Possible Community Buyout of Islay House

Members of the Bridgend Community Garden project were presenting an exciting new idea at the Islay Show last week - a community buyout of Islay House and garden. Islay House is located to the west of Bridgend and comprises 24 bedrooms, 5 reception rooms, 9 bathrooms a Staff flat & cottage and has about 28 acres of ground. Tom Friedrich, the current owner, has put the house and garden on the open market which has inevitably made the Bridgend Community Centre nervous about the long term future of the garden project. The house, which is being offered for sale by agents Savills of Edinburgh is described on their website as: 'one of Scotland’s most magnificent mansion houses' and is listed Category A. The asking price is set at 2,25 million.

The building of Islay House for Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor began in 1677 during the reign of Charles II. Sir Hugh’s great- grandfather, Sir John, had been granted 'Ye lands of Ylay and Rynnis' by Crown Charter in 1614 in an attempt by the state to bring the rebellious residents of Islay to order. Alterations and additions were made to the house through history, extensively in the 1730s, when the gable-fronted north wing was added, and again in the 1760s, when matching octagonal staircases were added to the north and south wings, along with the main front entrance with double doors, pillars and fanlight. In 1841, Scotland’s prolific architect William Playfair, created substantial sandstone service buildings in the Scottish Baronial style, which comprised a deer larder, dry goods larder, wine cellar, butler’s pantries, housekeeper’s suite and other staff quarters on three floors with extensive kitchen space and stores. Last Friday Tony Archibald of the Bridgend Group sent off 367 signatures (representing 14% of the electoral roll of Islay) to the Scottish Land Fund to register their interest in a Community Buyout. The group has had widespread support for the idea and many schemes have been proposed in outline that will help to take the project forward but the group would welcome further ideas from the community to make this proposal a sustainable community asset.

Of course there's still a long way to go but it would be great if Islay House would fall into community hands. This could perhaps become the perfect location for the Islay Museum to put everything they have on display, combined with an extensive library and I'm sure there are lots and lots of other possibilities for this wonderful house. How about a special whisky museum to commemorate Islay's great whiskies, a hotel or apartments, a concert hall, community centre, shops, tourist information etc. With so many space the opportunities are almost unlimited.

More information, pictures from the inside of the house and a floorplan is available at the website from Savills Real Estate Agent

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