Project Progress – 2021

Phase 1b: Emergency Upgrades to our Potable Water Infrastructure

The Trust are pleased to confirm that work to secure and upgrade the site’s freshwater system completed ahead of our planned reopening in April 2021 (though this opening was subsequently delayed to July 2021 due to COVID-19 and major groundworks on site).

The transition to the new borehole has already improved the site’s water quality and supply volume significantly; reducing the visible colouration that results from Ardnamurchan’s peaty soils and eliminating the presence of fine peat sediment (which tended to clog the previous system).

This work was financed by the Trust with support from the Scottish Land Fund. The contract was completed by James Fraser of Fraser Drilling Services Ltd.

Phase 1b: Emergency Repairs to the Grade A Listed Keepers’ Cottages

Work to make good on a like-for-like basis the 16nr timber-framed heritage windows and 4nr timber storm doors commenced in February 2021. This vital refurbishment has not only revived the external appearance of our beautiful grade A listed buildings, but will prevent further water damage from rain being driven in through gaps, broken window panes and rotten window frames.

The joinery contract completed without issue; being funded by Historic Environment Scotland and delivered by Julian Morris of Julian Morris Design & Build Ltd.

The Trust also financed and instructed Highland Blast Ltd to strip and redecorate the badly corroded rainwater hoppers and downpipes across both properties, to help prevent future unsightly rust staining to the buildings’ heritage stonework.

Efforts to re-seal the roof have, however, presented a number of significant and unexpected challenges:

First, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in early 2021, there were delays in undertaking contractor site visits to secure firm prices.

It then transpired that the roofing substrate on the Quarterdeck (which had already been treated successfully) was in fact chemically different to that forming the roof surface of the Keepers’ Cottages.

Following detailed manufacturer enquires and investigations by Gilberts Architects, it was found that the sealing product originally identified and costed for application to the Keepers’ Cottage block roof was incompatible with the existing polymer membrane (i.e. product adhesion and the resultant waterproofing would not be satisfactory).

To overcome this issue, a significantly more specialist and expensive product was required, which few contractors were licenced to apply. See here for a detailed case study of our site from KÖSTER.

This change in specification not only required the revision of our Planning and Listed Building Consent documents, but almost doubled the anticipated cost of the contract; significantly exceeding the Trust’s original Historic Environment Scotland grant. However, if the new system could be delivered, it would carry an insurance-backed 25-year guarantee – giving the Trust much greater peace of mind for the buildings’ future.

Following unsuccessful negotiations with additional potential funders, the Trust undertook to prepare an emergency crowdfunding campaign in a desperate effort to retain the original grant intervention, close the funding gap and secure the roof for a period of 25-years.

However, in a stroke of unbelievably good fortune, Historic Environment Scotland notified the Trust of a budget underspend; largely meeting the shortfall and allowing a second tender process to commence for delivery of the revised specification.

ESR Roofing and Cladding Ltd were appointed to the contract in August 2021, with work to the roof starting in mid-September.

The main contract concluded in October 2021; however, additional work to replace a number of previously concealed rotten timbers was required. This additional work completed without issue in November 2021.

Phase 2: Enhancing Outdoor Areas

As detailed in our RTIF and HCCF Award Announcements, the Trust were thrilled to receive major grant funding from both the VisitScotland Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund and the Highland Coastal Communities Fund.

Following their nomination as the Trust’s Preferred Bidder in October 2020, TSL Contractors Ltd were formally appointed to deliver the main civils contract in April 2021. This comprised work to the site’s causeway, parking areas, footpaths and foghorn viewing platform. The site now boasts beautifully surfaced parking areas and footpaths, with 2nr marked accessible parking spaces for guest use.

Highland Blast Ltd were appointed to treat and redecorate our heritage foghorn accumulator tanks, the extensive stretch of foghorn pipework and the foghorn itself; with these structures now being pristine, cherry red and almost unrecognisable from their previously dilapidated state.

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust are also delighted to confirm initial installation of a new public EV Charge Point in the lower parking area – completed during COP 26, no less! This unit, which will be available to guests for the 2022 season, is a Dual Socket Alfen 7kW/32amp, installed by Jorro and funded by the VisitScotland Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, the Highland Coastal Communities Fund and the Energy Saving Trust.

Some Phase 2 works are still ongoing as a result of Brexit and COVID-19 related supply chain issues/delays. These actions are work to replace the badly corroded foghorn railings (the contract is well underway, but not yet complete); work to install handrails and balustrade runs on the south and west footpaths; work to install a wheelchair/pushchair/cycle repair station and cycle stand; and work to refresh the site’s signage and interpretation offer.

Local drystone dyker Peter Holmes of Rural Skills Training is also busy completing our magnificent new viewpoint, designed by Landscape Architect David Graham of Craignish Design. This area remains roped off as Pete continues with the build.

Phase 3: Revitalising our Visitor Centre

COVID-19 necessitated a prolonged closure of the Trust’s Information Centre (housed in the non-listed Principal Keeper’s Building). This building is a much later and less elegant addition to the site than the grade A listed granite structures; and its build quality is of a noticeably lower standard. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 closure, this building deteriorated further due to long-standing water ingress issues and the impact of reduced use and heating.

The Trust now urgently seek to regenerate and improve the site’s visitor centre offer. This action will serve to increase and diversify income streams in the wake of the pandemic; meaning that our community-owned social enterprise will be both self-sustaining and able to deliver greater economic, social and environmental benefit to our community.

Fortuitously, the programme of works delivered under Phase 2 has ‘set the stage’ for this regeneration and improvement of our Information Centre offer.

With these enabling works in place, the Trust are poised to maintain momentum; deliver a world-class, accessible and low-carbon indoor space; engage a wider range of people with our heritage; and maximise the delivery of sustainable economic and social benefit to our remote rural community.

The Trust submitted an Expression of Interest to the Crown Estate Scotland Community Capacity Grants Programme in September 2021. It is hoped that an award from this fund will help the Trust to progress:

  • Community and Stakeholder Consultation Exercises on options for the development
  • Market Research and Benchmarking Exercises
  • Outline designs and outline costs
  • Business Planning, Cashflow Forecasting and Stress Testing Exercises

The Trust were approved to progress to a full Stage 1 application in October 2021. A final grant funding decision is therefore expected in January 2022.

Phase 4: Renovating the Grade A Listed Keepers’ Cottages

We’re working to give the cottages a new lease of life as welcoming, cosy and accessible self-catering accommodation. This will generate much-needed income to help our social enterprise revitalise the wider lighthouse complex, and enable more people to experience the rich natural and cultural heritage of this special place.

In May 2021, the Trust received a grant award from the Architectural Heritage Fund to progress Project Viability work for a full internal renovation of the Keepers’ Cottages.

This award allowed the Trust to tender for architect services and appoint Gilberts Architects to prepare a Measured Survey, Condition Report, Outline Plans and Outline Costings for the refurbishment.

The Trust approved a proposed new internal layout for the cottages in November 2021.

Our site has been selected as a Case Study by the Architectural Heritage Fund. To find out more about the impact that their support has had on developments at the lighthouse complex, please see here.

A 3D Model of the grade A listed Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Keepers’ Cottage block, © Gilberts Architects