Community calls for island lighthouse to be sold

The original 18th Century Eilean Glas lighthouse can be seen to the right of Stevenson's famous red and white creation, which was built in the 1820s. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk.
The original 18th Century Eilean Glas lighthouse can be seen to the right of Stevenson's famous red and white creation, which was built in the 1820s. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk.
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An island community says its time for a crumbling historic lighthouse complex that was at the centre of a fraud case to be sold and saved for the future.

Eilean Glas on Scalpay is defined by its striking red and white lighthouse which was built in 1824 by Robert Stevenson.

The original Eilean Glas lighthouse on Scalpay  is due to be restored and turned into a community meeting space and holiday accomodation. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk.

The original Eilean Glas lighthouse on Scalpay is due to be restored and turned into a community meeting space and holiday accomodation. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk.

It replaced the original 18th Century lighthouse which was sold off in 1984 along with some surrounding buildings to Brenda and Robert Ford-Sagers, a financial adviser.

The couple were jailed for two years on appeal in 2004 after more than £100,000 was stolen from the estate of one of Mr Ford-Sagers’ contacts.

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Some of the money was channelled into a bogus trust set up to restore the original lighthouse.

Since the case, Mrs Ford-Sagers and her son, Theo, have led a fresh attempt to raise funds to revive the buildings through the Eilean Glas Trust but the properties remain in a poor condition.

Scalpay Community Council has called for the buildings to be sold on so it can accelerate the restoration and bring them into use for good of the island.

The community claims it is better placed to raise the significant funds required for the project.

Margaret Morrison, chairwoman of Scalpay Community Council, said: “We really would like to buy the lighthouse buildings.

“We have gone down every single road we can.

“Next to the Callanish Stones, Eilean Glass is the second most visited attraction in the Western Isles.

“It is in everyone’s interest for the lighthouse buildings to be sold so we can properly restore them.”

Four buildings at Eilean Glas sit on the Buildings at Risk Register, including the original Grade-A listed lighthouse which is judged to be in a very poor state. It was one of the first four lighthouses in Scotland.

The Eilen Glas Trust, a charity fronted by Theo Ford-Sagers to pursue the restoration of the site, is now overdue in lodging its accounts with the Scottish charity regulator.

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Work to hook up the lighthouse to mains water supply - which involved using a digger to lay a kilometre of new water pipe over very rough moorland - was hampered by bad weather and increasing costs last year.

Brenda Ford-Sagers said the new water system was due to be completed this autumn.

On whether she was confident she could restore the lighthouse buildings, she added: “After so many years of struggle, it would be foolish to say we are confident.

“But do we believe in it, and continue to work towards that end.

“There are no current plans to sell.”