Situated on the Isle of Rum off Scotland’s west coast, dilapidated Kinloch Castle is seeking a deep-pocketed owner prepared to inject millions to save it from further ruin.
Interior elements of the 19th century castle, which is currently owned by government body Scottish Natural Heritage, are said to be in perilous condition, with extensive wet and dry rot found throughout the property, ceilings requiring maintenance, and chimneys needing to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Valued at just £1, the historic estate – which reportedly boasts a long list of prominent admirers including Prince Charles – could require up to £20 million in renovation costs to bring it back from the brink.
Admired for its elegant turreted towers and sumptuous interiors, Kinloch Castle was built in 1897 in a no-expenses-spared fashion by eccentric Lancastrian industry tycoon Sir George Bullough, who forked out a sum that equates to around £15 million when adjusted for inflation.
In the summer, Kinloch was formerly a playground for Highland sports and regularly attracted wealthy visitors, who would arrive on the island aboard the Bullough estate’s luxurious steam yacht.
The mansion was one of the first private houses in the country to have electricity, and the sprawling gardens were once home to hothouses filled with interesting and exotic pets, including hummingbirds, turtles and alligators.
The Category A listed castle lay uninhabited for a spell following Sir George’s death in 1937, and later operated as a hostel.
Latterly the historic pile, which contains a large number of precious artefacts, including the world’s last functioning orchestrion – an antique musical instrument that once belonged to Queen Victoria and emulates a 40-piece orchestra – had served as a museum, but this came to an end when the pandemic put paid to tours.
A community bid to take over the crumbling castle, which has been on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland since 2004, was tabled in recent years, but failed to come to fruition.
Confirming that the castle will not go on the open market, a spokesperson for Scottish Natural Heritage said: "Kinloch Castle is not currently on the open market for sale. We are working to identify a beneficial owner for the castle and grounds.
"Any future owner will need to contribute towards three key objectives: securing the conservation and preservation of the castle; contributing to the sustainability of the Rum community; and enhancing nature on Rum, including promoting its enjoyment, and minimising the castle's impact on the natural environment."
Kate Forbes MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, added: "Kinloch Castle is an exceptional building that deserves substantial investment.
"I am very keen to support all initiatives to save the castle."
Stewart Sandison, Operations Manager at Scottish Natural Heritage, stressed the importance of finding the right owner to take on the castle.
He said: "Any future owner will need to contribute towards three key objectives; securing the conservation and preservation of the castle, contributing to the sustainability of the Rum community and enhancing nature on Rum - promoting its enjoyment and minimising the castle's impact on the natural environment.”