Comunn Eachdraidh Nis has announced today (Friday March 2) that renovation works at Sgoil Chrois are due to start in mid-March.
Funding has been sourced from a wide range of organisations to enable this £1m project to proceed. Following a public procurement process towards the end of 2017, the successful tenderer contractor, Neil Mackay & Co, is due to move on site in the next two weeks.
Annie Macsween, chairperson of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, said: “The renovation of these buildings has been a goal since the organisation relocated to the former Cross Primary School in 2011.
"Comunn Eachdraidh Nis has a strong track-record and reputation for delivering innovative projects over many years. It is a great example of what can be achieved when a community works together to develop a facility designed to benefit themselves and visitors to the area.”
The project will mean some disruption to normal services at Sgoil Chrois for the remainder of the year. The museum will close for the whole of the construction stage.
However, it is intended that the archive, café and gift shop will continue to operate during the spring and summer periods, with changes to site access and parking in agreement with the contractor.
There may be restrictions on capacity at certain times during the height of the summer season and patrons should monitor updates in Fios and on Facebook during this period, in particular.
Initial phases of works will focus on bringing the former schoolhouse back into use as a history archive and office, plus converting the former canteen into a museum store and workshop. Access and parking will be restricted to the south side of the site at this point. Later stages will involve expanding the museum and remodelling the café and kitchen facilities, with a function room and exhibition area also created in the former school.
Assembling the funding package has been a challenging process with around a dozen different parties involved. Locally, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, Western Isles Development Trust and the Outer Hebrides LEADER Programme have been vital partners for funding and project support.
Other key funding partners include Scottish Government, Museums Galleries Scotland, TESCO Bags of Help, the Garfield Weston Foundation and The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation. Comunn Eachdraidh Nis has contributed some of its own funds and launched an innovative fund-raising scheme for residents and businesses to purchase a brick in a legacy wall in the new entrance area.
Comunn Eachdraidh Nis is grateful to the various parties who have supported the project to date and looks forward to establishing good working relationships with key suppliers in the months ahead whilst construction is underway.
Ruairidh Moir, architect for the project said: "It has been a great privilege to be involved in this very exciting and transformative project for Comunn Eachdraidh Nis. We feel that the project as envisaged will be of huge benefit to the wider community, and also secure the former Sgoil Chrois building for future generations."
If you would like regular updates on the project, CEN has set up a Facebook page where you can follow progress. Find us on Facebook at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Vision 2020.