In 1919 Lord Leverhulme unveiled ambitious plans to develop Stornoway Harbour – now 100 years on the Stornoway Port Authority aim to turn these plans into a reality.

Work has already commenced at Goat Island with further proposals for development at Cromwell Street Quay and a deep-water berth at Arnish.

The 1919 plans highlighted a ‘possible area for further expansion’ at Goat Island. The expansion on this site is now under way with the construction of a 70-berth marina in progress. The development of Goat Island will also see a boatshed erected, the construction of a public slipway and the addition of a boat lift.

The project will provide much-needed facilities for local and visiting sailors and tackle a shortage of yacht berths and amenities which is constraining potential growth in marine tourism. 

Alex Macleod, Stornoway Port Authority’s Chief Executive said; “Stornoway needs these facilities to maintain and enhance its share of the growing yachting sector. It will be a significant asset for the port, the island community and our visitors and bring considerable economic benefits to the area.”

The Port Authority has also outlined plans to construct a tidal sill and footbridge connecting the Castle Grounds and Cromwell Street Quay. A bridge on this site was included in Lord Leverhulme’s plan with the inspiration for this structure coming from a series of stepping stones which had been used to cross the bay up to the late 19th century. 

Alex Macleod said: “This plan is at an early stage of development. We think it will provide a safe and useful link for local people and visitors alike and will tie in with works ongoing at the Castle Grounds. We will be consulting on the proposal at a later date.”

Perhaps the most impactful and beneficial aspect of the proposed plans is the deep-water berth at Arnish. Currently vessels with a length of 156 metres or more cannot berth alongside the existing piers in Stornoway which means that passengers must be brought ashore by tender. 

The project is the largest single development in Stornoway Port Authority’s history and one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in the Hebrides.

The facility will help accelerate growth in the cruise business, by providing a berth for larger ships, provide improved berthing and servicing for oil and renewables projects as well as a new linkspan/freight ferry berth. 

This would attract an additional 35-40 cruise vessels a year, creating a significant number of business opportunities throughout the island as visitor numbers entering through the port continue to increase. 

The development has the potential to create more than 200 jobs throughout the Outer Hebrides and have a major impact on tourism in the islands

The project also includes a new deep-water berth for a freight ferry and for larger cargo vessels; berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components; development land for a range of uses, including industrial, storage and decommissioning activities; and a new link road along the foreshore to the Arnish fabrication yard.

Alex Macleod said: “The facility is much-needed and offers huge potential for Stornoway and the whole of the Outer Hebrides in terms of increasing visitor numbers and the jobs that will help create.”