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July 16, 2008

Heritage and Visitor Centre finally opens on Eday

The community on the island of Eday in Orkney has a small population but big ambitions. Already successfully running a community co-op, post office and a hostel for visitors, the community have long planned for a Heritage Centre that would attract more visitors on to the island. Last week they opened their doors of their new centre


The Orkney island community of Eday celebrated the opening of The Eday Heritage and Visitor Centre on Saturday, 5 July. Many years in the planning, the project came to fruition through the work of the community-led Eday Partnership, working closely with the Eday Heritage Association. Funding has come from a number of grant givers including HIE Orkney, the Russell Trust, Orkney Islands Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. What was the island’s former Baptist Church and a derelict building, is now fully restored and houses a heritage display area, a permanent archive, a café and a tourist information point. The Eday Oral History Project is also housed within in the centre – an exciting 2-year project working with the primary school and with volunteers interviewing local people to gather memories and records of life on the island in the past.

Activities on the day included a guided walk with the Eday Ranger – the Eday Partnership and neighbouring island Sanday’s Development Trust are two of the few community groups in Scotland to employ countryside rangers, both part-funded by Scottish Natural Heritage.
Eday is situated amongst the North Isles of Orkney, which in turn lie of the north coast of Scotland. It is roughly 8 miles long and 3 miles wide and has around 131 residents. The Island relies mainly on farming and has a community Co-op and post office, several B&Bs, self-catering accommodation and a recently refurbished community-run hostel. Eday is centrally located for tourism and there is a tremendous scope for development for islanders, local industry and tourism – the heritage centre is among a number of projects to attract people to visit the island and to enhance the quality of life for all resident there.