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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 07:40 GMT 08:40 UK
Castle's doors closed to public
Appleby Castle
The castle opened as a visitor attraction in the early 1970s
The doors of a Cumbrian visitor attraction have been closed for the first time in 30 years.

Owner Christopher Nightingale had wanted to run Appleby Castle as a conference and exhibition centre.

But the plans were thrown out in 2001 after a public inquiry and Mr Nightingale says the castle is not viable as it stands.

Tourist managers say the closure of the castle is a major loss to the town and will have a big impact.

Mr Nightingale said he was "bitterly sorry" that he could not open the castle to the public.

Heavily subsidised

He said: "Well quite frankly the castle has been losing money as a visitor attraction for years and years.

"The history of Appleby Castle as a tourist attraction is a good one. It opened in the early 1970s and it was one of the first rare breed survival trusts operations, so it was a very good tourist attraction.

"We had the benefit of both having a conservation centre and of course having a historical building which people found very attractive.

"But not withstanding that, particularly in recent years the number of visitors we have been receiving hasn't been enough by any means to cover the cost of keeping it open."

He said it meant the castle had been heavily subsidised and he said one of the issues was the venue needed updating which is why he had made his proposals to develop it.

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