Highlands & Islands

Face lift: Inside Stornoway's revamped Lews Castle

Images have been released showing new and revamped areas of Lews Castle in Stornoway on Lewis.

The 19th Century property, which has been closed for 25 years, is to be opened as a museum and archive in October.

Image copyright David Maclennan/Geograph

Lews Castle was constructed in 1847 for James Matheson, who made his fortune from the opium trade. Opium exported from China and India was often mixed with tobacco by smokers.

William Lever, whose family business went on to become food and household products brand Unilever, owned the castle from 1918 to 1923.

He installed central heating, electric lighting and internal telephones.

Image copyright Handout
Image copyright Handout

Mr Lever also had the ballroom extended to accommodate his parties.

The ballroom, including its ceiling, and the Morning Room are among the historic parts of the former stately home that have been restored.

Image copyright Handout

Led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the £13.5m project involves funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, the Scottish government, European Regional Development Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Gaelic language organisation Bord na Gaidhlig.

The new museum will use Gaelic as its first language, and depict island life.

Image copyright Handout

Harris Tweed, a fabric hand-woven on the Western Isles, has been used for upholstery in the museum and archive.

Image copyright Handout
Image copyright Handout

A new glass-walled gallery, glass-roofed courtyard cafe and a special exhibition gallery have been constructed.

Work to fit out the property is expected to start early next month.

Permanent displays will include six of the world famous 12th Century Lewis Chessmen ivory chess pieces.

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