Multi-million pound bid to save Scots castle from ruin

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A multi-million pound business plan to restore one of Prince Charles’s favourite castles has been lodged with Scottish Natural Heritage.

Kinloch Castle, a Category-A listed building on the island of Rum, is renowned as an outstanding monument to late Victorian and early Edwardian times. In its heyday the former shooting lodge was a favourite haunt of aristocrats and royals.

Kinloch Castle is now subject of a multi-million pound bid to save it.

Kinloch Castle is now subject of a multi-million pound bid to save it.

However the building, complete with its original contents, including an orchestrion and other treasures, is now riddled with decay due to a lack of resources from owners Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The first part of a crucial restoration plan, aimed at bringing the castle back to its former glory, would cost more than £7 million.

Now registered Scottish charity the Kinloch Castle Friends Association has lodged plans requesting the transfer of the castle and its contents.

Association secretary Catherine Duckworth said: “It’s been a lot of work from our team, but we got there. It’s all going to cost more than we thought, but in the end it will be fit for a long future of opportunity for Rum and the Small Isles and Lochaber. It’s exciting now, but also hugely daunting.

“Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have all helped the association team work to make our plan as comprehensive as possible. We now await due consideration from the Scottish Government.”

Built in 1897 as the private residence of wealthy Lancastrian industrialist Sir George Bullough and in the care of SNH since 1992, the castle has been on the Buildings at Risk Register since 2004.

The association’s business plan states: “The condition of the castle is deteriorating rapidly and the costs rising exponentially.”

Mrs Duckworth said: “The business plan builds on numerous previous studies, in particular the Prince’s Regeneration Trust study of 2014 and the April 2016 Savills report.

“The plan contains a heritage strategy setting out recommendations for conservation of the collection.”

A report by Smith and Garratt, surveyors with expertise in heritage projects, estimates the cost of the first phase of restoration of the castle at £6.9m.

But since that report was completed the need for a stand-alone combined heat and power unit for the castle has pushed the costs up further.

Part of the accommodation was previously run as a hostel but since this closed in 2013, because of the need for improvements the castle has been lying unoccupied, with only seasonal tours taking place. The new plans would see urgent building work tackled first with the former hostel accommodation reopening as a B&B for 51 people.

The friends association has raised more than £20,000 by crowdfunding to pay for the initial work involved in preparing the asset transfer application and is confident of getting grant aid from various sources for future works.

Stewart Sandison, SNH’s South Highland operations manager, said: “We are working closely with the Friends to ensure a secure future for the castle and are now considering their business case. Our aim is to create economic development opportunities for Rum, as well as provide good value for the Scottish public.”