Former Fort William school building receives £270k grant for repairs
Issued by Historic Environment Scotland
Following years of uncertainty over the building’s future, the former senior secondary school on Achintore Road in Fort William has been awarded a grant of £269,750 for its repair and conversion into a civic centre for the town, and office space for Highland Council staff.
The Category B listed building was built around 1876 and saw thousands of peoples pass through its doors in over 100 years of active use. However the building has ceased to be used as a school for a number of years and has faced calls for demolition since 1996. The building was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register the following year and it’s thanks to years of constructive partnership working between the Highland Council and Historic Scotland (Historic Environment Scotland’s predecessor) that a suitable reuse has now been found.
The Highland Council’s Leader of the Lochaber Area, Councillor Thomas MacLennan said: “I am absolutely delighted that Historic Environment Scotland is supporting the refurbishment of Old Achintore Secondary School. The building is an important part of our local history and we look forward to working closely with Historic Environment Scotland to ensure the renovation of the building is delivered to a high quality and I know my fellow Ward members will join me in welcoming this news.”
The building is one of five recipients of Historic Environment Scotland’s Building Repair Grants scheme, the latest round of which commits over £1.7 million of grant funding into projects to restore historic building across Scotland.
Jane Ryder OBE, Chair of Historic Environment Scotland said: “As the new lead body in Scotland’s historic environment, one of our key drivers is to facilitate and enable others to help protect the country’s built heritage. These five grant recipients are a fine example of that collaboration working in practice, where the building owners are drawing on finance and expertise from us, as well as working with partners - which usually include local authorities, community groups, and other investment bodies - in order to bring these important historic buildings back into reuse.
“The scheme isn’t just about repairing old buildings which have fallen into disrepair though: the end use of each of these projects is something which will greatly benefit the communities living around it. Not only directly by using the buildings for their new purpose, whether that be leisure, business, education or the arts, but by the impact which high-quality conservation and restoration works can have in the regeneration of an area.”
Martin Fairley, Head of Investment, Historic Environment Scotland said: “These are five great projects which we only too happy to be given the opportunity to contribute to. In most cases it takes a great deal of time, effort, and working together constructively just to get to this stage - and that’s before the restoration and repair work even begins. There is no doubt that these efforts are ultimately well worth it, as the end result will be the restoration of six very important historic buildings, not to mention a variety of initiatives which will be of enormous benefit to the communities they serve for many years to come.”
Historic Environment Scotland is the new lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment. The organisation is a Non Departmental Public Body and a registered Scottish Charity which incorporates and will build on the strengths and expertise of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) who have been managing and recording the historic environment for over a century.