Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rùm

Located on the Isle of Rùm off the west coast of Scotland, Kinloch Castle was built between 1897 and 1900 as a private summer residence for Sir George Bullough, who inherited the island and a fortune from his father, textile industrialist John Bullough. The castle is constructed out of red sandstone brought in from Annan in Dumfriesshire, and was the first private residence to make use of electricity, and sustainable energy at that, with a dam on the Coire Dubh burn generating hydroelectricity.

Today the castle is listed as a Category A building on Scotland’s registry of Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas, with the gardens listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. Category A buildings are defined as “buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type.” The castle is owned and run by Scottish Natural Heritage with the support of the Kinloch Castle Friends Association.

Timed to coincide with the ferry services from Mallaig and Arisaig, guided tours of the principle wing of Kinloch Castle take place daily between 2 April and late October each year. Starting from the steps at the front of the castle, the tour takes around an hour and includes a viewing of the Grand Hall, complete with bronze statue of an eagle, as well as the antique Steinway piano, stained glass windows, inglenook fireplaces, lavishly decorated bedrooms with four poster beds, silk wall coverings and elaborate woodwork by skilled craftsmen.

On display too is the electrically driven Orchestrion – a machine that plays perforated card rolls to produce orchestral music. Technically advanced for its time it was constructed by Imhof & Mukle in Germany, reportedly for Queen Victoria who had intended to have it installed in Balmoral Castle. However the Queen died before the machine had been completed and it landed up at Kinloch Castle, being one of the few from that era still known to be in working order. The ballroom, with its minstrels’ gallery, magnificent chandelier, and sprung dance floor, was used for entertainment back in the day when Kinloch Castle was a family summer home.