One of the most famous potteries on the Outer Hebrides has re-opened its doors after being brought back to life by a family of local artists.
Coll Pottery, whose figures were once famous across the globe, had lain derelict for 10 years before the Whittle family decided to relocate from South Uist and re-purpose the space on the Isle of Lewis for their own use.
With help from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides, the family secured £20k from the EU-funded European Regional Development Fund’s Grants for Growth scheme and a further £10k from the Comhairle’s Revolving Loan Fund which they invested, alongside personal savings, into the first phase of remodelling the property.
Now, the owners, husband and wife, Stella and Alan, and two of their children, Aidan, a blacksmith, and daughter Angharad, a jeweller in her spare time, have created two customer galleries and installed a small commercial kitchen and coffee shop.
All the family use the 700sqm workshop to produce a range of art including ceramics, glass suncatchers and jewellery to display and sell, with the eventual plan being to rent out workshop space to other artists and run art and craft seminars to generate additional income.
Having moved to Uist with the Army, Alan and Stella set up home in Stoneybridge. On leaving the Army in 1991, Alan established Uist Crafts to sell the cold cast sculpted Celtic giftware and Hebridean cottages and local wildlife ornaments he made.
She said: “When Aidan decided to become a blacksmith full-time, we realised the small workshop that Alan and I used wasn’t big enough so we started to look for larger premises.
“We had gone to look on Skye but turned to Business Gateway Outer Hebrides to see if there was help available that would allow us to stay here.
“Their advice and support with our funding applications was invaluable.
“They also helped us access 1:1 support from a digital expert through the DigitalBoost programme which has dragged me into the digital age.
“If Business Gateway hadn’t helped us we wouldn’t still be living in the Outer Hebrides and Coll Pottery would still be falling down.”
Find out how Business Gateway Outer Hebrides can help your business by visiting www.bgateway.com/westernisles or call 01851 808 240.