Royal visit seals the transfer of Flannans lighthouse keepers’ station to the Breasclete community

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Urras an Taighe Mhòir, the West Side group who have been driving forward local rural regeneration through the redevelopment of the former station of light-house keepers to the Flannan Isles, have announced the transfer of ownership of An Taigh Mòr, the former lighthouse station to the community, marking a new chapter in the 120 year history of this historic building.

With her particular interest in lighthouse heritage, the group welcomed Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to An Taigh Mòr as part of her visit to the village of Breasclete on October 2nd, where a plaque was unveiled commemorating the transfer of ownership to the community.

From the announcement of their intention to sell, Hebridean Housing Partnership’s support of a community buy-out has been central to a progression to ownership, an ambition which has now been realised through funding from both the Scottish Government and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Norman MacLeod, Chairman of HHP said: “It is great to see An Taigh Mòr being returned to the community at Breasclete following the sale from Hebridean Housing Partnership, who took management of the building in 2006 after the transfer of social housing stock from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Given the building’s historic status it became incredibly costly to bring the eight flats up to the Scottish Housing Quality Standard so in November 2015 the Board took the decision to sell it, and we are thrilled to finally hand over the keys to Urras an Taighe Mhòir and look forward to seeing how the community group are going to transform it.”

In recognition of this the community would like to thank the Scottish Government, the Comhairle and HHP for their roles in securing this building for which there is so much attachment locally, promoting the heritage, history and cultural importance of An Taigh Mòr to our island.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We want to give more power to communities to decide their own futures based on local need.

“Taking over local land or buildings can give communities the opportunity to deliver services, provide jobs, skills and training.

“It can help groups become more sustainable, build confidence and a sense of resilience.

“That’s why I’m pleased to see the local people taking ownership of this iconic and historic local landmark, with support from the Council, Hebridean Housing Partnership and £147,250 of Scottish Government investment.”

Comhairle Leader Roddie MacKay, added: “On behalf of the Comhairle, I’d like to congratulate Urras an Taighe Mhòir on this milestone in acquiring what is a historic building in the life of the local community and the island as a whole.

“We will continue to support the Urras to develop their ambitious proposals for economic regeneration and growth.”

The building known locally as ‘An Taigh Mòr’ is a Grade 2 listed, sandstone building, designed by the renowned partnership of David Alan and Charles Stevenson and built in 1899 as a shore-base for the families of lighthouse keepers to the Flannan Isles.

The building has specific links with the Flannan Isles tragedy of 1900 as two of the keepers mysteriously lost, were based there with their families at the time, the third keeper lost being local to the village of Breasclete.

The building consequently has special significance, to not only lighthouse history, but also to the village within which subsequent keepers and their families lived for up to seventy years following the tragedy.

The Breasclete Community Association, together with Urras an Taigh Mhòir, stated that they were privileged to host a visit from Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

And were delighted that her visit marked the official handover of An Taigh Mòr to the Community.

Moving forward to development stage the project has successfully secured funding of £20,000 from Architectural Heritage Fund through their Scottish Community Development Grant, key to finalising the facilities the community have aspired to during consultation.

Further match-funding for this stage is currently being sought, one of the aims being to employ a Project Officer, supporting the progression to re-development.

If you live in the area - Linshader to Tolsta Chaolais and wish to become a member of Urras an Taighe Mhòir or if you live further afield and have a specific interest in the project, please like the group’s Facebook page ‘Urras an Taighe Mhoir’ for updates, or contact Anne Maciver at: urrasantaighemhoir@gmail.com