Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Whither Kinloch Castle (and many others)?

A recent article on the uncertain future of Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum caught my eye. Not only for the reminder it provided regarding the fate of the building, but for the way it expanded on the potential conflicts that a community with such a feature can find itself having to deal with.

I can’t better a 40-page booklet produced in 1999 that describes this great Victorian extravaganza.

But this text, to accompany the picture below, gives some idea of the effort that went into its creation:

James Bullough bought Isle of Rum 1886 for £35,000. His Son George inherited much of the family fortune and spent £15 million (in today’s money) constructing the castle. Building began in 1897 with 300 craftsmen, and was finished in 1900.

The red sandstone was from a quarry in Corrie, Arran.

For the gardens 250,000 tons of soil was imported, a walled garden and greenhouses built, water features, bridges and appropriate ornaments. The greenhouses were for peaches and grapes and other fruit associated with the Mediterranean. Sir George died in 1939 leaving the castle to his wife who in turn sold it to Scottish Natural Heritage for around £1 per acre.

Sadly the castle has fallen into disrepair but SNH are paying for the upkeep. The hostel in the back will have to move however. The building featured in BBC’s ‘restoration’ in 2003.

Kinloch Castle

Kinloch Castle © Ashley Dace via geograph

Features like Kinloch are, in my opinion, possibly even more at risk than others which have already reached an advanced state of decay, While the latter are obviously in need of help, somewhere like Kinloch, which the casual observer would look at and consider was looking ‘Ok’, have a reached a stage where relatively little money (and I do use the word ‘relatively’ deliberately) would keep in good condition, and able to become, or remain, and asset to their community, and an attraction to keep visitors and tourists coming into the area.

Not spending the money, and this is why I used the word ‘relatively’ a moment ago, means building up a huge bill to restore the place when it falls apart in a few years, possibly destroying not only itself, but any valuable contents within.

Scottish National Heritage told BBC Scotland that some £1.5 million had been spent on repairs to Kinloch over the last five years, particularly to the roof, to keep it wind and watertight.

While that is not an amount to be ignored, it’s a fraction of the cost of restoring the building (if that became necessary) in future, should it fail to have that relatively low cost of ownership maintained.

The community quandary

But there’s a problem – Kinloch Castle is on an island, and that has a community to support.

That makes it unlike many mainland features, where the only real issue is an owner who is being financially crippled by being handcuffed to a giant money-pit.

So, the equation becomes harder to balance than in many other locations. Is it better to raise and use funds to maintain the castle, and benefits from the tourists and visitors that come with the wallets and credit cards? Or would it be better to let the castle go, and use any money that can be raised to support the community more directly?

I don’t know the answer, and I don’t have all the information needed to even have a stab at it.

I just hope those who have to eventually have to make such decisions do have it.

Via ‘Time running out’ for damaged Kinloch Castle



August 3, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , , ,

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