Small communities in the North West of Scotland can struggle to survive. Achiltibuie, a beautiful but remote village in Wester Ross, is no exception. In recent years, it has lost a number of its staple businesses. But this is a resilient community. It saved the “Hydroponicum”, now called the Achiltibuie Garden and now it’s determined to take over the old Smokehouse and bring it back into use. The The smokehouse used to produce smoked fish and meat before its previous owner, Summer Isles Food, closed it down and moved its business to Alness, in Easter Ross, last summer.
The premises are currently up for sale and the Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) is well on its way to buying it. It already has £104,500 towards the £110,000 asking price and only needs to raise the remaining £5,500. Much of the money has come from a grant, worth £160,700, from the Scottish Land Fund. This however only covered part of the purchase price — the rest was intended to cover the cost of a project officer to drive forward development of the project for the first two years. This involves refurbishing and developing the building, along with support for establishing other businesses on the premises.
Over many years the smokehouse was a central pillar of the local economy. On its website, CCDC explain that local people are convinced that, following the departure of Summer Isles Foods, “it can regain that important role with the help of the community. There have been lots of ideas coming for the development of new and existing businesses in the building, bringing the prospect of steady local employment once more – we just need to complete the purchase!
“We have already had some generous people come forward with spontaneous donations towards the funds we need. CCDC would now like to extend an opportunity to everyone who would like to make a contribution to this new, challenging and exciting chapter in the life of the Coigach community by making a small (or large of course…!) financial contribution to it. We need to complete the purchase by mid-March, so unfortunately we don’t have time to organise any big fund-raising events.”
The company add that they will “devise a creative way to acknowledge donors when the building is refurbished”.