Sumburgh Head Project

The Project to develop Sumburgh Head into a visitor centre was first mooted at a meeting to discuss development opportunities in the South Mainland of Shetland.  The 'Ness 2000 Conference' outcomes included an agreement to create a critical mass of tourist attractions in the South Mainland of the islands, focussing on the rich heritage of the area.

With the support of the local community and statutory bodies, Shetland Amenity Trust subsequently acquired the site at Sumburgh Head, which was in private ownership, with a view to develop it as a visitor attraction. The Trust secured title to the property in 2003.

Following acquisition, the Trust commissioned Groves-Raines Architects to produce a Feasibility Study and proposals for the conservation and adaptive re-use of Sumburgh. These proposals were published in November 2004. The site was already well known for its impressive seabird colonies and fantastic ‘up close and personal’ access to Puffins, but there was a clear opportunity to develop other interpretive threads to fully explain the significance of Sumburgh Head across the centuries.

By 2008 funding was in place to develop the project a stage further, producing more definitive design proposals along with a detailed business plan that clearly demonstrated the viability of the project.  Shetland Amenity Trust put in place a Project Team comprising members of Trust staff, along with representatives from their project partners and funders, including: Shetland Islands Council, RSPB Scotland, and Scottish Natural Heritage.  Shetland Amenity Trust appointed their Architectural Heritage Project Officer as Project Manager, and Groves-Raines Architects were appointed as Lead Consultants to develop the architectural designs.  The full Lead Consultancy Team also included: Moreham and Brotchie Ltd as Quantity Surveyors; Irons Foulner as M&E Engineers; D Narro and Partners as Civil Engineers; and D Adamson and Partners as CDM Coordinator.  In parallell with progressing the architectural works, an exercise led by John Veverka Design, engaged with Trust staff, project partners and members of the community to establish the intepretive themes and stories to be told at Sumburgh Head.  The consortium of Bogacki Design and Leach Colour Ltd were then appointed as design and build contractors for the interpretive works.

Full funding for the project, and permission to proceed, was achieved by May 2010 and the design teams were given the go-ahead to proceed with final detailed designs; obtain statutory consents (such as planning permissions, listed building consent and building warrants) and to prepare the detailed documentation required to engage a Main Contractor to manage and deliver the on-site construction work.  Following a full tender process, Corramore Construction Ltd were awarded the contract.  Construction work started on site in May 2012 and was completed on schedule and within budget in April 2014.  Access to the nature reserve was maintaned throughout the construction work.

On 3rd June 2014, the restored Lighthouse Buildings were officially opened to the public by HRH The Princess Royal in her capacity as Patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board.