A COMMUNITY-OWNED nineteenth-century mill on the Isle of Lewis has been awarded funding for its restoration.

Built in 1893, the Garrabost Mill was in commercial operation, milling barley and oatmeal for crofting communities until 1956 and was under the ownership of the Morrison family for more than a century.

The Garrabost Mill Trust, a volunteer committee, will manage the restoration plans to turn the site into a visitor attraction.

Trust chair Brian Chaplin said: “This mill is an important part of our local heritage. Our first priority is to safeguard the fabric of the building and technical studies have shown that it is basically in good order with some needs for re-roofing and woodworm treatment.

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“Secondly, we are very keen to engage with the community and encourage people of all ages to join the committee and help us deliver what could be a defining heritage project for Garrabost and the surrounding area.

“We as a committee are incredibly grateful to all our supporters and look to the future of the mill with optimism.”

Funding for the project comes from a recently approved grant of £95,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

This matches the £95,000 which was already pledged by local wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust (PST).

The objective of the restoration is to highlight the building as a demonstration mill, creating a social and cultural hub to reflect the crofting heritage of the area and provide a local visitor attraction.

Located just five miles from Stornoway, the restoration will allow for a unique insight into the building and its role within local crofting history.

HIE’s Natalie Campbell said: “This is a fantastic example of a community-led tourism project with an important crofting and cultural history.

“Restoration of the mill and outbuildings will transform it into a visitor attraction, which will help create jobs and safeguard a building with historic interest for future generations.

“We are really pleased to support this project, which will be run by a community where Gaelic is part of the everyday spoken word and we’re looking forward to seeing the project take shape.”

A survey of residents in the area indicated 70% support for creating the mill as a visitor attraction and it is hoped the development can create new opportunities for the area.

PST community consultant Alasdair Nicholson wrote the mill restoration feasibility study and was integral in sourcing funding for the project.

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He commented: “This is an exciting opportunity to create a new chapter in the history of the mill and be a focal point for the stories around the heritage of the area, including those unique to this part of the crofting community.

“Initially, the HIE and PST funding will cover costs including roof repairs to the mill and replacement roofs on the outbuildings, cleaning of outbuilding walls, restoration of the water wheel, access and improvements to the amenity.”