When RAF Saxa Vord closed in March 2006 things looked bleak for the economy of Unst. Local folk had found employment with the RAF as early as 1954, when many helped with the construction of both the Domestic and Top Sites. For over 50 years the MOD had employed civilian staff to help run and maintain the base and now a significant proportion of the adult population of the island became unemployed.
The MOD and Local Agencies were keen to find a way forward which would help ease the major blow to the islands economy. In March 2007 the Domestic Site and the road to the Ops Site were sold to a company, started by Frank & Debbie Strang (both ex RAF) which now operates and trades under the name Saxa Vord Ltd. They had previously bought the Domestic Site at RAF Buchan in Oct 2005 and renamed it Buchan Braes. Numerous developments have taken place there including the opening of the Buchan Braes Hotel in the old Officers Mess (after considerable refurbishment) – Link: - http://www.buchanbraes.co.uk/
The Saxa Domestic Site was been renamed the “Saxa Vord Resort” - the aim has been to turn the area into tourist resort and natural and cultural heritage centre.
The Quarters at Nordabrake have been refurbished and are now offered as self-catering holiday houses and part of the Sergeants Mess has been converted into Hostel accommodation with single and twin/double bedded rooms. Full dining and bar facilities are available. The resort website can be found at:- http://www.saxavord.com/
Businesses have been encouraged to takeover some of the camp Buildings. Foords Chocolates operate a chocolate factory and café in the ex Medical Centre by the camp gates - http://www.foordschocolates.com/ and the Valhalla Brewery, up until now based at Baltasound, is currently moving into the ex MT Buildings - http://www.valhallabrewery.co.uk/
The following pictures of the Domestic Site and Nordabrake were all taken this month on a wet and windy day but will serve as a reminder to those of you who have been to Saxa. There have been number of changes; for example, the old NAAFI Shop has gone as has the perimeter fence and camp gates. I hope to return later, when the tourist season is in full-swing, to take interior photos. (Left click on photos to enlarge).