From empty school building to
thriving community project
While declining numbers of children and closures of island schools have been unwelcome facts in recent Hebridean history, nonetheless the availability of former school buildings for new use by their communities has been the up side. Such has been the history of the Claddach Kirkibost Centre. Established in 1885, Claddach Kirkibost School achieved a maximum roll of 75 in 1890, but was finally closed in 1975 due to diminishing numbers and the proximity of primary schools at Carinish to the south and Bayhead to the north. Following a period as an educational resource centre and then a period during which the building fell into disuse, a community trust called Ùrachadh Uibhist (Uist Renewal/UU) was created with an intention of putting the building to good use once again.
A pioneering community project
Ùrachadh Uibhist was started by five local women with the aim of creating local employment and encouraging sustainable development in the community. Its development followed that of Còthrom in South Uist, which had been formed not long before and which was developing its own community project. Developing the Claddach Kirkibost school house into a project within which the UU development aims could be met was a key priority of the Trust.
Today that vision has to a large extent become a reality. Heated with renewable energy from our own ground-source heat pump, the Claddach Kirkibost Centre is modern, spacious, warm and bright - an exciting and rewarding place for young and old to visit. It has many strings to its bow, and whether you want to learn Gaelic, check your emails, have soup and a roll or send your child to nursery, you will probably be able to do it at Claddach Kirkibost!
Original aims becoming a reality
With a full programme of evening and day classes, nature walks and meetings of community groups, there cannot be many people in the locality who do not have occasion to visit the Centre once in a while. Likewise visitors will relish the opportunity to stop off and enjoy the excellent home-cooked fare, while savouring the beautiful views and ever-changing natural light through the large windows of the café.
Membership of the Ùrachadh Uibhist trust is open to anyone in North Uist for just £5 annually. Nowadays there are eight on the board - and men are welcome too! We are a registered Scottish charity - all proceeds of the business go back into the company to help it meet its charitable aims of creating employment and opportunity for local people. Details of annual general meetings, which all members are encouraged to attend, will be posted in advance on this website.