Following a tendering process conducted under EU procurement rules, Northern Irish firm GRAHAM Construction has been identified as the preferred main contractor for the Lews Castle Museum and Archive project.
The £8.5 million contract includes a new museum and archive extension on the site of the former glasshouses as well as extensive works to repair and restore the historic interior of the Castle.
The Comhairle Leader, Angus Campbell, said: “This is a once in a generation project which will have very significant cultural, heritage and economic benefits for our island communities. The construction phase will provide a boost for the local economy over the next two years and the project will be a catalyst for further investment in and around the Castle and across the islands.
“The Comhairle is working with the Stornoway Trust on a project to regenerate the Castle Grounds and improve links to the town centre. We are also at an advanced stage of discussions with a preferred operator for the private sector hospitality operation within the restored castle.
“We will be working closely with the main contractor on delivering community benefits which are an integral part of the contract. This will include maximising opportunities for local sub-contractors and suppliers, training, apprenticeship and other opportunities. We want to ensure that this project creates a legacy in terms of the specialist skills required for conserving and maintaining our historic buildings.
“Following the set-back with the Phase 1 contract last year, we worked with our funding partners to find a solution. That contract was taken on by Neil Mackay & Co and we have been delighted with progress and the quality of the workmanship.
“Partnership has been the key to this project and I would like to thank all our funding partners and local stakeholders, particularly the Stornoway Trust and Lews Castle College, who have been very supportive of the project over a long period.”
Shelagh Thorne, Project Manager for Historic Scotland’s grants team, said: “This marks the second phase of an exciting project to bring Lews Castle back into use. It will provide an important cultural resource for the town and the Western Isles as a whole and we are pleased to be supporting the works through our grants scheme.”
Gordon Macdonald, Senior Development Manager for HIE, said: “This is a very exciting project which promises to develop the potential of Lews Castle as both a cultural and economic asset for Lewis and the Outer Hebrides. We are pleased that the project has reached this important milestone and along with our colleagues in the Comhairle, Heritage Lottery Fund and other partners we are delighted to be supporting these ambitious plans.”
Gary Holmes, regional director for GRAHAM Construction said: “Lews Castle is a cultural asset to the Western Isles and we are tremendously proud to be playing such a pivotal role in bringing it back into productive use.
“GRAHAM Construction has a policy of working with local suppliers and employs local labour wherever possible and we look forward to engaging with the construction industry in the area to explore opportunities on this high profile project.”