Philanthropist sought to create £12m retreat on Scottish island

A philanthropist is being sought to create a £12 million artistic retreat on one of Scotland's most northerly islands.

Brough Lodge on Fetlar is on the market for £30,000, with trustees hoping the buyer will pursue their vision of creating a luxury retreat where guests can immerse themselves in the rich textile and knitting traditions of Shetland.

Trustees have appointed Edinburgh-based architects GRAS to draw up a grand design for the 19th-century building and surrounding properties, with an estimated £12m required for the project. Under the proposals, the lodge would be turned into a 24-bedroom retreat, with an elevated restaurant and staff accommodation also planned.

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Drew Ratter, director of Brough Lodge Trust, said a philanthropic investor was being sought to take the project forward.

Mr Ratter said: “This is a unique proposition aimed at the world of philanthropist entrepreneurs. We shall carefully assess all offers and will want to ensure that the new ownership optimises benefit to the Fetlar community and to Shetland’s knitwear tradition.”

Brough Lodge, a category A-Listed building set in 40 acres of land, was built in 1820 by merchant Arthur Nicolson of Lochend, who bought most of Fetlar from the Bruce family. It was lived in by his descendants until the 1970s, with its condition starting to deteriorate thereafter.

The lodge and associated properties are considered unusual for Shetland given the mix of classical styles and Moorish details, which are said to have been inspired by Nicolson’s travels.

The Brough Lodge Trust has made the building wind and watertight, with the roof recently renewed and its listing on the Buildings at Risk Register improving as a result.

An aerial view of Brough Lodge and the surrounding buildings on Fetlar, Shetland. PIC: Contributed.

The property is now being marketed through Harper Macleod law firm in Lerwick. In sales literature, it said an “enlightened individual” was being sought to take forward the trust’s vision to transform the property into a “world-class 24-bedroom retreat”.

“At this beautiful site, there is an opportunity to build an exceptional world-class retreat offering an outstanding experience for guests,” a statement added.

Proceeds of the Brough Lodge sale will support the trust’s work in offering hand-knitting tuition to Shetland school schoolchildren, with experienced knitters passing on their knowledge to hundreds of young people so far.

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The retreat is expected to attract guests who wish to learn textile design, although other courses, such as music and yoga, could also be offered at the Fetlar hideaway.

A philanthropist is being sought to create a £12m arts retreat at Brough Lodge on Fetlar in the Shetland Isles. PIC: Contributed.

Architect Nicholas Groves-Raines, co-director of GRAS architects, said: “The site at Brough Lodge is exceptional. We have often worked with clients who wish to blend the very best of modern design with a respectful approach to outstanding heritage. This site offers a unique and very special opportunity to do just that.”

Fetlar is the fourth largest of 100 Shetland islands and is equidistant between Scotland, Norway and the Faroe Islands. It is also known as the ‘Garden of Shetland’ due to its green landscape. The island shop and post office is open for a couple of hours, five days a week, with a cafe running in the summer months. Today, around 70 people call Fetlar home.

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