A campaign to restore a beautiful Scottish castle to its former glory gets underway next week.
Nestling in the bay of Loch Scresort on the island of Rum, Kinloch Castle is surrounded by a shelter belt of trees, planted at the same time as the castle was built. It is an impressive and intriguing sight as you approach the island.
But it is in a sad state of disrepair, having become unloved as time has gone by.
But that’s about to change, as the Kinloch Castle Friends Association was formed in 1996, has the aim of preserving this magnificent building, its contents and encouraging people to visit.
At their AGM in 2017, due to the increasingly rapid deterioration of the castle, it was decided to apply to Scottish Natural Heritage, the current owners of the castle, for an asset transfer with a view to reopening the hostel, bar and bistro, meaning that a greater number of people could visit and stay on Rum.
The Friends are now preparing to launch their Crowdfunding appeal on Monday, 14 January, at noon.
Much work has already been undertaken towards achieving their goal. A business plan has been prepared and is currently with SNH, who continue discussions with KCFA, a specialist in the restoration of historic buildings has also been employed to look at all the aspects of building and restoration work that will be required.
All the work involved in applying for asset transfer, requires funding. In addition to surveyors, roofers and a range of other trades, KCFA also require funding for legal and accountancy costs.
A spokesman said: ‘We need to raise money to help pay for ongoing costs as we work nearer to asset transfer and are initially aiming for £10,000. We have some excellent rewards to tempt people.
‘Our updated business plan is nearly ready to go in to SNH once more. SNH meanwhile have repaired the problem which was causing massive water ingress into the basement.’
To date, KCFA has applied to a range of funding organisations and are looking to attract more members.
The reopening of the hostel, bar and bistro is only phase one of KCFA’s business plan, over time, it is planned to open hotel style rooms and restore the fabric and fittings of the castle.
Built by an immensely wealthy Lancashire industrialist, George Bullough just as the 19th century came to close, the castle once boasted much cutting edge technology, such as hydro powered electric lighting, telephones and luxurious baths with many jets that sprayed from many angles.
No expense was spared in the castle and it soon became home to artefacts from all over the world most of which can still be seen today. The gardens and surrounding environs were of a similar high standard. Even alligators and turtles had a home at Kinloch Castle. Humming birds reputedly flew around the hot houses; exotic indeed.
Kinloch Castle was used primarily as a shooting lodge, where prestigious guests would be hosted in luxury. Red deer trophies are still in place on the walls.
After World War I, society changed and so things on Rum also began to change. Sir George died in 1939 and so began the slow decline of Kinloch Castle.
After 1957, ownership of the island changed as it was bought by the government as a national nature reserve latterly under the management of Scottish Natural Heritage. The public could visit and stay, as the castle became a hotel. The rear area of the building and attic areas were used as a hostel, where hillwalkers, groups and individuals interested in outdoor activities could stay. Many people will have fond memories of that time.
However, in 2013, the hostel facility in the castle was closed, although tours of the public rooms and some of the bedrooms continue to be given over the summer months, right up to the present day.
With no one living in the castle, it was not heated or aired to the same extent as when it was occupied and problems that had been building over the years continued to affect the structure and magnificent contents.
Find out more from the website www.kinlochcastlefriends.org.