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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 was submitted to Highland Council for Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent. 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 £2.3m and we have secured £1.9m by the end of May 2021. We have a way to go but we are waiting for the outcome of a few more funds. However, we still have a small funding gap due to increased costs.

  • 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 on 30th and 29th May 2019 respectively;
  • 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 July 2020;
  • November 2020 £80,000 grant funding secured from Dounreay towards the capital building works;
  • November 2020 £30,000 from Caithness and North Sutherland Fund towards interpretation costs;
  • December 2020 National Lottery Heritage Fund awards the project £650,000;
  • December Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS) awards £71,631 towards RIBA Stage 4;
  • January 2021 Crowd Funding secures generous donations bringing the refurbishment appeal to £22,381;
  • Preliminary survey’s completed to support Building Warrant;
  • MGS awards £33,902 towards archaeological survey and other pre-development costs;
  • Building Warrant approved 19th May;
  • June 2021 Highlands and Islands Enterprise awards £80,000;
  • July 2021 £30,000 pledged by a private trust;
  • July 2021 £2.14m of £2.33m funding secured for capital building and 3 year activity programme.

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.

Thank you to our generous funders!


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