Highlands & Islands

'Time running out' for damaged Kinloch Castle

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Media captionSir George Bullough held lavish parties at the castle in the late 19th Century

Concerns are growing that time is running out to secure the future of Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum.

Islanders are working with the castle's owner, Scottish Natural Heritage, to find new uses for the building.

The castle was built in the 1890s for one of Britain's richest men, Sir George Bullough, and was famed for its luxurious furnishings, lavish parties and eccentric technical innovations.

These included hothouses containing exotic plants and hummingbirds, showers which shot jets of water from different directions and an automated barrel organ known as an orchestrion.

But in recent years, the castle has suffered from a series of leaks, collapsed ceilings and woodworm.

There are concerns the building could be more seriously damaged unless funding is found for a major restoration project.

Image caption The castle was furnished with luxurious items

Sarah Bentley of Scottish National Heritage told BBC Scotland: "We've spent £1.5m over the last five years on repairs, particularly to the roof. Our focus is on getting the castle wind and watertight.

"The difficulty we've got is that we don't have a fixed budget for the castle, so we have to find money out of our overall budget.

"We know what Kinloch Castle means to Rum's past, but we don't know what it will mean to the island's future.

"We've got to work out what's financially achievable in the short term and, more importantly, whether it's financially sustainable in the long term."

Islanders are discussing with SNH how best to secure the future of the castle, which attracts visitors from around the world.

But there's also a debate about whether the money needed to restore it could be better spent on community projects on Rum.

Nic Goddard, who lives on the island with her young family said: "Local people would love to see the castle being turned into some kind of events venue, somewhere people could come and capture the romance of visiting a pink castle on a remote Scottish island.

"But it has to be an economically viable business, bringing tourist trade to the small businesses on the island and carry on being what George Bullough built all those year ago, but brought into the 21st century."

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