Preserving the Ironworks
You cannot fail to notice the remains of Raasay’s Ironworks as you make the ferry crossing; They are strikingly exposed on the southern tip of the Island. There is no visitor information to retell the history of this site, but herein lies the fascination. Walking up past the old ferry pier and the colossal Concrete Hopper, the collection of smaller structures offers an intriguing chance to perform an architectural autopsy of the site. Climbing about and guessing at the function of each piece and their place in the sequence of iron ore operations that took place is all part of the fun.
The architecture of the old kiln bases appears, at first, residential in scale and form. From the road they might be mistaken for old crofter’s cottages. Set aside from the industrial line, a larger building that must have been offices, workshops or worker accommodation is now open to the elements. The large window openings go beyond what must have been functionally necessary. They provide stunning views across the bay to Skye.
The invitation to imagine how each of these buildings could be refurbished and transformed is irresistible. The Views out feel like they should be harnessed for homes and community spaces. The concrete hearts of each kiln already look like a vaulted corridor of thermal mass beneath a living roof, ready-made to be part of an eco-home.
But to pursue any re-development would extinguish the charm of this abandoned site. Giving it over to private use would deny visitors and islanders alike the chance to roam around and imagine for themselves what the place has been and could be. As you walk on and follow the old railway trestles leading a path into the heart of the island you can feel re-assured that the Highland Council have protected this stunning place as a scheduled monument.