The old Shawbost Museum, set up by a local school to record the history of the island, is being brought back to life by the community.
It was in 1969 when the late Charles Macleod, former Headmaster at Shawbost School on the West Side of Lewis, persuaded the education authority to buy the old Church at the heart of the village for £300.
With the help of a grant from the Highland Village Project the Grade C listed building was turned into a museum holding a unique record of the social history of the West Side.
The building was eventually put on the open market by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in 2012, and the realisation that it could be sold to a private owner spurred the community to once again take matters into their own hands. The Urras Dualchas Shiaboist (Shawbost Heritage Trust) was formed to ensure the old church and former museum was returned to the community and with ward funding from local councillors the building was purchased in February this year, for just over £4,000.
Plans have been drawn-up to restore the building, turning it into a Heritage and Education Centre with areas for permanent exhibitions on Crofting, Fishing, Harris Tweed and the Blackhouse as well as space for workshops, study facilities and a retail area.
A consultation day held earlier this month gave the community an opportunity see and comment on the plans before the next round of applications are made to secure the vital funding needed to complete the project.
The Trust welcomes all support from anyone interested in the project and can be contacted by email at UDSiabost@gamil.com.
For more about the restoration of the old Shawbost Museum see this week’s Stornoway Gazette, out now.
And see the above slideshow for a tour around the former Church of Scotland building and some of the museum artefacts, many of which will be familiar to islanders who remember visiting the Museum.