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Refurbishment Project

Background to the project:

Our building is an important and fascinating piece in the story of the Highland Clearances as it was from the pulpit which still dominates the main room that Rev David Mackenzie was obliged to read out eviction notices to his congregation. Then later in 1883 where tenants and crofters from across north Sutherland met to give evidence to the Napier Commission: Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands.

Built in 1774 the former parish church is a category B listed building signifying its regional importance to the area. In 1882 internal alterations saw the removal of a gallery and the insertion of some party walls. Today you can still see this evolution in the building as a faint line runs around the main room and the rough construction of the party walls is evident.

For many years our hardworking volunteers have been working to raise money to fund improvements to the building, which would include some much need repairs and improvements to the facilities for our visitors and staff. We want to create an inviting, comfortable space for people to visit which would include an improved reception area and easier access to our collection and research materials in the form of a dedicated research room. We were awarded £7,000 from the Architectural Heritage Fund to help progress our proposals which allowed us to create a Business Plan and options appraisal. This work enabled us to secure £29,349 from Highland LEADER to engage an architect to draw up plans based on the pre-development work.

Where are we now:

Following consultation with volunteers and members of the public a design proposal has been produced by CH Architecture, Bonar Bridge and an application has been submitted to Highland Council for Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent. If you missed our consultation day you can download the proposal from the sidebar to the right. From the design work we now have accurate costings on which to base applications for significant funding to deliver our exciting project. Our fundraising target is a little over £1.9m and we had secured almost £716,000 by the end of December 2019. We have a long way to go but we are busy making applications for significant funding to a range of funders but we also need to match this with funding raised directly by us. You can help us achieve this by contributing to our Refurbishment Appeal on Total Giving or check out our rewards on our Crowd Funder.

  • Business Plan created, funded by The Architectural Heritage Fund;
  • Architects Plans and Costings secured thanks to funding from Highland LEADER;
  • Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent Granted;
  • Community Asset Transfer to Highland Council for Bettyhill Cafe and a portion of land in the graveyard extension approved;
  • SSE Strathy Community Fund £35,000 granted;
  • The National Lottery Heritage Fund grants support towards an application for £650,000;
  • Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund awards the project £650,000;
  • Abound Design and Interpretation appointed as exhibition designers;
  • £150,000 awarded from SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund;
  • Developed design produced for museum interpretation;
  • Stage II application to National Lottery Heritage Fund submitted;
  • November 2020 another £110,000 grant funding secured.

How can you help?

If you’d like to contribute to our fundraising appeal you can do so via our Total Giving page (linked to the right) or why not send us a message of support which we can show to potential funders. For more ways to get involved visit our Support us page.