Castle with vital WWII role on sale for £1.75m

Castle Toward was renamed HMS Brontosaurus during the Second World War. Picture: Deadline News
Castle Toward was renamed HMS Brontosaurus during the Second World War. Picture: Deadline News
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A SCOTTISH castle which played a vital but little-known role in defeating Nazi Germany is on the market for £1.75 million.

The buyer of 19th-century Castle Toward gets 25 bedrooms, six reception rooms and extensive grounds with stunning views over the Cowal peninsula near Dunoon.

One of the six reception rooms at Castle Toward. Picture: Deadline News

One of the six reception rooms at Castle Toward. Picture: Deadline News

But 73 years ago, the property was commandeered by Winston Churchill, renamed HMS Brontosaurus, and used to train thousands of British troops for the D-Day landings.

Overlooking the Clyde estuary, and with easy access to the sloping shoreline, the castle was an ideal place to train troops in amphibious warfare.

Soldiers practised beach landings – complete with bombs, smokescreens and strafing fighters – and leapt from landing craft to clamber up the beach in preparation for the events of 6 June, 1944 in Normandy.

Allied troops would spend a week intensively training at the castle, swimming in full kit and taking part in day and night exercises on the nearby hills.

It must have been an amazing site with the landing crafts, ships and tanks coming and going

Jim Jepson

The training was so tough and realistic that many servicemen died in accidents.

The B-listed castle, built from stone and slate in 1820, returned to civilian use in 1946 and until recently was used as an outdoor education centre.

The brochure from selling agent Baird Lumsden says the castle could be converted back to residential use and points out that the grounds include the ruins of the original castle and seat of the Clan Lamont.

The castle’s rich military history is still present. One room is named after Churchill following his visit with the chief of the Combined Operations Command, Lord Mountbatten.

The castle was an ideal place to train troops in amphibious warfare. Picture: Deadline News

The castle was an ideal place to train troops in amphibious warfare. Picture: Deadline News

The foundations of the huts used to accommodate visiting troops can still be seen in parts of the grounds.

Jim Jepson, an expert in the warfare of the time, said the troops at HMS Brontosaurus had been “planning for the return” to mainland Europe.

Mr Jepson, of commemorative group the Combined Operations Association, said of Castle Toward: “It was ideal where it was. It’s a beautiful building. And historically important, yes.”

The castle has only just been put on the open market after plans for a community buyout were rejected by the local council.

“The property was originally constructed as a private dwelling and could be used for this purpose again,” Mr Jepson said.

“However, due to its scale, it may now be more suited to a commercial use or subdivision subject to the required consents.”

Reflecting on its wartime use, Mr Jepson said the RAF would at times have flown over the Scottish beaches dropping bombs and smokescreens.

“It had to be as realistic as possible,” he said.

“It must have been an amazing sight with the landing craft, ships and tanks coming and going.”

Speaking about what it was like for the troops who attended HMS Brontosaurus, he said: “They were under a lot of pressure. Sadly, there were a lot of accidents and a lot of people killed.”

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