The story of ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’ and the ancient coastal kingdom of Dalriada is set to be brought to life thanks to a £1.5 million project to create a new heritage and community hub at the gateway to the Crinan Canal in Ardrishaig.
The Scottish Canals-led partnership project will see the transformation and extension of a historic, disused building – known locally as the ‘Egg Shed’ – into a bespoke interpretation centre telling the story of the canal and the communities on its banks. From its role in the ancient Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada to the tale of Queen Victoria’s journey along the Crinan Canal, the new centre will allow visitors to step into the unique history of Mid-Argyll via an array of interactive exhibits and interpretation material.
As well as the creation of the interpretation attraction, the revamped Egg Shed project includes space for community activities that could include everything from art installations to pop-up exhibitions and opportunities for social enterprises and community groups. An array of public realm and access improvements also form part of the project, with plans to create new viewpoints and walkways around the building and new access connections with Ardrishaig. The works, which form the first phase of the redevelopment of the former Gleaner Oil depot in the area, are expected to be complete by early 2019.
Christopher Breslin, Head of Regeneration and Development at Scottish Canals, said: “Over the past few years, we’ve worked with our partners and the local community to develop a shared vision for the future of the Crinan Canal corridor. This project marks the latest stage in the delivery of those grand ambitions and the transformation of Ardrishaig into an attractive leisure, tourism and maritime hub.”
The project is funded by the Scottish Government and the European Community Argyll and the Islands LEADER 2014-2020 programme; the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund; Argyll and Bute Council’s Tarbert & Lochgilphead Regeneration Fund; SUSTRANS Community Links Fund; Shanks Argyll & Bute and Argyll & Bute Council through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund; and Ardrishaig Community Trust. A local contractor TSL, based in Oban, successfully won the contract for the project and begins work on site this week (week commencing 15th April).
Aileen Morton, Policy Lead for Economic Development at Argyll & Bute Council, said: “It’s great that Ardrishaig is another step closer to having the community and business resource its residents want. The redevelopment of this site is all about working with the local community to create jobs and boost the local economy and the project was championed by local people. The council has agreed to contribute up to a quarter of a million pounds to make this project possible, as part of our wider work to regenerate the Mid-Argyll area.”
Scottish Canals and Argyll & Bute Council held a series of collaborative design workshops, known as a ‘charrette’, in 2016 to help shape the future of the Crinan Canal corridor. Supported by technical experts and designers, the sessions generated a number of ideas and proposals to help maximise the tourism, leisure and business opportunities offered by the canal and ensure the long-term future of Ardrishaig, Crinan and Lochgilphead. The regeneration of the former Gleaner Oil depot in Ardrishaig, of which the Egg Shed forms a key part, was one of the key priorities identified by the community.
More information on the Crinan charrette can be found at: https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/placemaking/crinan-corridor/