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Community / Weather window will allow museum roof to be fixed

WORK to re-roof Shetland Croft House Museum in Dunrossness should begin shortly when the “weather improves”.

The condition of the thatched roof on the mid-19th century traditional building was criticised by its retired part-time custodian Christine Elizabeth Manson on Facebook.

She posted photos of the thatched roof in dilapidated and, in parts, semi-collapsed state.

Manson said: “After being part-time custodian of the croft house museum for over 20 years, now retired, it saddens me to see it in such a bad state of repair! I’m posting these photos to try and make people and the powers that be aware, because if something is not done very soon there won’t be a Crofthouse Museum!”

Laurence Smith at work on the roof on a previous occasion. Photo: Steven Christie

She added that it was the building itself, which is open as a tourist attraction Tuesday to Sunday, rather than the replaceable artefacts inside that was of most historic significance.

She also called on the building’s operators, Shetland Museum and Archives, to restore the old house to its former glory before the 50th anniversary of its opening as a tourist draw in August 2021.

Shetland museum resident thatching expert Laurence Smith said that this winter’s poor weather and a shortage of suitable thatch had deprived the workmen of the chance to repair the croft house roof.

Smith said: “We need the minimum of three or four boys for a couple of days and this winter we have just not had two good days on the trot. We have the boys and we just look at the forecast on Sunday and see if we can get a two-day weather window through the week and that’s just not happened this last winter.”

The roof collapsing on an outhouse. Photo: Christine Manson.

Smith and his team last year re-thatched Easthouse croft heritage centre which belongs to the Burra History Group. Along with the croft house museum, it is believed to be one of only two used thatched buildings in Shetland.

Easthouse first came to fame in 2003 when it featured in the BBC’s Restoration programme, when its long-derelict thatched roof was repaired. It was built in the 1830s and was occupied until the 1980s.