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A campaign to restore a famous 19th-century hunting lodge in the Small Isles to its former glory got under way this week.
Nestling in the bay of Loch Scresort on the Isle 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 and with no one living in the castle, problems that had been building over the years continued to affect the structure and magnificent contents.
However, that all could change after the Kinloch Castle Friends Association (KCFA), formed in 1996, launched their crowdfunding appeal on Monday, January 14, in an attempt to restore this magnificent old hunting lodge.
At their AGM in 2017, due to the increasingly rapid deterioration of the castle, it was decided to apply to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), 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.
Much work has already been undertaken towards achieving this goal and a business plan has been presented to SNH, which continues 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 is 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, Kinloch Castle was used primarily as a shooting lodge, where prestigious guests would be hosted in luxury. 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 castle once boasted plenty of cutting-edge technology, such as hydro- powered electric lighting, telephones and luxurious baths with lots of jets that sprayed from many angles.
Since the death of Sir George in 1939 the castle began a slow decline and, in 1957, the Isle of Rum was bought by the government as a national nature reserve latterly under the management of Scottish Natural Heritage.
Eventually, 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.
Find out more from the website www.kinlochcastlefriends.org