area showing those same drawings, but with more detail about how we intend to turn an eyesore into an exciting new visitor attraction. Hopefully we’ll be able to get the display up in one or two other places throughout the wider community, and we intend to follow that up with a mail campaign in Gairloch District so we can reach even more people.


Keep your eye on this page over the coming months as I’ll be keeping it updated with our progress on the redevelopment, and thank you for all your support.

Nov 2014


Heritage Lottery Fund Application Submitted

On Friday, 28th November 2014 we submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for funds to transform the AAOR into a new museum and heritage hub for Gairloch.  The process has been very time consuming and challenging for staff and volunteers, and we are grateful to all who have supported and assisted us in putting together what we think is a very creditable application.  We are also thrilled to have received almost £45,000 in pledges from our members and supporters, which will demonstrate to HLF the extent of community backing for the project.


We have taken on board the feedback we received on our previous HLF application, which was turned down in July 2013.  We have developed more detailed costings of the building, reducing costs where possible.  There have also been major developments as regards building partnerships with other organisations, who have an interest in using the building.  These organisations range from Gaelic toddler groups to the University of the Highlands and Islands.  We are very excited about the possibility of sharing space and working with these groups, should the application be successful.


Whilst any HLF bid is highly competitive, and assessed against many other worthy applications that will be submitted at the same time, we are confident that we have a stronger application than previously, and that we have made the case for the need  for a new premises to safeguard the future of the museum.  We will find out in March 2015 whether our application has been successful.

Apr 2014


Brainstorming event on our revised submission (9th April 2014)

A very constructive brainstorming event was held in the museum last month to reflect on feedback provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund (Scotland) on our previous bid for funds to redevelop the AAOR building as a museum and heritage centre for Gairloch. Board members and specially invited interested parties from Gairloch and beyond split into three groups to discuss how we could reduce our costs for the building project, identify what partnerships we could usefully develop that would strengthen our case and update our business plan for the new museum. A number of exciting opportunities arose from the meeting, which we will be working hard to achieve over the next few months. Our aim is to resubmit a revised bid to HLF towards the end of this year. We are pleased to report that Highlands and Islands Enterprise have stressed their desire to see the project succeed and have offered us tangible support in achieving our objectives. We would be delighted to receive any suggestions or offers of support from local individuals and businesses.


Our first bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund last year was unsuccessful – perhaps unsurprisingly, as the fund has limited resources and we were only one of many competing applications. We had a successful meeting with HLF in February, when we were joined by representatives from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who were very supportive. HLF is the “big funder” which we require to have on board to unlock funds from other sources. At our meeting, we received good feedback as to what it is that we are required to do to give our revised bid a greater chance of success. Much work requires to be done, and indeed has been done. The main issues we must address, and are addressing, are as follows –


a) Look at ways to reduce our costs b) Identify partnerships which can be put in place for the use of the building. This we see as an essential requirement, and we are discussing our options at considerable length c) Show how the new building will allow development of our collections, and extension of our activities d) Demonstrate we have realistic prospects of obtaining funding from other sources, although HLF recognise it is difficult to finalise these until the outcome of the grant application is known


Following our “brainstorming meeting” on the 9th April, we now believe it may be possible to obtain funding to instruct our consultants to prepare initial design proposals for the AAOR building which in turn will allow a much more accurate assessment of our costs, and to demonstrate the potential of the building to potential partners.


Dec 2013


A bid for funding from Heritage Lottery to finance the move to the AAOR building was sadly not supported this year.  The museum board are still committed to finding a way to raise the funds to refurbish the AAOR to become a centre for preserving and celebrating the heritage of the Gairloch Community.  The board remains convinced that the building is the only property in Gairloch which meets their objectives for the sustainability and future development of the museum.  Leading members of the Highland Council were recently invited to a presentation on the museum's plans, and reiterated their support for the project.  It was indicated that the previous deadline for finding the funding to develop the building may be flexible if the museum is making progress.  The museum board has also managed to extend the lease on the current premises until 2018, which temporarily alleviates the pressure to move.  However, the board is working hard to address the feedback from HLF so that a new bid could be submitted in 2014. This involves finding ways to cut the cost of the development (or the funding requested) and establishing partnerships with other organisations to extend the use the building and create a greater impact on the community as a whole.  An options appraisal was requested by HLF and will be presented to them early in the New Year.  A meeting with HLF will be requested and, following this meeting, the museum board will evaluate the way forward.


Securing the Future : Options Appraisal


Dec 2012


At the meeting of the Finance, Housing and Resources Committee of the Highland Council, held on 28 November 2012, councillors agreed to support a recommendation that the redundant ‘Roads Depot’ in Achtercairn be sold to the Gairloch and District Heritage Company for the sum of £1 to be developed as a heritage and community centre.


The Museum needs a new home. We are required to vacate our current premises by 2015


Since 1977 the Gairloch Heritage Museum has been a successful, award-winning tourist attraction, with full Museum & Galleries Scotland Accreditation and a VisitScotland high 3* rating.


Our proposal provides a viable heritage and community use for the redundant Roads Depot (known locally as the ‘Old Radar Station’). This monolithic, blast-proof structure was built in the early 1950s Cold War period as an A.A.O.R. (Anti-Aircraft Operations Room).


The site is within the regeneration area identified in the Planning Brief for Achtercairn, prepared some years ago by the Council’s Planning Service. It is close to the new GALE building.


We have commissioned and provided an architect’s Feasibility Study and a Business Plan demonstrating how the building could be transformed and sustained to meet our needs. It also offers scope for other business and community users working in partnership.


Our plans illustrate how a local eyesore in the centre of the village, on the main A832 coastal tourist route, could become an attractive visitor centre with strong environmental credentials.


The proposed transformation would avoid costly and environmentally damaging demolition of the building.


The preliminary Heritage Report establishes the significance of the building within its Scottish and Highland post-Second World War context.


The commitment to the transfer of this asset will enable the Museum to provide more Gaelic language and literature studies; traditional skills workshops and training; educational visits; archaeological and genealogical research; and heritage activities. It can expand its permanent and temporary exhibitions. Currently it does not have the capacity to meet these increasing demands.


The ‘Old Roads Depot’ will offer facilities for cultural events which are not available in the locality and become a community resource for eg mothers-with-toddlers and ‘reminiscence groups’ for older residents.




Gairloch Heritage Museum :   Achtercairn • Gairloch • Ross-shire • IV21 2BP • UK

Curator : Dr. Karen Buchanan (Thompson)

tel : 01445 712287

email :

Gairloch Heritage Museum is operated by Gairloch & District Heritage Company Ltd

 which is run by volunteers and is a registered charity no. SC010249