One of the most famous potteries on the Outer Hebrides has reopened after being brought back to life by a family of local artists.
Coll Pottery had lain derelict for about 10 years before the Whittle family decided to relocate from South Uist and redevelop the building on Lewis for their own use.
With help from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides, the family secured £20,000 from the European Regional Development Fund’s Grants for Growth scheme and a further £10,000 from Western Isles Council’s Revolving Loan Fund, which they invested, alongside personal savings, into the first phase of remodelling the property.
Now, the owners – husband and wife, Alan and Stella Whittle – and two of their children, Aidan, a blacksmith, and daughter Angharad, a part-time jeweller, have created two customer galleries and installed a commercial kitchen and coffee shop.
They all use the 7,535sq ft workshop to produce art, including ceramics, glass suncatchers and jewellery to display and sell.
Their long-term plan is to rent out space and run art and craft seminars to generate additional income.
Mrs Whittle said: “Coll Pottery was a very important employer and exporter, but the business ceased trading in 2008 and the buildings were left to rack and ruin.
“When we first came to see it, there was water cascading through the ceiling.
“Alan said it was all just cosmetic so we took the plunge and signed the deeds. Builders helped patch up the buildings last winter and over the spring we set to work creating a space that was not only practical for all the family but attractive to visitors.”
Derek Maclean of Business Gateway said: “So many people in Lewis have connections with Coll Pottery. We are delighted that the Whittle family saw the potential in buying the business and have established themselves in Coll.
“They have great plans for the pottery that will help establish the name once again and could ultimately create employment opportunities.”