Raasay House History – An approximate Timeline
Isle of Raasay History and Raasay House History
The history of Raasay House and Raasay history, in general, are tightly bound. With the owner of Raasay House historically owning the entire island the impact that these owners had on the island and its people cannot be understated. From marriage bans and clearing parts of the island for sports and cattle to turning the island into a mining community or housing prisoners of war Raasay and Raasay House itself have a very interesting history. This is an approximate timeline of events which will hopefully give you some idea about how we got where we are today.
The Clan Chiefs House
- Early 1500’s A clan house, home to the Macleods of Raasay, has stood on or near the present site.
- 1746 The original clan house was burnt to the ground, torched by government troops after Culloden. Reparation for the Macleod
- 1747 Building commenced on the present Raasay House.
- 1773 Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell made their historic journey to the Western Isles and were guests of the Macleod chief of Raasay staying at Raasay House.
- 1843 The last Laird, John Macleod, left the house and emigrated with his family to Australia.
- 1846 Raasay house was sold to George Rainy from London, and changed hands again in 1872-4.
- 1876 The house was sold to Henry Wood who added the ornate Georgian-style wings and frontage to the house.
- 1911 Wm Baird & Co. Ironmasters bought the estate and operated an iron ore mine.
- 1923 Board of Agriculture bought the estate from Bairds
“such a seat of hospitality amidst the winds and the waves, fills the imagination with a delightful contrariety of images. Without is the rough ocean and the rocky land, the beating billows and the howling storm, within is plenty and elegance, beauty and gaiety, the song and the dance”Samuel Johnson – Writes of Raasay House in 1773 in the book ‘A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland’
A Sporting Hotel
- 1937 Raasay House was run as a sporting hotel, very successfully at first, with many wealthy guests.
- 1960 The Sporting Hotel closed.
- 1961 The house was purchased for £6,000 by Dr Green from Sussex.
- 1979 Highlands and Islands Development Board (H.I.D.B) purchased the building and other properties on the island.
- 1981 Major Rod Stewart Liddon set up the Scottish Adventure School Trust, in the derelict house.
- 1983 The Scottish Adventure School Closed.
Raasay Outdoor Centre was born!
- 1984 Roddy MacDonald, Tekela Koek and Lyn Rowe set up Raasay Outdoor Centre Ltd.
- 1987 Roddy MacDonald left the company to take up a post in Edinburgh.
- 1988 Tekela Koek left the company to become a full-time parent.
- 1988 Managing Director Lyn Rowe and the R.O.C. staff team developed the business and the H.ID.B. landlords made emergency repairs and some improvements to the fabric of the building.
- 1997 Freya Rowe and David Croy became directors of the business, joining Lyn Rowe.
- 1999 The Raasay House Trust was set up by HIE. A group made up of HIE appointees, Raasay community representatives and Raasay Outdoor Centre representatives to manage the building.
- 2007 major funding was required in order to pay for the desperately needed refurbishments. Finding that funding would only be able if the building was community owned HIE offered the property to the Raasay residents and they voted to accept. At this point The Raasay House Trust became The Raasay House Community Company.
- 2007 Raasay Outdoor Centre hosts the “Raasay Rumble, a new ten-hour mountain bike
Refurbishment & The Fire
- 2008 A multi-million-pound project to renovate and refurbish Raasay House commences.
- 2009 In January a devastating fire gutted all but the West Wing of Raasay House. This was only weeks before the projected completion date and R.O.C. taking back possession of the building from ROK the contractor installed for the renovation.
- 2009 Later that year rebuilding Raasay House began. The house had been insured by the community company and ROK.
- 2010 In November 2010 ROK went into liquidation.
- 2011 In September 2011 after a lengthy tender process Mansell were appointed as the main contractor.
- 2013 On March 26th Mansell handed over the Raasay House keys to RHCC and RHCC handed them over to R.O.C. now trading as Raasay House.
The Hotel Reopens
- 2013 On April 1st Cafe opened.
- 2013 On April 4th First overnight guests arrive.
- 2013 On May 4th ‘May The Forth’ one of the first official R.O.C. ‘welcome back’ events in ‘The House’.
- 2013 The season passes in no time….it’s Busy, Busy, Busy!
- 2013 September saw the official community opening of the Raasay House building by Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP.
Time for Awards
- 2018 Raasay House wins Prestige Hotel Award – Best Historic Hotel!
- 2019 Raasay House wins Prestige Hotel Award – Best Hotel Under 50 Rooms in the West!
- 2020 Raasay House wins Prestige Hotel Award – Best Family Hotel in Scotland!!
SAS: Who Dares Wins in The House
- 2019 Raasay House Hotel serves as the base of operations for the popular Channel 4 documentary series. We also provide RIB safety boat support for sea-based activities and make sure the crew are well looked after. Fantastic fun!
The Pandemic Strikes
- 2020 In February we open for the season with a fantastic new team, new head chef and a fairly booked up year!
- 2020 In March we have to close the premises and await news on any government support
- 2020 In order to protect our small vulnerable island community we remain closed to the general public even after hospitality reopens with restrictions in July
- 2020 After losing around 95% of our business for the year due to the Covid 19 pandemic we are thrilled to welcome SAS: Who Dares Wins back to the hotel in August. They keep us busy for a few months and really make a difference in this terrible year.
- 2021 On May 17th we finally reopened! Given the less than balmy conditions in Scotland during winter and Spring we had decided to delay opening until our guests could enjoy a relaxing drink indoors.
- 2023 We begin a project to transform existing storage and office spaces into 3 new guest bedrooms and upgrading 1 staff bedroom. Watch this space!