New retail area is now open at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis centre

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Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN) recently marked its most recent development with the opening of a new retail area at the Cross centre.

The retail area wil sell crafts, artwork and publications from across the Hebrides.

CEN was the first historical society to be set up in the Western Isles in 1977 and over the years it has been based in several different locations throughout the district, none of which were suitable for an ever increasing collection of artefacts.

However In November 2011, CEN secured ownership of the former Cross Primary School.

The building is now home to a vast archive of historical information, family records, photographs as well as an accredited museum.

There is a café in the centre, catering for locals and tourists and it also hosts a weekly day club for the housebound and elderly in the area.

Talking about the retail area development, chairperson of CEN, Annie Macsween said: “CEN is grateful to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for the financial assistance it was granted from these organisations.

“This development is very much in line with the aspirations of these organisations and of many other national bodies including Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Government. “

Other work at the centre has included the replacement of the existing electric storage heating with a more energy efficient system.

The work was carried out courtesy of a grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CNES) and it is hoped the subsequent savings can be reinvested in the further development of services.

The upgrade also ensures that the stringent standards set by Museums, Galleries Scotland when it comes to the care of collections.

HIE’s Head of Strengthening Communities in the Outer Hebrides, Jane Macintosh, said: “We are delighted to support this project which was identified as a priority within a community-led plan for the Ness area.

“Since purchasing the school at Cross, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis has continually sought new income generating opportunities that will enable the centre to provide services to the local community as well as boost visitors numbers.

“A new retail outlet showcasing local arts and crafts will be a welcome addition to the quality museum, educational research facility, and café already situated at the old school.

“The new, modern, energy efficient heating will reduce the building’s carbon footprint, providing positive and environmental benefits. ”

Councillor Alasdair Macleod, Chair of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said: “I’m delighted that the Comhairle’s Community Capital Grant Fund was able to provide funding of £30,000 to enable Comunn Eachdraidh Nis to realise their ambitions in relation to the opening of the new gift shop and retail space.

“I wish them every success in this latest phase of their developments.”

Pictured - the new retail area at the centre opened on November 24th.