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Building Beatrice in Wick

Once Wick had been chosen as home to the Operations and Maintenance base we set about renovating two Thomas Telford buildings that would become our long term operational home.

In addition, we undertook the re-purposing of a disused corner of the harbour to facilitate the berthing of up to six crew transfer vessels.

The image to the right shows our buildings and the harbour area prior to work beginning. 

Heritage built on herring

Wick has been involved in maritime industry for many centuries, most famously as one of Europe's busiest herring ports in the 1880's when it was home to around 1,150 fishing boats.

More than 200 years old, our buildings have seen a number of uses during their lifetime, including as curing yards and a cooperage for the herring industry. Indeed, it is thought that the last of the barrels produced in Wick came from the Beatrice buildings.

As well as providing accommodation for migratory herring workers, there is evidence that suggests the building were also used as a billet in the Second World War.

Eventually our buildings were largely abandoned and fell in to disrepair.

The image shows Wicks Harbour Quay c.1890s.


Copyright Johnston Collection/Wick Society.

Sympathetic renovation

There can be little doubt that the task facing our architect and contractors was significant.

The first job was to clear the out the buildings in order to fully assess the internal structure which was followed by a period of 'take down' works where the buildings were stripped of their roofs, much of the external wall in Saltoun Street and many other parts of the structure.

Careful records were kept so that once rebuilt, the buildings would look very much like they did 200 years ago. And ongoing consultation with the Highland Council's heritage team ensured that the work would be in keeping with the standards expected while renovating historic buildings.

Safe haven

The re-purposing of the disused corner of Wick harbour involved the removal of the old slipway infrastructure and mooring piles, filling and levelling the slipway slope.

Our contractors then installed the pontoons and associated infrastructure required for berthing up to six Crew Transfer Vessels.

The area now provides a safe and secure space for the operational team and vessel crews to work, receive deliveries and prepare vessels for the daily sailings to and from the site.

Slowly but surely

One of the challenges of renovating old buildings is the lack of plans showing the original design and layout. 

Despite this, our contractors - including local family firm GMR Henderson - worked hard to bring two historic derelict buildings back to life and back to serving the maritime industry as they were first designed and built to do.

Today they provide a modern and unique working environment, consisting of office, warehouse, welfare and control room facilities for up to 90 people.

And in deciding to renovate existing buildings, we have delivered significant local benefit by improving the harbour frontage and bringing it back to life.

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