Sunday, 1 June 2008

Lews Castle

Lews Castle occupies a commanding position overlooking Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Built as a mansion for Sir James Matheson in the mid 19th century it incorporated part of an earlier building on the site - Seaforth Lodge, built in 1680 by the MacKenzies of Kintail who had acquired the island of Lewis in 1610.

Lews Castle was also owned by Lord Leverhulme, who gifted it to the local community in 1923. From the early 1950's until 1989 the Castle served as a Technical College and school. It was then abandoned following the discovery of structural defects.

Following a detailed appraisal of over 25 potential future uses, a feasibility study has concluded that the most viable option for Lews Castle is a mixed-use development. The proposed uses are a new Museum nan Eilean and a high quality hotel with function suites, utilising different parts of the building. The Comhairle would run the museum and the hotel and function facilities would be leased to a private operator . The combination of public and commercial use is critical to the viability of the overall scheme. Whether the project will ever get off the ground is another matter…

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