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History / Brough Lodge to be restored by European heritage organisation

The building was bought for £30,000

FETLAR’s Brough Lodge is set to be restored by a European organisation which specialises in working with historic buildings.

The early 19th Century laird’s mansion is now off the market, having gone up for sale last year.

It had an asking price in excess of £30,000 – but its owners Brough Lodge Trust was seeking a “philanthropic investor” to invest millions to restore the historic building.

One idea was that a revamped Brough Lodge could play host to accommodation, a dining room and courses in areas such as textiles – but it appears the primary aim of new owner European Heritage Project is to give the property an authentic restoration.

Photo: Brough Lodge Trust

The European Heritage Project is led by Professor Dr Peter Löw, and it will be taking on a British property for the first time.

Löw said: “Preserving the endangered European heritage is the major aim of our initiative. Under this requirement, we have been able to restore a considerable number of most important monuments like castles, monasteries, palaces or manors all over Europe and beyond. More than ten monuments have already been classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“Brough Lodge fits very well in this list of very important sites, as it is not only one of the most northern examples of neogothic architecture in Europe but also an important sample of medieval or premedieval culture.

“Restoring these premises should therefore also contribute to a better understanding of life in earlier times on the northern edges of Europe.”

Pierre Cambillard, who chairs the Brough Lodge Trust, said: “From the outset, trustees have seen restoration of the building as a way of turning what many have understandably seen as a historical liability into a positive asset for an island that has faced many challenges.

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“We always believed that a better future for the building, and for Fetlar, was possible. Along the way, we examined several options, one of which was a ‘knitwear retreat’ aimed at catering to the international community of textile enthusiasts.

“And as many people will know, that led us to set up Shetland PeerieMakkers, which brought back hand-knitting tuition to Shetland primary schools. The proceeds from the sale will help support Shetland PeerieMakkers in the years ahead.”

Brough Lodge Trust treasurer Drew Ratter said: “Detailed plans will be drawn up in due course, but we understand that the focus will be on an authentic restoration of the property. The restored Lodge will provide an exceptional standard of accommodation and a real boost to the Fetlar economy and the Shetland economy.

“Pierre always had a hope of a philanthropist with real vision picking up the project from us. I would have been willing to settle for something less than this ideal, but to all our delight, Pierre has been proven right. All credit to him.”

The team wished to thank Shetland Community Benefit Fund via Fetlar Community Council, NorDan Windows and CASE Shetland for financial support.

Constructed by Arthur Nicolson in 1825, Brough Lodge was designed to echo architectural styles which he had admired on his travels in countries including France, Switzerland and Italy. Adjacent to the lodge is the site of an Iron Age broch.

The building has been unoccupied since the 1980s, but extensive repairs were undertaken seven years ago, with financial and practical help from Historic Environment Scotland, Shetland Amenity Trust, Shetland Islands Council and others.

More recently, Fetlar Community Council has actively supported efforts to give the property a new life, assisting with the cost of feasibility studies.

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