Big year ahead for tiny Ulva

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Tiny Ulva has a big year ahead of it renovating homes as part of a plan to repopulate the island.

Last year 7,000 trippers made the ferry journey over from Mull to visit the island that was once populated by as many as 800 people – now there are just eight who would consider it as home.

The island’s development manager Wendy Reid says 2022 is going to be an exciting year.

To finish off 2021, work has just completed renovating one of six properties as part of a repopulation project. The first one to be renovated was The Manse, a Grade B Thomas Telford designed building dating back to the early 19th century, originally for the Ulva church minister to live in.

For the next while, it will be used to house people living in the next properties to undergo renovation, says Wendy.

There are tenants already for three of the properties, with opportunities for others  coming later. Applications are not being taken for now.

Spread over just 2,000 hectares there was once 16 townships on the whole island – it is only the east end that is inhabited today.

Funding for the North West Mull Community Woodland  Company project to carry out renovation work has come from the Scottish Government’s Rural and Island Housing Fund and Island Community Fund, Argyll and Bute Council and the Ecology Building Society.

Logistics of working on Ulva have not proved easy, but the end results are justifying all the effort, says Wendy.

The next two houses are scheduled for completion hopefully by late spring with the rest due to be finished early summer.

Permission has also been given by Historic Environment Scotland to put out to tender work to turn the former laird’s house – Ulva House – into a mix of new holiday accommodation and a heritage centre telling the story of Ulva through its people.

And work has already started on building up an archive of stories as a historical record stored in the house and to shape up information that goes on display there.

We are looking to build an archive of stories as an historical record to be kept in Ulva House and to inform the material we put on display.

‘With all this activity, plus work continuing on our other projects, 2022 is gearing up to be an exciting year,’ said Wendy.

January will also see the start of work to renovate the stone pier over on Ulva Ferry, where Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) has just announced that the Scottish Government RCGF (Regeneration Capital Grant Fund) has awarded £602,950 for its shore facilities building there.

Working in support of Ulva School Community Association, the building will provide facilities for the community and visitors, as well as support other developments such as the regeneration work on Ulva.