ONE THOUSAND abandoned island homes are set to be brought back to life after featuring in a haunting photographic exhibition.
Eerily beautiful pictures of the derelict croft houses slowly rotting away in the Western Isles were taken by former Buzzcocks drummer John Maher.
The remarkable images have now led to talks with one of the world’s biggest charitable foundations, The Carnegie Trust, in a bid to make them habitable again.
There are about 1,000 empty properties frozen in time, many of which have been empty since their owners passed away or moved to the mainland.
Meanwhile there is a big housing problem with around 1,000 people waiting for a home on the islands.
A housing agency now plans to renovate the first properties this autumn in a project that could save the islands’ dwindling rural communities.
Brian Whitington, project manager at the Tighean Innse Gall , said the photographs were “the catalyst” for the ground-breaking project.
Members of the Carnegie Trust saw the images and wanted to get involved in a possible rescue project for the homes.
Talking about the exhibition, first shown in Stornoway in 2013, he said: “I think it had a profound effect on people. People thought, ‘how can we not do something with these?’”
He added: “There are 1,000 of these empty properties in the Western Isles and there around 1,000 people waiting for housing in the Western Isles.”
So far they have have been given £50,000 to get the project started and hope to raise hundreds of thousands.
John Maher and Ian Paterson took the pictures for the exhibition.
John said: “The pictures had quite an impact with the people in the Carnegie Trust.
“If it results in some people moving into a renovated home it can’t be looked at in any other way than positive.”
The Carnegie Trust is a charitable foundation founded by Scots industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1913.
He was born in Dunfermline, Fife, in 1835 and emigrated with his family to America when he was just 13.
He went on to lead the enormous expansion of the American steel industry and gave away the equivalent of £3bn to charity.
His life has often been referred to as the original ‘rags to riches’ story.