Slains Castle ‘should be saved for nation’ says campaigner

Slains Castle, near Cruden Bay. Picture: Contributed
Slains Castle, near Cruden Bay. Picture: Contributed
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It is a dark and brooding ruined castle standing on cliff tops overlooking the North Sea and famed a being the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror novel Dracula.

But now a Scottish pensioner has launched a campaign to “take back” internationally renowned Slains Castle near Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, from developers and have it turned over to the nation.

Joe Allan, 82, a retired civil servant from East Kilbride, has written to Nicola Sturgeon about the building owned by developers. Picture: John Devlin

Joe Allan, 82, a retired civil servant from East Kilbride, has written to Nicola Sturgeon about the building owned by developers. Picture: John Devlin

Joe Allan, 82, a retired civil servant from Esat Kilbride, is writing to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asking her to intervene in the long-running saga which has seen the castle, parts of it dating from the 16th century, lie “moth-balled” since a business consortium, the Slains Partnership, were granted outline planning permission by Aberdeenshire Council for holiday flats.

However, due to the economic downturn the application, first agreed in 2007 has been extended until 2017.

The castle has been on the Buildings at Risk Register since 2004.

Stoker wrote part of Dracula in 1895 while staying in nearby Crooked Lum Cottage, the holiday home he used for almost 20 years.

In Dracula,Stoker described “a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.”

Mr Allan said: “The castle is superb, a magnificent ruin but it is exposed to the full fury of the elements and is deteriorating.

“The reason for this planning application being extended is that financial backing has not been forthcoming. This is legal but wrong. Legality and right and wrong are not one and the same thing.”

Mr Allan said he developed his passion for the castle after reading tales about it in a book when he was sent to stay with his grandparents in Elgin for a few years, to get away from Clydeside during the Second World War.

He added: “Slains Castle must belong to the nation and the people of Scotland, and the people who come to visit Scotland, not just a favoured few holidaymakers who can afford to stay there.”

Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said Slains Castle deserved special consideration because of its unique and international literary history.