THE first stage of building works on the new extended pier centre at An Laimhrig are due to start within weeks.
It is an exciting time as the project, which has been four years in the planning, finally begins to take shape.
This first phase will see the current tearoom store shed demolished, extensive groundworks and servicing completed in preparation for phase two, and the construction of a new toilet and shower block. Additionally, work will begin on the large green shed behind Eigg Adventures which will become a plant room servicing the new building.
The provision of new toilet and shower facilities will be a huge benefit to visitors as it will allow pod guests and wild campers access to hot water, toilets, a drying room and, in the near future, laundry facilities.
Working with architects WT Architecture, Morham & Brotchie quantity surveyors, structural engineers David Narro Associates, contractors Compass and Harley Haddow, and with project management help from Fiona Begg, the Trust is overseeing this initial stage of the development which should be completed by March 2021.
Eigg Trading own and manage the existing An Laimhrig and surrounding area, and will be the organisation delivering the project on behalf of Eigg’s Community and IEHT.
As the focal point of the island, the pier has always been a hive of activity. From the pre-buyout days when it consisted of simply a small tearoom and a separate craft shop, housed in two square buildings with battlements to the current building which was completed in 1998.
The current An Laimhrig complex was the first project completed by the Trust following the buyout and saw the replacement of the tearoom and craft shop buildings plus new premises for the island’s shop and post office which had until then been the corrugated iron building in the middle of the island.
Along with the new building, the completion of the pier saw a more piecemeal development of the entire area with new cattle pens constructed, the green storage shed erected and the installation of two large fuel tanks with the intention of creating an island diesel and kerosene business.
The new building included office space for the Trust as well as a waiting room and has served the island well in the intervening years.
However, the completion of the new pier project in 2004 allied with a more general increase in visitor numbers has seen the current building begin to struggle to cope. Indeed, with a population that has now grown to around 110, more space is needed to simply meet islanders’ shopping and leisure needs.
A new, larger shop will be of great benefit to residents while the extended tearoom – complete with a separate bar area – will allow for increased numbers of tourists to enjoy island hospitality while also catering to residents in the summer and winter months.
The Trust are hugely grateful to the funders who have made this possible: Highlands and Island Enterprise, Highland Council, the Scottish Government, Visit Scotland, Centrica Energy for Tomorrow, SSE Highland Sustainable Energy Fund, and the National Lottery Community Fund.