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SCALPAY SCHOOL: ISLE OF SCALPAY

Isle of Scalpay is one of the eleven inhabited islands within the Western Isles. The island extends to 702 hectares; it is primarily low-lying peatland with large areas of surface water with a highest point of 104 metres. The island has an extensive rugged coastline with several uninhabited islands to the south and west. 

Scalpay has traditionally relied on fishing and fish farming for its income and there is still an active fleet of small boats. As in most rural communities, crofting and weaving also supplemented the incomes of the inhabitants. The Isle of Scalpay has an award winning bistro celebrating seafood and the strong tourism industry. Internet connection and work from home have allowed a transition in jobs. Connectivity is now at the fore as an economic driver.  

  

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Scalpay has one of the earliest lighthouses in Scotland and a walk has been created to view both it, and the magnificent scenery and marine views. The lighthouse is called Eileen Glas and was completed in 1789 and was the first project by the newly formed Northern Lighthouse Trust. The Trust was formed by an act of Parliament in 1786. The lighthouse was automated in 1978.  

One significant piece of history that involves the island, is that Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, sought refuge on Scalpay. He was fleeing after the battle of Culloden in 1746. Local tradition tells that he hid in a cave at the secluded Lag an Laire where there is a plaque to commemorate this which is adjacent to the site 

Scalpay School closed in June 2012 due to the falling number of school pupils. Harris Development Limited (HDL) began the process of identifying the best future for the Scalpay School and the surrounding community. They looked at different options and following consultation with the community the preferred option emerged that there is a pressing need in Scalpay for further affordable housing  therefore the plans to develop the former School building to be converted to 3 x 1 bed + 1 x 2 bed + 1 x 3 bed, and that the three community buildings are to converted to different uses: a community workshop, additional residential accommodation, and community business incubation with a commercial kitchen emerged as the preferred option. 

Varied accommodation options will provide a resilient offering to those in need, giving a home for different households meaning the finished development will be appealing to a broad mixture of  people. For the community buildings, the combination of uses will again give the site the best chance of meeting the wide variety of needs of the community - for relaxation, for accommodation, and support for new and small businesses. 

Watch this space for updates on the project. 

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