A £5.4 million project is currently underway in the Shetland Islands to provide Sumburgh Head with improved facilities.
The Sumburgh Head project comprises the erection of a new building, the refurbishment of existing lighthouse buildings and the expansion of interpretive material for visitors. Once work is complete on the project the site will benefit from new office space, an interpretation centre, an education room and high-quality accommodation for visitors.
The redevelopment project is being led by Shetland Amenity Trust, working in partnership with RSPB Scotland, and an extensive number of funders.
Project funders include: The Scottish Rural Development Programme; the European Regional Development Fund; The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF); Historic Scotland; Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE); and Scottish Natural Heritage. Funding is also being provided by the Wolfson Foundation; Shetlands Islands Council; The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Shetland Amenity Trust.
Leading organisation Shetland Amenity Trust sees its project partners and funders as a vital element to the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage at Sumburgh Head, which is an RSPB Scotland Bird Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. In addition, the organisation is also working with the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) – the General Lighthouse Authority for Scotland and the Isle of Man – who own and manage the light and tower at Sumburgh Head.
Work started on the Sumburgh Head project in May 2012. As education and lifelong learning is a key factor of the project the Education Centre is a brand new element to the site that will be used to increase knowledge and raise awareness of the natural and cultural heritage of Sumburgh Head.
The new centre will be used by school and visitor groups and with its floor-to-ceiling windows and exterior platform the Education Centre will provide the perfect place to see the awe inspiring views of the sea.
As the Education Centre is the only new build element on the project, the majority of the work at Sumburgh Head will involve careful refurbishment and restoration operations to improve and develop the existing site.
An existing accommodation block will be restored to its original layout, whilst a lighthouse design theme will be incorporated into the facility, along with the inclusion of modern finishes. Meanwhile, refurbishment work will be carried out on the radar station, alongside the provision of interpretive signage to provide visitors with a better understanding of how the site was used during World War II.
Office accommodation will also be improved and extended during the redevelopment work. Existing RSPB Scotland office facilities will be reworked to become the upper level of the Marine Life Centre, whilst provisions will be made for residential volunteer opportunities with RSPB Scotland during the summer months.
Additional work on the site will also be conducted to improve access roads and car parking, as well as visitor viewpoints.
Corramore Construction Ltd is the main contractor on the Sumburgh Head project, whilst BogackiDesign is involved with the branding, exhibition and interpretive design of the site.
Award-winning practice Groves Raines Architects Ltd is providing all architectural services on the project. In addition to the Sumburgh Head project, Shetland Amenity Trust has previously worked on a number of restoration projects with Groves Raines, including Hay’s Dock in Lerwick and Belmont House in Unst.
Sumburgh Head is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in Shetlands and regularly attracts between 25,000 and 30,000 visitors each year. The attraction offers visitors detailed insights into the history of both the site and the surrounding area. This is one of the best places in the UK for close up views of puffins amongst the thousands of sea birds which nest here, and the chance to spot dolphins, killer whales or Minke Whales.
The Sumburgh Head project is currently scheduled to reach completion in spring 2014.
For more information regarding The Sumburgh Head project please visit: www.sumburghhead.com.