MORE than 5,600 people have signed a petition designed to save Castle Toward.
Argyll and Bute Council closed the castle in November 2009, claiming it was unfit for its purpose as an outdoor activity centre, but an online campaign seeking to save the castle from closure has attracted a lot of support.
A Facebook page set up attracted more than 4000 members in its first four weeks while the 38 Degrees petition has amassed 5,619 signatures at the time of writing.
Campaigners are calling on the authority to reduce the asking price for the Castle Towards estate from £1,750,000 to £750,000.
The petition states: “The community project will create in excess of 80 jobs in an area that desperately needs them.
“It will also create an attraction that will attract visitors to a beautiful part of Argyll, further boosting the areas fragile economy.
“The project will do more for the area than anything the council has so far done in relation to the estate.
“The communities of Dunoon, Innellan and Toward are united behind this project, unlike the council, who have only put obstacles in the way.”
The authority’s decision came directly after the operating company, Actual Reality, requested to update the centre’s fire protection system.
Argyll and Bute Council have reportedly made several attempts to sell the castle and its grounds.
Dating from the 1400s, the original Castle was owned by Clan Lamont until the early 19th Century, when it fell into ruin.
The current Castle Toward was built by former Lord Provost of Glasgow Kirkman Finlay, in 1820, as a country house for his family.
During World War II, the castle operated as a combined operations centre, named HMS Brontosaurus, and was bought by the Corporation of Glasgow in the 1940s.
Initially used as a residential school for children recovering from sickness or living in deprivation, it opened to children from all primary schools in Glasgow as an outdoor centre.
Most recently it has been used by the Glasgow Schools’ Symphony Orchestra and the West of Scotland Schools’ Concert Band.
The castle’s composer-in-residence is John Maxwell Geddes, who created a ‘Postlude for Strings’ in protest at the council’s plans to sell the castle.
The castle’s grounds were also used as a location for BBC programme Raven, featuring actor James MacKenzie up until 2008.
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