Origins of the Museum & the new project
Gairloch Heritage Museum opened in 1977 at Achtercairn Steading, to house the growing collection of artefacts donated by local people for which a permanent home was clearly needed. Our logo has always been (with different designs through the years) the fish symbol of the Pictish carved stone, the first of only two ever found on the west coast mainland. This remains one of the really special objects in the collection.
In 2009 we were one of the first cohort of independent Highland museums to achieve national accreditation, in recognition of our high standards in the delivery of museum services. We have always been an important visitor attraction for the area and been graded as 4* by VisitScotland since 2014.
The ‘new Museum’ project
However, as our lease was expiring, and our steading premises were becoming ever less suitable for both our collections and our visitors, we knew we had to find a ‘new home’. After ten years of fruitless searching we learned, in 2011, that Highland Council was going to relocate its Roads Depot. The semi-derelict building on the main road through Gairloch, which at first sight seemed a very unlikely prospect, turned out to be exactly what we needed – an historic Anti-aircraft Operations Room (AAOR), constructed during the early years of the Cold War (c.1952-3) to help defend the country against low-flying Russian planes carrying atomic bombs! Come to the Museum to discover its story …
Over the next six years, more than twenty public and private funders gave us grants towards the £2.4M cost of the conversion and an amazing £200,000 was raised by our local communities. As one donor wrote: “This project has transformed the ugliest and most neglected building in Gairloch into its greatest attraction.”