The business of saving island castle steps up a gear

Time is running out to save a beautiful castle on a Scottish island.

Earlier this year, the Kinloch Castle Friends Association launched an online crowdfunding campaign to try and raise funds which will help to eventually save the building on the Isle of Rum.

And now they are keeping their fundraising going in a bid to save the building, on which construction stared in the last 19th century, from ruin.

They now have a business plan in place, as they look to move their efforts forward.

Kinloch Castle was built as a shooting lodge by industrialist George Bullough, between 1897 and 1901. He had inherited the island from his father, and built the castle of sandstone imported from Arran. He brought in the newest technology of the time, including using hydroelectricity, the scheme still the major provider of power to the island population.

During his ownership the population of Rum rose to over 100 as a managed deer estate with home farm and walled garden supplying much of the food needs for the community. Following his death in 1939 his widow later sold the island in 1957 to the Nature Conservancy as a National Nature Reserve, which continues to this day, now under the management of Scottish Natural Heritage.

The castle has been variously hotel and hostel with tours still available through the summer months of the ‘museum rooms’ which were once the formal rooms of the Bullough family and which are still filled with their contents. The Castle and contents are now in a poor state, taken over by dry rot with the contents suffering from neglect and light damage.

The chimneys leak; the basement suffered flooding for over 12 months causing regular boiler problems; the wiring is still the original, pipework lead, and some rooms have been dismantled roughly with little regard for the contents.

Kinloch Castle Friends Association was set up in 1996 to work to the restoration of the castle, are in process of applying for asset transfer to transform the old hostel rooms into bed and breakfast accommodation with bar and bistro. Due diligence has shown that if KCFA act quickly, the rot can be halted and put right.

A spokesman said: ‘During our original crowdfunding campaign, we successfully raised £3945 with 79 supporters in 41 days. We are now continuing to accept donations to keep repairs going

‘Our window of opportunity for the restoration of Kinloch Castle is closing rapidly, but we hope also comes a stage nearer. Kinloch Castle Friends Association are delighted to present a Summary of our Business Plan which shows that with appropriate restoration and improvements, the Castle can be brought back into life giving it a whole new sustainable future as much needed extra accommodation for the Isle of Rum.’

Inside Kinloch Castle

Accordingly the business plan sets out in detail the full plans to provide 45 beds to increase the accommodation on Rum dramatically. Rum is an island full of interest to both the casual visitor and the enquiring student. The geology is fascinating and varied, the ornithology, plant life, walking and climbing all superb. Currently there is a lack of sufficient overnight accommodation, since the closure of the hostel which was in the castle, so larger groups and university groups are currently unable to visit and there is also a lack of a dedicated study area.

Initially the creation of 45 bed and breakfast beds with bistro and bar will give sufficient returns to be making a profit within the second year of operation. The restoration work will create employment opportunities, as will the catering facility.

Care has been taken to ensure that the accommodation complements rather than competes with the existing provision. Other opportunities for business development within the local community and wider area will naturally follow from expanded accommodation. Profits will be ploughed back into restoring the remainder of the castle enabling further better quality rooms be brought into use. With the development of the MOWI fish farm, extra dwellings on Rum and redevelopment of the castle, the Isle of Rum is looking forward to a very positive future.

Category A listed building Kinloch Castle, currently on the Buildings at Risk register, could be brought back to life, and bring new opportunities for Rum, the Rum community and all who wish to visit.

Read the business plan HERE.

If you want to donate to the fund to save the castle, click HERE.