The fate of Kinloch Castle on Rum – once a king’s retreat and a favourite Highland site of the current Prince of Wales – is at risk as Scottish Natural Heritage has warned that without £20m to restore the castle, it will have “no future” and could face a bulldozer.
Built in the 1800s the castle had fallen into disrepair by the time it was sold to the government in the 1950s. After a refurbishment, the castle was used as a hostel for travellers, and there are hopes that the castle could find new life as a hotel and museum if funds can be raised.
SNH have said that they have “been trying to find an acceptable and affordable future for Kinloch Castle for over a decade.
“In that time, the condition of the building has continued to deteriorate despite considerable sums spent to address the most serious issues.
“The options are stark: we either find a way to generate significant funds over many years to invest in renovating the building and securing a cost-effective use for the building or we accept that the castle has no future and should be demolished.”
Prince Charles has led previous attempts to restore the castle, lobbying unsuccessfully in 2008 for SNH to provide renovation funding. Now an enthusiastic group of supporters has emerged, however, with plans to launch a bid for ownership of the castle and help build tourism to the Hebridean island of Rum where it stands. The “Kinloch Castle Friends Association” hopes to establish “a viable and sustainable future for the castle and therefore for the Rum community’ by setting up a Community Interest Company or Building Preservation Trust.
Speaking on behalf of the Kinloch Castle Friends Association, honorary secretary Catherine Duckworth said: “We have had a very positive response from our members for this.
“SNH have long wanted to pass it on as looking after a listed building is not part of their remit. A CIC or BPT would take over ownership and would have charitable status which would give access to other sources of funding than are available to SNH.
“We have taken advice and think the cost of repairs would be appreciably less than the £20 million SNH have said, but until we’re a little further down the route, we haven’t yet got actual costings.
“We also have support from the Rum community who realise that without the castle providing employment, accommodation and a visitor attraction, they will struggle to survive.”
The SNH has said that they are “undertaking further work towards achieving a practical and affordable outcome for Kinloch Castle that is sustainable and represents value for money for the Scottish taxpayer.”