Nouster Boat Store With Steps And Kelp Store Adjacent

Orkney community group plans new use for former boat store

Published: 02/09/2020

A community group on one of Orkney’s north isles is purchasing a former boat store to increase year-round tourism and provide arts-residencies for young people.

Nouster Boat Store With Steps And Kelp Store Adjacent
The Nouster Boat store with the stone steps and the Kelp Store is adjacent (credit: Jonathan Ford)

The Nouster Boat Store is situated on Papa Westray (known locally as Papay) and will become home for a new arts residency programme and the Bothy Museum, which is currently located at Holland Farm on the island.

Papay Development Trust has been awarded £31,458 funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to help it acquire and develop the Grade B Listed building.

The boat store is located next to the community owned Kelp Store, which was recently refurbished to create a heritage and arts centre owned and managed by Papay Development Trust. It provides a home for cultural events, the Papay archive, census information, archaeological reports and is used by the community.

Purchasing the Nouster Boat Store will enable the trust to expand the cultural centre, and develop a venue for new creative and heritage residencies. The move will provide additional space for museum displays and increase opportunities such as generating income from tourism and providing art and heritage residencies for creative people from outwith the island.  

Built in the 1700s, the Nouster Boat Store is currently owned by Holland Farm and has been in continuous use as a boat store for the farm’s lairds and owners on the island, and it will continue to provide a home for a number of local heritage boats.

The community seized the opportunity to buy the building when it became available, to allow it to expand its heritage and arts activities and offer new facilities to help attract a wide range of creative and young people to the isle.

After the island’s population fell to 54 in the late 1990s, the development trust was set-up to explore new ways to retain and attract new residents. Abandoned homes have been brought back to life, thereby attracting new residents who bolster the islands’ wider economy. Today, Papay has a population of around 80.

Paul Harrington, development manager at HIE, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from the current crisis. This is one of the fantastic projects being delivered by Papay Development Trust and we are really pleased to be supporting it. The trust has a strong track record of delivering successful projects and this one, as a natural extension of the Kelp Store, will provide many opportunities for the community and will encourage more people to visit and perhaps even relocate to the island. We wish them all the best with this venture.”

Jennifer Foley, community development manager for Papay Development Trust, is delighted with the support from HIE to acquire the Boat Store. She said: "Papay inspires creativity so this opportunity to restore a fine old Papay building for creative new use is very exciting, Thanks to HIE we can now begin to progress plans to refurbish the store as a base for island residencies with particular thought to encouraging younger creative folk and the island community to share skills, ideas, local history and creative inspiration."


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