PRINCE Charles will be in Caithness next week when he will carry out three formal engagements.
The prince – known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland – will on Monday open two restored cottages which once housed Castletown flagstone quarry workers.
Prince Charles, who paid a private visit to the buildings shortly after they were purchased by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust in 2009, will see how the cottages have been transformed.
Trust chief executive Ros Kerslake will show him some of the important features which have been retained such as a box-bed, a traditional fireplace, a cupboard and flagstone floor as well as a refurbished flagstone boundary wall.
The roof of the buildings have also been restored using original flagstone.
Ms Kerslake said the prince is “incredibly interested” in such projects and she expects an enthusiastic response from him when he formally opens The Flagstone Cottages.
Prince Charles will unveil a plaque to commemorate the event.
“The cottages are very small but played an important role in the flagstone industry. They have been transformed from two little cottages into a bigger one and will be used by members of the prince’s charities as well as North Highland Initiative staff when they are working on other projects. They will also be available for holiday lets,” continued Ms Kerslake.
She explained the aim of the project was to retain traditional features while bringing the buildings up to a modern standard, complete with heating, bathroom, kitchen and internet connection.
Ms Kerslake said the importance of the cottages came to light when the trust was engaged in an Enquiry by Design study in Castletown a few years ago. It identified possible projects, including restoration of old buildings and proposed changes to the centre of the village, including a stronger link with the Castlehill harbour area.
“This is the first tangible thing that has happened in the area but there are other projects which also could be done,” added Ms Kerslake, who paid tribute to everyone who helped with the cottages scheme.
The cottages were built in the 1890s but were last inhabited in the 1950s and lay derelict until bought by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust.
Initially, the trust faced a challenge in securing funding for the repairs and conversion as the cottages were not listed or in a conservation area.
But these hurdles were overcome and work got under way in March.
Also on Monday, Prince Charles will go to the offices of the North Highland Initiative and Wick Harbour and will visit Sibster Farm in Wick.
The prince, who will be in the county for his annual stay, is also expected to be at the Mey Games which are being held next Saturday.