A CRUMBLING mansion bought for just £5 has now been valued at £1.2m.
The UK’s most northerly Georgian mansion is closer to Norway than Edinburgh sitting on the remote island of Unst, Shetland.
The stunning house is now a thriving business after a restoration project that took 15 years to complete – and increased its value by almost 24 million per cent.
Built in 1775, Belmont House was the most glamorous building on the tiny island which has a population of just 630.
It’s so far north – 60.7500° – that the views frequently include a display of the Northern Lights.
Shetland merchant Thomas Mouat took inspiration from building he saw in the Lothians and London and imported the material for the house from Edinburgh.
Belmont stayed in the same family until the 1970s when it was sold to an Edinburgh architect, however, by time it had lain empty for several decades.
By the 1990s plans to restore the house had not been realised and a group of locals formed the Belmont Trust in a bid to stop it falling down.
They managed to buy the building for just £5 after striking a deal with the owner.
Now it has been valued at £1.2m – a 23,999,900% increase on its purchase price – and last year made a profit for the first time as a holiday let and wedding venue.
Mike Finnie, chairman the trust, said the mansion was “revolutionary” for Shetland when it was first built.
“We approached the owner, there was no problem, he’d eventually accepted he wasn’t going to do anything with it.”
“Now It’s got a £1.2m insurance value.”
Speaking about what the mansion was like when they first took it over Mr Finnie said: “We knew the roof was about to collapse. We got £40,000 emergency grant funding and eventually propped it up to stop the interior collapsing.
“You could stand in the basement and see up into the roof. The whole front of the house had rotted away.”
It took several years to get funding together to complete the restoration and it wasn’t until 2010 that the restoration was finally completed.
“We spent years trying to get the money. Historic Scotland were the main funder. They were very helpful. The Architectural Heritage Fund gave us a start up grant for emergency work.
“There were lots of little trusts that helped.”
He continued: “Belmont had never been touched.
“Some rooms still had their original colours and had never painted since 1775 and a few areas had been repainted once, sometime in the 19th century.
“Historic Scotland took samples and analysed it. We have painted the house as it was in 1775.
“It’s quite amazing for a house not to have been modified in around 200 years.”
Belmont House is now up for hire and used for community events, holiday lets and weddings.
The entire place can be rented for between £1,700 and £800 a week.
“The money raised goes back into the house,” explained Mr Finnie. “The house is looking after itself now – we’re getting there.
“It made a modest profit last year.”