Isle of Rum topotheque goes live

The island of Rum, including the castle and all the contents, passed into public ownership in 1957 when it became a national nature reserve.

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In what it claims is a UK first, Kinloch Castle Friends Association (KCFA) has launched a topotheque to share the rich history of the castle and the Isle of Rum.

First set up in Austria, a topotheque is an online archive focusing on preserving historical material kept in private hands and making it visible to the public.

Topotheques already exist in a number of different European countries and KCFA believe kinlochcastle-isleofrum.topotheque.net is the first of its kind in this country.

‘It is infinitely expandable and being online mans it is always available,’ said a KCFA spokesperson.

‘It includes photographs, documents and objects. It is linked directly to online mapping which enables the archivist and user to pinpoint accurately specific places.’

The Isle of Rum has a long and fascinating archaeology, history and geology and could be considered a microcosm of the history of the Scottish Highlands. The evidence of the past is to be found all over the island in the rocks that surround the visitor.

The different owners of Rum over the centuries have each left their various marks, from the very early deer traps, the lost dwellings and, from 1897, Kinloch Castle. The castle was built by George Bullough, his father John having bought the island leaving it to his eldest son on his death in 1891.

A textile machinery manufacturer from Accrington in Lancashire, whose firm Howard and Bullough Ltd was based in Globe Works there, John had met his first wife Bertha Stephani nee Schmidlin at the Hotel Giessbach in Switzerland. George built Kinloch Castle as a shooting lodge and filled it with artefacts he brought back from travelling the world. He also took his yacht, the Rhouma, to Cape Town to use as a hospital ship during the South African War.

George married Monica Charrington, nee de la Pasture, the daughter of Gerard Ducarel the Marquis de la Pasture in 1906.

The island of Rum, including the castle and all the contents, passed into public ownership in 1957 when it became a national nature reserve. More modern changes have taken place as the Rum community based in Kinloch village took ownership of the village.

KCFA has been working towards the restoration of the Category-A listed building since 1996 and have a huge archive of photographs and documents of the castle and the island. Much of this will be made accessible through this topotheque.

‘It is our wish to expand this to include as much local and historical information as possible to chart the rich seam that Rum portrays as well as the truly global links,’ added the spokesperson.

Photograph in Fort Week 20 dated folder NO_F20_KinlochCastle1-scaled.jpg