Work is set to start next month on a major project to restore and regenerate the historic Lews Castle Grounds in Stornoway.

A partnership involving the Stornoway Trust, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the National Lottery and Historic Environment Scotland, will oversee investment of over £5 million in the much-loved public park over the next few years.

Building and civil works contracts with a total value of over £3.6 million have been awarded to two island based contractors by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in partnership the Stornoway Trust.

Neil Mackay & Co will undertake comprehensive repairs to the Porters Lodge, the Category A-listed Boatman’s House and the adjacent Sea Wall.  Other important features, including the Castle’s bastion wall, steps and terrace path will also be repaired and restored to their original form.

Breedon Hebrides will undertake a range of civil works, including drainage works in the former private gardens and the Castle Green, extensive renovation of paths in the core area of the grounds and environmental improvements in key areas. 

The popular Woodlands Centre will benefit from a new outdoor terrace and children’s play area.

The works are scheduled for completion by summer 2020.

Following on from the construction works, an extensive programme of landscape planting and restoration will be undertaken by the Stornoway Trust under the direction of a Head Gardener – a new National Lottery funded post to be appointed as a key part of the project.

Norman A Maciver Chairman of the Stornoway Trust and the joint Project Board with the Comhairle said: ‘It is great news that after so many years we are finally over the line and are now in a position to commence the project to enhance the environs around the Castle.  I would like to congratulate all the officers who have managed to get this project off the ground.’

Roddie Mackay, Comhairle Leader said: ‘The Castle Grounds are a hugely important asset for our community and this project will deliver significant and much needed improvements that will complement the restored Lews Castle.  The Comhairle and the Trust have very worked closely with our funding partners to reach this point and I’m sure the community will be delighted to see work finally starting.’

Acting Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Scotland, Riona McMorrow, said:‘Our parks, and the historic features in them, are a wonderful legacy from our ancestors. They are enjoyed by all ages and are a community’s green space in which to relax away from the pressures of daily life. 

"We’re delighted that, thanks to funds raised through the National Lottery, work is starting to revitalise the only historic park in the Outer Hebrides for all to enjoy.’

The Lews Castle Grounds Regeneration Project is a partnership initiative by the Stornoway Trust and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with Lottery funding under the Parks for People Programme and grant from Historic Environment Scotland.

The new development follows a 5-year £19.5 million restoration project led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, for Lews Castle which is now a major attraction for visitors as well as local residents with a new museum and archive complemented by hospitality, function suites and visitor accommodation.

The Castle Green is the setting for the Hebridean Celtic Festival which attracts thousands of visitors to Stornoway and the islands each summer.  Works in the vicinity of the site will be suspended during the 2019 event from 17-20 July.