AFTER 15 years of dedication and hard work The Belmont Trust celebrated the completed refurbishment of Belmont House, in Unst, described as “the most ambitious classical house in the northern isles”.
Around 70 invited guests turned out on Saturday to witness the official opening by the chairman of the National Trust for Scotland, Sir Kenneth Calman.
Belmont House is now a self-catering holiday home, but also available for weddings, community events and creative workshops. The first guests moved in on Saturday afternoon.
Recalling the highs and low of years of fundraising and then the painstaking refurbishment of the A-listed Georgian country house, trust chairman John Scott thanked everybody who had given money and time to realise the ambitious project.
“We all had faith that we could do it, but it took courage to keep going and saying ‘yes’ we can do this. It is a tribute to the community, that this could have been achieved against all the odds,” he said.
The Belmont Trust was founded in 1996 to buy the derelict house from its Edinburgh owner for just £5.
More than £1 million later, the house is back to its former glory overlooking the south entrance of Bluemull Sound.
Opening the building, Sir Kenneth praised the community who had done “a remarkable job” by “showing what could be done”, adding that Belmont was special “not just for Shetland”.
Built in 1775 by Unst landowner Thomas Mouat, the house fell into disrepair during the 20th century, and was “just about to fall down”, when the Belmont Trust stepped in to rescue it.
This was done in three phases with the main contractor being the Shetland Amenity Trust and its highly skilled workforce.
Historic Scotland, one of the main funders of the restoration, insisted on techniques and materials contemporary to the 18th century.
A total of 23 different agencies and private individuals have sponsored the restoration. Many more have given time as volunteers to make the project happen.
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