Cold War surveillance post opened to public through crowdfunding

VISITORS to the UK's most north-westerly point could soon be sitting down to a cup of tea at a former Cold War surveillance station while listening to the sound of Britain's only native orca pod thanks to a crowdfunding venture.

Former MoD Cold War station at Gallan Head

Gallan Head Community Trust recently took ownership of the disused Cold War listening post at Gallan Head on Lewis, buying the land from the Ministry of Defence for £110,000.

Funding came from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Land Fund, Big Lottery and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

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Gallan Head is a haven for ornithologists, historians and archaeologists. With the land being inaccessible to the public for 65 years, it will now open in the spring to allow wider access.

Gallan Head

HIE is helping to set up a pilot project, which aims to encourage community groups to use crowdfunding to raise money for community-led projects.

Killer Whales are often sighted in the area and it is hoped crowdfunding will help the group to raise the final £12,500 it needs to convert Gallan Head into a visitor centre and café which will feature a hydrophone, allowing visitors to listen to the whales and other marine life in the rich waters off the coast of Lewis.

Jane Macintosh, Head of Strengthening Communities, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: “Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way to tap into public support for community projects,particularly where projects return a benefit to investors and the general public.

“Gallan Head Community Trust’s plan for the area will make accessible, for maximum public enjoyment, land which was previous privately owned and which will showcase the wonderful natural and marine environment.

Gallan Head

“We are delighted to support this crowdfunding process and hope that other groups will be able to learn from the Gallan Head experience.”

Martin Hayes, Gallan Head Community Trust project manager, added said: “We are grateful for the continued support we have received from HIE.

“The Trust is doing all it can to share the delights of Gallan Head. We have been learning the art of crowdfunding and we are confident that our campaign will really resonate with people and will help us reach our target very quickly. There are some great “perks” so please take a look.”

To find out more about the community’s plans for Gallan Head, and to take part in the crowdfunding campaign, visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/whales-and-tea/