Final funding for Lews Castle

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Finance Secretary John Swinney was in Stornoway this morning (Wednesday) to announce the final section of funding for the development of Lews Castle.

Mr Swinney confirmed that £1.8 million pounds from the European Regional Development Fund is being invested in the project when he visited the site.

Around £14 million in total is to be spent on restoring and converting the property, which has been shut for almost twenty-five years. When completed, the museum will use Gaelic as its first language and will encourage people of all ages to tell their stories of island life.

The permanent displays will also include six of the world famous Lewis Chessmen and the development will create a new resource for academics, family researchers as well as local schools and colleges.

Mr Swinney said: “This exciting project can transform the way we engage with the unique heritage of the Western Isles. It will encourage us all to get involved and make the most of the excellent new resources which build on the rich oral heritage of the area.

“The development will create new jobs, in both the short and the long term, and contribute more than three million pounds to the local economy during the construction phase alone.

“The tourism industry will benefit from this, with people traveling from far and wide to find out about their ancestors or to learn about the history of the Western Isles and their way of life.

“I look forward to seeing the positive impact that the transformation of Lews Castle has on the local community in future.”

The Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, said;

“This is excellent news for the Outer Hebrides and secures the funding package for what is a major project for the islands.

“I would like to thank our partners from the Heritage Lottery Fund,  Historic Scotland, HIE, the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund for enabling the Comhairle in taking this project forward.”

Highlands and Island Enterprise Assistant Area Manager for Innse Gall, Anne Macaulay, 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.

“HIE is pleased to be supporting these ambitious plans, along with our colleagues in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Heritage Lottery Fund.”