Lighting up Sumburgh Head

Sumburgh Head, Lighthouse, Shetland

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve is nearing completion of a £5.4 million renovation project.

The site is one of the most accessible sea bird colonies in the UK, and a popular outdoor attraction in Shetland which attracts 25,000 to 30,000 visitors each year. Located at the most southern point of mainland Shetland, where the Atlantic meets the North Sea, the development project has entailed extensive restoration to the existing buildings. New facilities have been created along with an expansion of the interpretive material available on-site for visitors.

The world class facility will enable visitors to discover the fascinating stories behind the history of the oldest Stevenson designed Shetland lighthouses, its role in World War II and the area’s rich marine life and natural heritage. Construction firm Corramore started work on the site in May 2012 and are on schedule for completion in spring 2014, with an official opening ceremony arranged for June 2014.

This project has been funded through numerous different funding streams including The Scottish Rural Development Programme, The European Regional Development Fund, The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Historic Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Natural Heritage, The Wolfson Foundation, Shetland Islands Council, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and The Shetland Amenity Trust .

Sumburgh Head, Lighthouse, Shetland

Corramore site manager Nigel McCluskey commented:

“It has been a really interesting build project that has a personality of its own, with great history that we are proud to be associated with and have liaised closely with the extended team to provide the highest standards through, not just restoration but improvements using modern technology and energy sources although the integrity of the Stevenson building has been kept.”

Corramore have extended the lower car park providing enhanced access for bus tours and more parking facilities for cars. The Muckle Roe Light, itself a former minor lighthouse built in 1897, has been erected as a welcoming beacon and information kiosk allowing visitors to be able to ask for and purchase tickets to some of the paid attractions.

Sumburgh Head, Lighthouse, Shetland

Sumburgh Head, is the location for the RSPB organisation’s main office in Shetland. The office accommodation and facilities have been improved and extended during the redevelopment of the site, with RSPB staff moving to a new space in what was the self-catering accommodation block. In addition to the new office space, bunk accommodation has been provided for RSPB volunteer opportunities, during peak season.

A new three bedroom, luxury self-catering accommodation facility for up to five guests will also be available. This has been empathetically restored to an extremely high standard, returning the building to its original layout and level of prestige. Improvements to the site properties included renewing all the original Stevenson lead roofs, and replacing other roofs with asphalt roofing treated with a special heat resistant coating. The sandstone chimneys have been restored where possible and new matching chimneys installed by skilled stonemasons.

The structural extensive work included the replacement of flooring with a new underfloor heating system, fed by geothermal heat pumps which are bored 200 metres down into the ground, circulating water to use as a natural heat source. The use of solar panels, also provides an environmentally responsible approach to energy use.

Sumburgh Head, Lighthouse, Shetland

The Education Centre is the only new build component of the project and has been fitted with impressive panoramic curved glass windows affording stunning views, as well as wood cladding throughout the interior, with contemporary lighting.

The main contractors on the project are Corramore Construction Ltd and the architects are Groves Raines Architects Ltd, who have a considerable reputation for the conservation and regeneration of existing buildings. The onsite signage and facility design was completed by creative company Bogacki Design who took charge of all aspects of branding, exhibition and interpretive design.

Sumburgh Head, Lighthouse, Shetland

For more information about the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve visit or or contact The Shetland Amenity Trust on 01595 694688.

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