Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

St Kilda Visitor Centre still dragging on

Low glass buildingWhile the largely inaccessible archipelago of St Kilda could probably benefit from the presence of a nearby visitor centre, apart from the publicity value of raising its profile in the media, it doesn’t seem to be gaining much from the sad saga of the war that broke out over the proposals made for siting such a centre.

The location of the islands, and their unique environment, rules them out as the setting for any visitor centre, so any such facility necessarily has to be located nearby, and three potential sites in the Western Isles competed for the honour.

I’m not going into the individual details – for one, the winner of the competition was selected by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) years ago (back in 2009), and for two, when I commented on the result… I was put in my place and told I was not a position to judge (strangely, by the losers).

Reminds me of  the attitude of the winner who didn’t actually get to implement their mad and unwanted plan to rebuild George Square.

However, that’s another story altogether.

The St Kilda Visitor Centre is back in the news.

Four years (and more if you wind the clock back to the initial proposal) have passed, and not a thing has really happened.

Instead of getting on with the job, all that has been done is to waste time and money over a fight that was lost before it started, since the decision was made.

The chances of change – to an outsider “not in a position to judge” – were low to nil. And if you read the list of gripes offered by the losers, those chances frankly moved even closer to nil.

New company to lead St Kilda project

Described in the BBC’s news article about the project, Ionad Hiort Ltd has been launched to develop the centre.

The new company has been registered as a charity, and takes over from Buidheann Leasachaidh Ionad Hiort, a local voluntary group which was looking after the project, and which has now been wound up.

Presumably they wish to leave behind the sad history of this project to date, and get on with the job of progressing the Visitor Centre on Mangersta, which was selected as the best option way back in 2009. However, as noted above, supporters of sites at Cleitreval in North Uist and Leverburgh in Harris claimed the criteria used to gauge the bids for the centre was changed, but a multi-agency body set up to oversee the selection process – the St Kilda Centre Working Group – said the criteria followed by those responsible for the decision – Jura Consultants – were “fair”. After considering  complaints from the Cleitreval and Leverburgh groups, the working group said it believed the feasibility study process was “fair and transparent” and that there was no justification to halt the process or re-score the submissions, and went on to praise the quality of each of the bids.

Via New company to lead St Kilda project

For current news on the project, see:

St Kilda Centre Development Group — Buidheann Leasachaidh Ionad Hiort

(While the opening part of this post is actually – in light of the news that the project is now apparently progressing – written with a lightly “Tongue-in-cheek” attitude in mind, I did do it deliberately to illustrate how easy it is to waste time and effort where some sort of war or dispute breaks out, and the focus moves from the project to the war. I hope the focus has indeed now moved to the project, and that the war is history.)


March 25, 2013 - Posted by | council | , ,


  1. So the working group said it believed the feasibility study process was “fair and transparent” and there was no justification to halt the process or re-score the submissions.
    Not surprising since it appears one of the working group members had close family connections with Mangersta – in fact his mother came from Mangersta.
    A conflict of interest and is that is fair and transparent?
    Perhaps you may wish to check this out for yourself and you may be interested in who holds a senior position within UNESCO Scotland and who is an advisor to the new company?
    yes the very same person – you just couldn’t make it up
    So Mangersta it is then- democracy/ fairness?


    Comment by ochone ochone | December 23, 2013

  2. Do you have a link to the current status please?

    I have not been able to keep up to date with developments, and only saw one brief news item a few weeks ago.


    Comment by Apollo | December 23, 2013



    Comment by ochone ochone | December 28, 2013

  4. ochone ochone is something we used to say in our family. It would be interesting to know what your name is and where you come from


    Comment by catherine leckie-palmer nee mcgregor | December 29, 2013

  5. Doomed from the outset, beset by the usual island corruption (allegations), islanders know the truth of this shambolic mess, curse it, and lament the waste of money/the indignities heaped on St Kildans memory.


    Comment by na hearadh | October 7, 2014

  6. Thanks for reminding me about this – although I’m disappointed to see that it’s yet another project that’s apparently led by a noisy few who say there’s a demand for their pet project, but which the masses fail to support.

    It’s a shame that watching many projects or demands made by such groups are able to absorb time, effort, resources, and money, all of which could perhaps be better used on more popular projects for which there is a wider and less specialised demand, and are not the ‘Vanity Projects’ of an influential few who can lobby and gain key support for schemes that seem to be unable to gain wide support.

    It’s a shame, as I don’t think anyone would object to some sort of centre, but it would be better to start small, attract interest and gain visitors, and build on that to perhaps end up with the facility that (to an outside observer) is wildly ambitious.

    I’ve watched a number of similar projects start and stall repeatedly, claiming noble aims and gaining media coverage, but then failing to materialise, and even seeing those behind them falling out, or departing acrimoniously. The latter can sound the death knell of the whole idea, as they set up competing projects, meaning that the resources that might have supported a single less ambitious project are spread over two or more, almost inevitably dooming them all from the start.


    Comment by Apollo | October 7, 2014

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