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February 27, 2008

Garrison House re-opens its doors under community ownership

Ten years ago the community staged a sit in to stop the Council mothballing Garrison House, a historic building in the heart of Millport on the Island of Greater Cumbrae. Since then the local development trust have raised a staggering £5million to restore and refurbish the building. Next week Garrison House opens for business


On Monday 10th March, the community of Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae will celebrate the official opening of Garrison House following a two year restoration project.

Situated in the heart of Millport, the Garrison was destined for closure in 1997. Following a major fire in 2001, the building became a derelict eyesore.
The local community realised that the redevelopment of this significant landmark could be the catalyst for the regeneration of the whole island.

A group of individuals joined together and planned a campaign to save the Garrison. In 2003, they formally established Cumbrae Community Development Company and managed to raise over £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, North Ayrshire Council, Historic Scotland, Argyll and Islands Enterprises and the European Regional Development Fund to refurbish the Garrison.

For the last two years, the house has undergone a major reconstruction, including the restoration of the 18th external stonework and the sunken garden designed by the arts and crafts architect, Robert Weir Schultz. The interior of the building has been opened up to create a modern, light space.

The end result is the transformation of the Garrison into the hub of community life and a centre for all visitors to the island. The house will hold the Museum of the Cumbraes, the library, Council services, GP practice, and a café.

Commenting from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Colin McLean, Manager for Scotland, said:

‘The re-opening of the Garrison will be welcomed by all who live and visit the Island of Cumbrae. This project is a credit to the local community who have driven this project forward with unfailing commitment. It will encourage and assist new initiatives that will benefit the whole island. We were delighted to help turn the fortunes of Garrison House and the Isle of Cumbrae.’

John Burtt, Chairman of Cumbrae Community Development Company, added:

‘This has been a long project but the end result is fantastic. Garrison House is right at the centre of Millport and its restoration will restore the heart and confidence of the local people. It will attract more tourists and encourage new businesses to the island.

‘We would like to thank all our funders for believing in us and investing in the long-term economic sustainability of Cumbrae.’