This attractive community building is Arisaig’s heritage centre, meeting place, tourist information and visitor hub. It’s one of the few places in the village open all year.
The original blacksmiths or ‘smiddy’ was bought by the village from the local estate, and with funding from the Scottish Rural Development program, converted to a visitor centre in 1999.
In 2011 Arisaig Community Trust took over the building and appointed a Local Development Officer to revitalise the centre and give it a clear business and cultural remit: to inform visitors about local heritage and natural history, to work closely with schools, and to promote local goods and services. The new direction has been hugely successful and since 2013 a part-time manager (funded by HIE and profits from the business) and a team of enthusiastic volunteers have welcomed increased visitor numbers.
In 2015 we refurbished the building to make it much more energy-efficient, and installed new furniture, equipment and a media centre. The refurbishment was part of a much wider project (the Arisaig Eco Project) funded by the Climate Challenge Fund.
By dramatically reducing our running costs we have been able to put money towards other community projects. In early 2018 we began work on improving parking facilities outside the LSIC and building a new community workshed. The workshed will house artefacts, exhibition materials, tools, sports and maintenance equipment.
We are currently raising funds to extend the LSIC further. Planning permission has been granted for a sympathetic and contemporary extension with more exhibition space and increased opportunities for selling local goods and gifts. We also hope to offer a small cafe, storage shed, improved car parking and electric car charging points.
Community Workshop ‘Bill’s Shed’
In 2019 we resurfaced and enlarged the car park to prepare for the construction of our new workshop. Funded by LEADER, HIE, the Arisaig Fund and private donations, the shed has been named after Arisaig resident Bill Henderson who was instrumental in setting up the Arisaig Community Council and Community Trust and was keenly involved in the community throughout his life.
The workshop will store exhibition artefacts for LSIC as well as hosting new projects: a tool library, electric bike rental and partnership projects with Men’s Shed and the Shirley Project. The space can also be used by members of the community. Electric charging points have now been installed, as part of the Arisaig Eco Project.