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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Prince hears plans to save castle
Kinloch Castle was built in 1897
Kinloch Castle was built with no expense spared in 1897
Prince Charles has visited the Hebridean island of Rum to learn about plans to save a historic castle.

The prince became involved in efforts to preserve Kinloch Castle after it narrowly missed out on a 3m makeover prize on BBC 2's Restoration show.

The "fantasy" castle was built by a wealthy Lancashire industrialist more than 100 years ago.

A trust backed by Prince Charles outlined a number of options to bring the castle back into productive use.

One option for its restoration is to convert part of it into the most remote exclusive flats in the country.

The castle was built as a summer palace in 1897 for the multi-millionaire George Bullough.

Alligators and turtles

Money was no object and Bullough made his fantasy castle as ostentatious on the inside as it was on the outside.

It is thought to be the finest surviving Edwardian interior in the UK.

The castle had every technological gadget imaginable including central heating, hydro-electric power for his electric lighting and the orchestrion - a complicated early jukebox complete with real drums and trumpets.

The gardens contained heated pools for Bullough's menagerie of alligators and tropical turtles.

There's a lot of people in the public who showed a lot of interest in the castle
David McLennan

However, the years have not been kind to Kinloch and current owner Scottish Natural Heritage has been paying 65,000 a year just to keep it wind and watertight.

SNH's David McLennan said: "Rum's a national nature reserve and we're getting about 10,000 visitors a year who want to come to see the castle.

"There's a lot of people in the public who showed a lot of interest in the castle and for that reason it's important that we preserve it for the nation."

Mr McLennan said the draft proposals for renovation still had to go to the SNH's main board.

'Magnificent' interiors

SNH has commissioned the Phoenix Trust, which is part of the Prince's Regneration Trust and helps to repair historic buildings in decay, to produce a report on the castle's future.

Phoenix curator Merlin Waterson said the first step would be to secure the building then restore the "magnificent" Edwardian interiors.

He said the prince was interested in the castle because of its value architecturally and to the community.

"What he wants is for people coming to Rum, either on a day visit to the castle or staying here for a night or two or a week, that they should understand that this building is very rare, very precious and get a lot of enjoyment from it."

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