Although I’ve never had the opportunity to visit (or am likely to), I’ve always like the look of Kinloch Castle.
The open arcade (wrongly referred to as a ‘loggia’ – which has a roof or covering) around the building gives it a wonderful appearance.
Dating from around 1897, wealthy English industrialist George Bullough clearly wanted something just a little better than a hovel – his new retreat included lighting, powered by its own hydro-electric scheme, central heating, double-glazed stained-glass windows, sophisticated showers, and even an early telephone system, plus a (now lost) conservatory with hummingbirds, peaches and grapes, and heated pools in the (walled) garden with… alligators and turtles. That garden also contained 250,000 tons of imported soil.
His father (James) had bought Isle of Rum 1886 for £35,000. Inheriting much of the family fortune he spent £15 million (a 1974 valuation) building the castle, employing some 300 craftsmen, and importing red sandstone quarried in Corrie, Arran.
It was eventually sold to Scottish Natural Heritage in 1957 for around £1 per acre, and featured in the BBC’s ‘Restoration’ series in 2003.
SNH has been paying to maintain the building and contents ever since, but even though it is A-listed, it could be demolished as the bill for repair and maintenance is said to have reached £20 million.
At that, I think I’m unlikely to write anything different from the last alarm call for Kinloch, so you should just read this post from 2013:
Well, maybe there is a further comment, after I read this:
While the “shocked” ‘Kinloch Castle Friends Association ‘ may have their hearts in the right place, they also have to move into the real world.
There is no bottomless pit of funding for public bodies to dip into and ‘magic’ £20 million for a building that does not pay its way, or cannot provide some sort of operational contribution.
It’s all well and good to wave your hands and cry:
“Kinloch Castle is a truly magnificent place to visit and we simply do not accept that it is a write-off. It would be nothing short of a scandal if the castle were to be demolished, a scandalous loss of heritage.”
“I can’t believe that a heritage body would even consider demolishing such a beautiful, historic and unique building. It would be a huge mistake.”
But if you can’t also bring the funds needed to prevent it:
Earlier attempts to preserve the mansion, which were backed by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, have failed given the lack of public funding available.
Then your position may indeed be morally sound, but sadly practically flawed.
Perhaps another sad aspect we have nowadays is the aspect of liability, and the fear that SNH may find themselves being sued by someone who enters the abandoned and derelict castle one day, and is injured or even killed.
Even thought they may have entered without permission and wilfully ignored ‘NO ENTRY’ and ‘DANGER’ signs, chances are that SNH remain liable simply for leaving the castle there – and that threat is why they dare not simply abandon it and walk away, and warn that demolition is their option if they cannot fund repairs.
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.
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.
With too many stories appearing in this blog and telling of museum which are either closing, or threatened with closure, it’s nice to see the occasional tale of additional funding, or protection of funding for an existing museum.
In this case, it’s the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife, based in Anstruther, and tells the history of the Scotland fishing industry with a collection of more than 66,000 items. The museum will receive £75,000 in the period 2013/14, part of a £49.7 million allocation to Scottish museums and galleries.
Simon Hayhow, director of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, said:
The Scottish Fisheries Museum is grateful to the Scottish government and the culture secretary for continued support for our work in increasing visitors and improving access to our collections.
This funding is vital to us, and allows us to unlock other sources of grants for exciting and innovative projects, such as ‘Home from the Sea’ and ‘Science and Sea Monsters’ and work on developing the museum’s range of public services for the future.
The museum hosts the historic floating vessel ‘Reaper‘ (built in 1902), which was repaired last year, and has plans to take the craft to the south Forth ports in May. Last year, it completed an upgrade to its tearoom, and opened a community curated exhibition, ‘Iconic Artists in Iconic Places’. More new exhibitions are planned for 2013, including “Science and Sea Monsters”, due to open on 16 February, 2013.
The museum also plans to find a site where it can locate a new Large Objects Store.
See also: Scottish Fisheries Museum
Funding of almost £8 million has been awarded for heritage projects in Scotland’s six cities. The grants from Historic Scotland will be used to enhance conservation areas and maintain historic sites.
Edinburgh projects already mentioned include work on monuments in Greyfriars Kirkyard, repairs to an original Victorian shop front, and restoration of a 19th Century listed building. Dundee will see work take place within conservation areas, including work on ‘at risk’ buildings, together with further investment in the Riverside and Crown conservation areas of Inverness.
The grants are good news, especially at the moment when purse strings are being tightened, so something somewhere has to be suffering. Something that could happen under such circumstances is the assumption that big or well-known high-profile cities can look after themselves, and have some sort of magical pot of money that can be drawn on, unlike smaller conurbations. However, as one who lives in one of those ‘big, rich cities’, I know this is far from the case, having watched many worthy building fall into decay, ruin, and eventual vandalism and demolition.
Listing etc is all well and good, but apart from legal status and little protection, it does not come with any funds to maintain or restore properties.
6 February 2012
Historic Scotland has announced that it will be offering £7.69m in City Heritage Trust grants over the next three years to Scotland’s six cities. The grants are designed to safeguard and enhance conservation areas, the historic environment and sense of place.
Glasgow will receive £2,550,000, Edinburgh will receive £2,145,000, and Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Stirling will each receive £750,000.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs said: “It is vital that we continue to improve the quality of our Scottish cities to make them better places to live, work and invest.
“Managing our historic environment creatively also contributes to sustainable economic growth by growing Scotland’s construction industry and increasing the availability and quality of traditional skills and materials. Using new skills and sustainable materials in the adaptation of existing buildings will also help support the historic environment’s transition to a low carbon economy.
“This investment builds on our Agenda for Cities and £7 million Cities Investment Fund, which has been launched to build the momentum to make sure our cities and their regions make the fullest possible contribution to sustained economic recovery – stimulating economic recovery and job creation.”
There was further information appended to the release, which helps to explain some of the terms referred to in the release:
- The Year of Creative Scotland begins on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at: Year of Creative Scotland 2012 – VisitScotland. The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.
- More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at VisitScotland.org > Year of Creative Toolkit
- More information about the Agenda for Cities can be found at Scotland’s Cities: Delivering for Scotland – In Collaboration with Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling
I tend to stay away from council related stories nowadays. Too many look more like mindless ‘council-bashing’ than reasoned analysis – and I found myself falling into that very trap once, and decided to walk away unless something really didn’t stack.
The story of Edinburgh City Council’s refusal of planning permission for a project to introduce a hovercraft service to the Forth seems to be odd enough for me to risk breaking cover, and mentioning.
The service would connect Kirkcaldy and Portobello, and we noted the testing carried out back in 2008: Forth hovercraft could be floating away, when it was reported that a trial service operated in 2007 had attracted some 32,000 passengers, and near complete approval rendering it “an unqualified success”.
Despite this, and the fact that permission for a terminal at Fife has been granted, Edinburgh’s council has torpedoed the project.
Even stranger is the report of continued wide support from potential users for the service, that Fife councillors have been prepared to criticise the Edinburgh councillors’ decision, and that the support transport partnership SEStran (South East Scotland Transport Partnership, Travel Planning & Strategy) was also snubbed.
The project has, or had, been actively pursued for at least four years (since 2007 but would no doubt have been conceived earlier), but unless something surprising happens, is now dead, as the company behind the service has post patience, and said there will not be an appeal:
Stagecoach Group chief executive Sir Brian Souter said: “This has been a long and painful process. We are completely scunnered and have no intention of appealing against the planning decision.”
Stagecoach said it continues to support a proposed passenger ferry between Burntisland, Fife and Granton, Edinburgh. Stagecoach said it was prepared to put £7m into the project in a joint venture with Bland Group.
(The pic’s a shipwreck – royalty free pics of wrecked hovercraft are as easy to find as hen’s teeth!)
We’ve mentioned Argyll and Bute Council’s £30 million CHORD programme before, first to note its existence, and more recently when the plans for Rothesay were announced. CHORD’s aim is to regenerate key coastal towns on the Clyde, and others in line for investment are Campbeltown, Oban, and Dunoon.
In an announcement that the council claims will see the largest town in the area see “the most major improvement works it has seen for decades”, £6.3 million has been approved for the redevelopment of the town centre and West Bay esplanade, and the town’s Colquhoun Square will become an open space, able to host outdoor events.
The tender process will now begin with work due to start in late February 2012 and finish in early May 2013.
Councillor Gary Mulvaney, board member of the Helensburgh CHORD project, said: “This is arguably the most significant decision taken for Helensburgh since Argyll and Bute Council came into existence in 1996. Independent assessors have concluded that this project has the potential to support and grow the area’s business base and act as a catalyst for attracting new investment, as well as helping to attract new residents and increase visitor numbers. I’m sure every town in the country would jump at such an opportunity, particularly in the current challenging economic climate.”
When work starts in Helensburgh next year, contractors will upgrade the “streetscape” in the town centre’s main shopping areas and outside the town’s Central Station.
Work is expected to start next year, when contractor will upgrade the town centre and area outside Central Station, and improve signs which guide visitors.
Despite the whining heard from some sectors regarding financing and spending cuts these days, it’s nice to see that Historic Scotland is still able to help look after our built heritage.
Some £1 million worth of funding has just been announced to help six historic buildings remain active within their communities:
Drum Castle (Aberdeen) receives almost £466 k to help it function as a wedding venue.
Craigston Castle (Aberdeen) will get almost £250 k as part of a sustainable tourism project.
Stirling’s Smith Art Gallery also gets around £250 k to assist with its plans for expansion.
Dunoon’s Burgh Halls will be aided by £160 k.
The Haining Estate in the Borders gets almost £37.5 k, to become a contemporary arts, music and literature centre, following its donation to the community after the owner’s death in 2009.
Ullapool Museum will receive around £14 k, and will continue as a community resource.
I always find my eye drawn to tourism stories in advance of 2015, when we will learn if the Scottish Government’s decree for a 50% increase by 2015 was delivered.
Being an industrial type (by which I just mean my business was engineering, not tourism) I always what sort of numbers are involved in the plans intended to work towards this aim.
A recent story regarding some plans in the south of Scotland puts some numbers into the pot for consideration.
I have to say I am impressed, and the thought of getting £50 million back over three years for an input of £3 million is a cosy one – if it is delivered. I would expect a queue of backers wanting to sign up.
A council is being asked to approve a funding package to support a £3m project designed to boost tourism across the south of Scotland.
Dumfries and Galloway Council would put £426,000 into the scheme with Scottish Borders Council and VisitScotland.
It is estimated additional visitor revenue of more than £50m could be generated by the three-year project.
It would also create more than 20 new jobs and safeguard about 900 posts across the region.
The specific focus of the plan is to market the area as a tourist destination outside the summer season.
How the tourism funding package is broken down
* £1,114,037 – VisitScotland
* £426,000 – Dumfries and Galloway Council
* £184,500 – Scottish Borders Council
* £1,288,913 – ERDF grant
* £3,013,450 – Total
Read more in the original story via BBC News – South of Scotland tourism plan seeks financial backing.
It doesn’t seem to matter what the story is, or what the involvement is, but I really can’t work up any enthusiasm or support for National Park Authorities (NPA). They seem to be good at promoting themselves, and making sure they have a reason (in their own eyes) for being.
This time, I find my first thought regarding some cash handouts from the European Union is one of “Why is the NPA getting any – it’s not a community”. The communities that should be benefiting from receiving the total cash handout lie within the NPA. I can just about understand a council getting some, as it has a responsibility to the communities it is serves, and we can see what return is to be had for the cash concerned, but not so in the case of the NPA.
Looking at the cash breakdown…
Laggan Community Association received £17,100 and will use part of this to launch WiFi in its area.
Glen Tanar Estate received £15,943 and will upgrade Aboyne telephone exchange, Aberdeenshire.
These improvements will provide broadband access.
Cairngorms Mountain Rescue Association received £10,000 and will buy a new 4×4 ambulance.
Highland Council received £5,000 to be spent on play equipment in Aviemore and Carrbridge.
Abernethy Old Kirk Association received £4,980 and will repair stonework and seal the kirk against the weather.
The Cairngorms NPA will receive a total of £17.715 which will be spent on a Landscape Partnership Feasibility Study project and a junior ranger exchange scheme.
Sorry, but compared to those listed above, there is no tangible or material benefit for any of the communities in the area. Money spent on a study merely produces some paper (and justifies someone’s job) and while a ‘junior ranger exchange scheme’ may be nice, once it’s over, again there is no tangible result to show for the spend.
So, to my tired old eyes, the NPA has frittered away an amount of money that a community could have used to by hardware to improve broadband delivery, or repair some building at risk.
Not good value at all.
One of the best sights I’ve enjoyed over the years has been the approach to Rothesay aboard the ‘Big’ ferry, as it passes the various mansions and villas along Mount Stuart road on its final approach to the pier, and the town’s unmistakable waterfront.
You can find many more views of this area of Rothesay in Zak’s Reflections Photo Gallery.
I can’t say exactly when, perhaps a decade or two (maybe even longer as my perception of anything further back than about five years is vague to say the least), the buildings along Argyle Street and behind the esplanade benefited from something of a tidy up, and a splash of paint, and looked all the better for it.
Since then, without criticism, it’s probably fair to say that the pot must have run dry after that, as there was little maintenance carried out afterwards, and the salty sea air took it toll over the years. A number of shops, and some dwellings, were given up, becoming abandoned and derelict, with some having been demolished in recent years due to their dangerous condition, and the start of 2011 being marked by reports of pieces falling into the street, and just missing pedestrians.
Thankfully, there is now news of both funds and help to assist with local efforts to restore the town’s waterfront view, following an announcement by Scotland’s Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop.
Historic Scotland’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme will be contributing towards the Townscape Heritage Initiative, and a sum of £499,933 will be available to help with Argyll and Bute Council’s plans for what has been described as ‘Scotland’s largest conservation area’.
Together with the straight funding, the council and building owners gain access to expertise and guidance, and residents within the conservation area regeneration scheme will be able to apply for grants in the summer.
Perhaps I’ll manage to make the trip this year. Ever since I made the mistake of tempting fate by making arrangements to meet some friends on the island a few years ago, I have singularly failed to make what had been something of an annual ‘away day’ ever since, as various mishaps have conspired to thwart ‘best laid plans. White Van Man even managed to ruin my car one year – and he was going backwards when he did it! And that was just after I managed to fix the damage one of Argyll’s deer had done the year before.
While I would have to admit that I am not a fan of jazz music, that doesn’t mean to say I’m not a fan of a good day out, or of folk enjoying their own particular interest – and I won’t even qualify that by adding ‘so long as they do it quietly‘.
I’d also have to admit the festival is also something I have never seen in all my years of visiting the island. I’m either too early, and have often been there in April, days before it begins, or just to late, and have just missed it, but not the slightly lost looking folk who can then be seen wandering around, complete with their instruments as they prepare to depart.
It seems to have suffered a double blow for this year, as I first spotted a news story of some sort of row between one of the island’s best known local performers, singer Jenny Brown, and a local group, The Bute Jazz Friends. Although I’ve noted my non-interest in the music itself, I became aware of Jenny Brown some years ago, as a highly colourful character who could be seen at the head of the festival parade, and featured in many photographs of the event. It seems she started singing on Bute when she was 16, and makes no secret of her age now, 83.
You can see the event pics in this gallery, and you don’t need any help from me to work out which one is Jenny, or how much fun everyone is having:
I certainly don’t know the details, but after Jenny referred to being notified by letter that her services were no longer required by the group, without apparently even discussing the matter, it seems that the group moved things to a new level, and accused her of ‘declining competence’, and complaining that her performances had become been littered with more and more mistakes over the last two years, and accusing her of blaming the resulting “musical mess” on the members of the band.
To me, the whole thing stinks, as the Bute Jazz Friends have since said the letter and comments were a band decision, and not down to any individual, presumably so that whoever is ultimately responsible can hide behind the group. There are ways to go about some jobs, and this is not the way to go about this one, whatever the reason may have been for the group’s dissatisfaction, if dissatisfaction it was, and not something else,
Read more details at:
Where the relevant letters have also been published in the printed version.
Jazz Festival cancelled for 2011 – maybe?
As if the above was not enough of a tale of woe for the island, it seems that a lack of available funding/sponsorship ahead of the event has led to the cancellation of the island’s jazz festival in 2011.
In a statement issued by the festival committee, the following explanation was given:
In the present difficult economic climate, funders have to deal with unprecedented numbers of applications for funding. Decisions are taking much longer and we have already had several applications declined. We are presently awaiting a funding decision from Argyll and Bute Council, which is expected in March 2011. In view of the short time period between funding decisions being received and the usual event date of the May holiday weekend, we regret that there is insufficient time to arrange and advertise an event for the 2011 May Bank Holiday as in previous years. We are currently in discussions with new sponsors and hope that our on-going funding applications will be successful, which will allow our efforts to be directed to restoring the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival for 2012.
Read more at:
This has already been pointed as being a potentially bad way to start the year on an island that is dependent on tourism, and there could be further effects throughout the season, as it seems unlikely that later visits in the year are not inspired by the good memories and stories told by those who had a good time earlier.
You thought I’d forgotten, but you’re not getting away without being treated to one of Zak’s excellent pics, and I’ve selected a candid moment captured at the event (this is actually from 2009, since the sun declined to attend in 2010), with Jenny visible just to the right of the action, in the blue tartan jacket and white trousers, in conjunction with a sash in recognition of 2009 being the year of Homecoming Scotland.
Update 1 – Emergency meeting called regarding cancellation decision
We received the following comment regarding the cancellation announcement, and a local meeting to consider possible solutions:
“In view of the announcement made last week by the Bute Jazz Festival Committee, that the festival for 2011 would be cancelled, an emergency meeting has been arranged for Wednesday 26th January at 7:30pm in the Victoria Hotel to examine the possibilities of reversing this decision.
The meeting will be open to the general public, but primarily the business community, and the format of the meeting will be to deal with the way forward for the jazz festival by suggestions or offers of assistance.”
Yet more here:
Update 2 – Local community rallies to save 2011 Jazz Festival
In one of those rare occasion where there really will be dancing in the streets, Wednesday’s online edition of The Buteman carried the news that the Isle of Bute 2011 Jazz Festival will take place, and run from Friday, April 29, until Sunday, May 1.
As a result of the emergency meeting held last week, the community raised £13,000 of the required £15,000 target set to help meet the cost of running the event – in only one week. A remarkable achievement. Although there was a shortfall, the organising committee decided to acknowledge the effort and commitment made, and announced the return of the festival to the calendar.
Committee member Tim Saul told The Buteman:
Due to the measure of support received since the committee’s previous decision, the decision has been made to go ahead with a jazz festival from April 29 until May 1 this year. The members of the committee would like to express their sincere thanks to the community of Bute – both businesspeople and individuals who have contributed financially and those who have come forward with offers of practical help. We would welcome contributions from anyone who has not yet donated, because the more support we have, the bigger and better an event we will be able to put on.
Donations may still be made in person at the High Street offices of Rothesay law firm Wm Skelton & Co, or online at the festival’s website:
Update 3 – Sour grapes over allocation of funds
It’s nice to see that even when there is good news to be had, there will be someone who can turn it into bad news, even within a small island community.
Just like being in the big city.
I am not even going to try and summarise this piece of nonsense, lest I appear to be taking one side or another.