halligarth: the home of a naturalist
Options Appraisal (click to download)
Community feedback and consultation
Community consultation showing aspirational Site Plans
Public meeting on Unst to discuss phase 1 of the project - the woodland shelter and garden area.
Funding application submission
NTS outline their Vision and Masterplan to create a "Citizen Science" site in the Halligarth grounds. Click HERE to view.
Project Partners: National Trust for Scotland, Unst Partnership Ltd, Shetland Amenity Trust, the donor and the local Unst community.
The proposed £1.2m project will renovate and restore Halligarth house to the highest of standards. Using a contemporary interpretation interior, the renovation will provide the UK's most northerly islands with a visitor centre, resource library/learning centre, cafe, office space and outdoor picnic area. Accessibility to the house and woodland area is also going to be improved, with conservation at the forefront of planning.
Why Restore? Halligarth was established in 1832 by Dr Laurence Edmondston, a medical practicitioner and renowned ornithologist. Dr Edmondston compiled the first comprehensive list of bird species on Shetland and assisted in the observation of birds using the surrounding woodland to Halligarth. Laurence's son, Thomas, was a botanical prodigy by the age of 16 whilst his daughter Jessie helped publish her father's work to the world. Jessie became an avid writer, publishing nearly 150 works. The project takes its name from one of her books, "The Home of a Naturalist", which speaks of her unique life spent at Halligarth. Having been unoccupied for a number of years, the house has remained a beacon to birdwatchers who currently visit the site in an informal manner. This project aims to take advantage of a space where Unst heritage is overwhelmingly present, and develop a place for both the locals and visitors which epitomises the meaning behind Halligarth.
A recent public consultation was held between the Unst community and NTS where proposed floor plan and design were provided for local knowledge. Plans are currently classed as "aspirational" whilst the project awaits funding confirmation. With positive feedback and a detailed submission, this project has encouraging potential to gain traction moving into 2016.
No funding for the House renovation came through in 2016 but there is now a path around the Woods and some information about the Edmodston and Saxby families on information boards.
In 2017, the Shetland Amenity Trust put a Halligarth Project Team together, involving two Unst representatives. They were still hopeful of obtaining funding for the Project (March 2017).
Unfortunately, SAT and NTS were unable to agree on a long term management plan for the Halligarth Project. Neither was willing to take on the running costs of the completed project and so the funding to fully renovate Halligarth was not followed up. Halligarth was boarded up and a padlock put on the door to prevent entrance. Signage was posted up around the site to inform visitors to the woods about the history of the Edmondston and Saxby families and their interest in nature and the environment.
From 2018 -21 discussion took place between the NTS and UP directors on minor maintenance to the properties in the bequest. Grass cutting and wall maintenance contracts were agreed and undertaken by local contractors. A Thistle Camps group, led by Jon Downie, NTS, came up for a week in the summer of 2019 to tidy up paths and dykes around the site.
In April 2021, NTS produced a new tender document with a Vision and Masterplan to be examined by consultants. The intention is to create a "Citizen Science" site around the woods and the grassland immediately outside.
Unst Partnership Ltd.
All Rights Reserved. 2015.
All Rights Reserved. 2015.