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HIE supports partnership development of Lews Castle

21 November 2011

A £1million funding package has been approved towards the redevelopment of a prominent Lewis landmark - Lews Castle. The 17th Century castle overlooking Stornoway is set to be revived with the help of funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Castle, currently owned by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, will be transformed into a new cultural and visitor destination standing at the gateway to the Outer Hebrides.

The £14.3 million project, part funded by a number of private and public sector partners, will create a new home for Museum nan Eilean and archive service for the Outer Hebrides. There will also be a high quality hotel development opportunity in part of the 17th Century castle.

The current museum is based in the centre of Stornoway and has limited room for expansion. The new museum to be built adjacent to Lews Castle will include four gallery spaces, a special gallery for temporary and touring exhibitions and a courtyard which will reveal surviving sections of the 17th Century Seaforth Lodge.

The new Archive Centre will hold and provide access to a range of historically important records held by the community and organisations including Stornoway Trust. This will allow for return to the islands of important records currently held at the National Archive for Scotland and elsewhere.

Archie MacDonald, HIE Innse Gall area manager, said: "We have worked with the Comhairle for a number of years to find a suitable option for the redevelopment of Lews Castle. We are delighted to now be playing a part in the revival of such an iconic and important location. The new centre will provide a hub for the local community and will also prove a huge attraction to national and international visitors. The hotel development opportunity is itself unique and we look forward to seeing Lews Castle returned to its former glory as the heart of the Outer Hebrides."

"HIE is delighted that our investment will help pave the way for the project to develop a cultural and visitor destination of national significance, and a gateway to the rich Gaelic heritage of the Outer Hebrides."

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