A new centre at Pairc Niseaboist in Harris is already proving to be a beacon in drawing new business, community activity, employment opportunities, as well as visitors to this once sleepy rural area.
‘Talla na Mara’ (the centre by the sea) are heralding their potential as a first class venue which can host anything from weddings and conferences to theatrical, film and musical performances.
The new hub is an architect designed community enterprise centre owned and managed by the West Harris Trust.
The plan for the initiative first germinated in 2012 when consultation for a new centre started, architects were appointed and funding sought for the project and in May 2015 the first turf was cut for building work to begin.
Now the centre, which was named last year in a competition for schoolchildren, won by the then eight year old Alex Passmore of Leverhulme Memorial School, is coming into its own.
It’s killer edge must be its situation, as the centre overlooks the golden sands of Niseaboist beach, boasting one of the most photographed locations in the Outer Hebrides.
Visitors can immediately see why Talla na Mara is being called “the venue with the view”, and the reason why couples are quickly booking it up as the perfect setting for their big day.
Anna Helfrich Centre and Events Manager explained: “With beach weddings in the Outer Hebrides becoming more popular every year, Talla na Mara is perfectly situated for couples who want a venue just a stone’s throw from the beach.
“This year we are hosting five wedding celebrations ranging from wee weddings to large family gatherings and look forward to many more in 2018.”
And it seems the view is what clinched the deal, as Anna revealed many of the couples who looked at the venue, did so as its building works were being finished.
But now all of its facilities are up and running, with four separate business units being used - in fact demand for these units exceeded supply - so further expansion may be possible in the future.
At the moment it is estimated that in peak season the centre will employ around 20 people, however this again could change if businesses do expand.
The beautiful spot is bound to be a draw for tourists, but the centre is keen to develop its potential as a year-round venue and community support for the project has already been very apparent.
The children’s show ‘The Fisherman and the Seal’ was enjoyed recently, a film club has started, beauty treatments are available on a Thursday and a concert is on the books for May 27th.
The venue also recently hosted a fundraising event with the proceeds enough to buy a defibrillator unit for the site.
But it is not all about the centre as Anna explains: “In the future we also want to promote events which take people into the surrounding area, so things like beachcombing and foraging walks, to show people more of West Harris.”
Word of mouth and Facebook are doing the work of promoting all that is going on at Talla na Mara, so if you want to keep up to date with all the activities at the centre log on to: https://www.facebook.com/TallaNaMara/
The facilities at
Talla na Mara include:
A Gallery hosting the work of local artists
Four art and Design Studios
Offices, a meeting room and full conference facilities.
Flexible spaces available for private hire
A rapid charge dual outlet electric vehicle chargepoint.
Three campervan pitches with electric hook-ups and facilities.
Performance spaces for music, theatre and film.
Facilities for walkers and cyclists on the Hebridean Way
The Machair Kitchen restaurant open Monday to Saturday 10am to 9pm featuring freshly cooked local produce.
The project was funded by the Scottish Government, The Big Lottery Fund, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Coastal Communities Fund, the Robertson Trust, Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust and the West Harris Trust in kind.