About Us

History of the Trust






Our Aims and Objectives

  1. The promotion and preservation of the cultural, environmental and linguistic heritage of Colonsay and Oransay through educational and

    recreational activities and through the collection and dissemination of relevant material for study and display.

    Engaging the local community and visitors in contributing to and using our centre and in participating in a variety of projects and initiatives.

    Encouraging creative responses to the island’s culture and environment through the promotion of various artistic and literary media.

    And in the longer term the creation of a dedicated centre on the island to care for and make available local collections through displays, activities, a reading room and





A Heritage Association was first established in 1990, achieving charitable status as Colonsay and Oransay Heritage Trust in 1993, when it was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. Over the years it held regular exhibitions and events in the Old Waiting Room in Scalasaig, until finally relocating to the Old Generator Shed at Port Mor in 2010. The Trust is grateful to Colonsay Estate for rent free use of this building, as a temporary measure. 

 For over 20 years, dependent largely on donations and grants for income, the Trust has promoted an annual programme of exhibitions and events including:

· The Trust's own displays on local history and environment based on text, artifacts and photographs

· Hosted touring exhibitions on traditional and cultural themes from the National Library of Scotland, the School of Scottish Studies in the University of Edinburgh, and Scotland's   Lighthouse Museum, and a collaboration with the MacDougall Collection (Oban) on an exhibition at the Village Hall in 2005

· Shown the work of local and visiting artists on a regular basis.

· Enjoyed collaborations with Kilchattan Primary School and mainland secondary schools in both England and Scotland

· Offered a programme of guided walks, talks, practical demonstrations and community open days held in the village hall which have attracted a keen response from visitors and residents. Themes for these events included Gaelic place-names of Colonsay, working with wool, an introduction to astronomy and guided walks on local flora, birdlife and to the abandoned village of Riasg Buidhe.

Archaeological walks, by the Trust, are now included in Colonsay's Spring and Autumn festivals.

Two studies (John Finlay 2002 and CADISPA 2005) highlighted both the potential and the need for a dedicated place to fulfil these aims and to make adequate long-term provision for the collections already awaiting a suitable home. They also demonstrated the educational, social and economic benefits which would result from the proposed centre. The majority of islanders who responded or contributed to these studies showed support for the proposal. Visitors, too, are keen to benefit from greater and more immediate access to information on the islands' history and environment during their stays. This was clearly demonstrated by the positive response to the 2006 programme.



Since being offered the opportunity to develop a centre at Port Mòr the Trust has, with the support of the Local Development Officers and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, explored the options for a suitable development at Port Mòr. We have sought advice from the planning department, have had sketch proposals submitted from various architects and have had community meetings to encourage involvement from local residents. We also conducted a short visitor survey which demonstrated support for our project.

Since summer 2012, when we opened our temporary exhibition in the Old Generator Shed, we have had many positive comments in our visitors' book both in appreciation of our limited exhibition on display and in support of our aspirations for the future.

Also in 2012 we were awarded funding, from Awards for All, to carry out a feasibility study and business case in order to apply for full funding for the project. The positive study is now complete but the Trust has been advised that we should prove ourselves through the delivery of smaller projects as stepping stones to embarking on our ultimate aim to build a dedicated centre.

A New Phase

As it embarks on this new phase Colonsay and Oransay Heritage Trust looks forward to further fulfilling its aims and objectives on behalf of the people of Colonsay and Oransay, with the support of the community and from friends and visitors to the island. We welcome new members into the Trust and now have associate membership available to friends of Colonsay far and wide. We look forward to keeping you in touch with our progress.

This new website is part of that process. Digitising the Trust's archives is an enormous task and we will be continually adding new materials as time permits. We are grateful to everyone who has agreed to contribute to this exciting project and look forward to collating Colonsay's history on this site.

If you have any comments or suggestions we would be delighted to hear from you.