Scotland’s Last House is to be given a new lease of life with plans to transform the property into a thriving visitor attraction.
Located to the east of the iconic John O’Groat’s sign post, it has lain vacant for some time, having previously been home to the country’s most northerly museum, housing a range of artefacts.
With more than 200,000 visitors venturing to the village each year, the team behind the John O’Groats Brewery have now revealed plans to transform the property into an artisan brewery visitor experience.
If approved by Highland councillors, it would be redeveloped to house a brewery, beer tasting room and shop giving visitors a real taste of the north.
The team hope to have the doors open by summer next year adding another attraction to an increasingly confident community.
Director Simon Cottam said the Last House represented a unique opportunity for their thriving business to create a signature experience for locals and visitors alike.
He said: “For us, it is an iconic location in John O’ Groats and a great opportunity.
“The Last House has has lain empty for about a year or so and we have always had one eye on it.”
The brewery is now in its fourth year of trading and is currently located within the village’s old fire station.
Its move to a new home in The Last House is expected to coast about £250,000.”
Mr Cottam added: “The reason we wanted the brewery at John O’Groats to start with was the name and the iconic location and the feeling there really was a gap in the market in the area for a brewery.
“The location we are at isn’t really in the centre and its not really a viable location for a visitor attraction due to its size.
“With the Last House being where it is – right next to the sign post – it couldn’t be a better location.
“It’s a beautiful old building with a lot of history, which we are hoping to reveal to people as they go round and tour round the brewery.”
Alongside the new brewery, the team have also outlined plans for a multimedia tour at the site showcasing the rich history of the surrounding area.
Mr Cottam added: “John O’Groats gets a huge amount of footfall.
“I think we are looking in the region of 200,000 visitors a year now and that’s increasing thanks to the North Coast 500.
“We are hoping to provide a real stop off point to extend the time people spend in John O’Groats.
“We want them to sit down, relax and enjoy themselves here.”
John O’Groats is relishing the positive changes brought by rich investment from local entrepreneurs and residents.
The village has become a top-class attraction on the North Coast 500, attracting thousands of people to the north of Scotland each year.
With aspirations to turn the area into a bustling tourist attraction, local residents have been taking significant steps to transform the village.
In addition to the ambitious brewery plan, members of the John O’Groats Mill Trust are working to transform the area’s Corn Mill into a social, education and cultural centre – at a cost in the region of £1.5 million.
Cafe’s offering fine food and drink and local produce are thriving and the once maligned accommodation offering is unrecognisable.
Andrew Mowat took ownership of the Seaview Hotel in 1998.
As a prominent member of the community, serving as a director of the John O’Groats brewery and treasurer for the Mill Trust, he knows better than most how it has developed.
He said: “It has changed a lot for the better. People are interested and it is helping.
“Things like the brewery, the distillery, the mill are great.
“And some of the other businesses that are already here are investing. They are upgrading their premises and making them look nice.
“It is the first time for a long time that we have managed to get nearly everybody working together.”
A series of events have also been hosted by the village in recent years, including the Mey Games – bringing more than 3,000 people to the area – car rallies and the Taste North Festival, which featured acclaimed French chef Jean Christophe Novelli.
Mr Mowat added: “There are a lot more people moving around now than there has been in years gone by.
“The North Coast 500 has helped enormously, as has the growing trend for people to holiday at home in Scotland rather than going abroad.
“John O’Groats is already a famous place but I think we are getting better and better.
“Everything is going in the right direction for the village.”