Historic Scotland: Rowallan Old Castle to be converted into unique hotel accommodation, while maintaining the historic integrity of the building

EDINBURGH, Scotland, 2015-2-23 — /Travel PR News/ — The first steps in paving the way for the conversion of Rowallan Old Castle into a key feature of a top class tourist destination in Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire was announced today (Friday 20 February).

Following negotiations between Historic Scotland, Rowallan Castle’s owner Niall Campbell, and East Ayrshire Council, Scottish Ministers today announced their intention that the Old Castle is to be removed from state guardianship. This will allow the owner to progress plans for the building’s sympathetic conversion into unique hotel accommodation, as part of the Rowallan Castle Golf Course and Country Club, while maintaining the historic integrity of the building.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs was at the castle to make the announcement. Ms Hyslop  said: “One of the key priorities of Scotland’s recently introduced Historic Environment Strategy, Our Place in Time, is that we have to be ambitious and innovative in our approach to the historic environment. Change is an inevitable part of this and the important thing is how we manage this change – there has to be a balance between protection and innovation. I believe that, thanks to the collaborative working between local government, the castle owner and Historic Scotland, we’ve been able to achieve the correct balance and I look forward to seeing the re-use of the building acting as a catalyst for enhancing economic and social wellbeing in the area.”

“Scottish Ministers remain absolutely committed to conserving Rowallan Old Castle as a nationally significant monument for future generations to enjoy.  This step will pave the way for an innovative and productive partnership between the national agency, the local authority and the building’s owner which will be in the best interests of the monument and the local economy.”

Niall Campbell, the Castle’s owner said: “I’m absolutely delighted with today’s announcement. We’ve come a long way in getting to this point and there’s still a bit of work to be done . Thanks to positive discussions with Historic Scotland and East Ayrshire Council, I’m now in a position to progress with plans to convert the building into something which can be lived in, using minimal intervention, in a sympathetic manner that is consistent with the building’s history and cultural significance.

“The end result will be a wonderful new space for visitors to the area, which retains all of the features that make the castle so special, and will be a benefit to the local community for years to come. I’m sure that my distant relation, James Muir Campbell, who lived in the house seven generations ago, would be proud of what we’re trying to do.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “Tourism is key to the East Ayrshire economy, and an integral part of this Council’s economic development plan is to build on our existing tourist product. To that end we are delighted to be able to work with Mr Campbell to add another option for top class accommodation in the area. Building on the recent success story of Dumfries House, and the work we have done with Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes in all our major town centres,  today’s announcement will undoubtedly add to East Ayrshire’s growing reputation for history, heritage and outdoor tourism, as well as creating jobs and bringing money into the area.”

Rowallan has attracted the wider attention of architects and experts in the heritage sector in recent years.

Neil Baxter, Secretary and Treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland said: “The sympathetic restoration and adaptation of historic buildings to new uses is in everyone’s interests. It recognises that such buildings provide literal touchstones to our shared past, ensures their preservation for future generations to enjoy, provides employment and helps deliver a viable economic future for Scotland’s communities. It is often challenging to achieve all of this, but undoubtedly worth the effort.”

Mr Campbell’s proposal includes converting the Old Castle into an exclusive annex of the current 5 star Rowallan Castle and Golf Country Club. The annex will comprise of 4 double bedrooms, dining room, lounge gallery and lounge sitting room (solar). Work is expected to get underway in Summer 2015 and take around 12 months to complete.

In order to provide for the future conservation and management of the building a detailed, 30 year conservation plan has been agreed upon, which includes conservation and maintenance stipulations as well as public access requirements. The plan was proposed by Mr Campbell and prepared by leading conservation architects with experience of working with historical buildings. The agreement is legally binding and would apply to any future owner or owners of the building during the 30 year period. Guardianship will only be rescinded once Scottish Ministers are satisfied that all these terms have been met.

Rowallan Old Castle dates from the 13th – 18th centuries and lies close to Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire.  It is situated within the grounds of Rowallan Castle Golf and Country Club. The site consists of the ruined remains of historic structures and an important 16-18th roofed and habitable domestic range.

Scottish Ministers are guardians of Rowallan Old Castle by virtue of a Guardianship Agreement dating back to 1950, when it was passed into State care by the Rowallan family. Guardianship gives ministers the responsibility for repair and maintenance as well as presentation of a site. Historic Scotland currently look after the castle on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

Notes to editors

  • Historic Scotland holds 345 properties in care or guardianship to ensure their long-term preservation for the public benefit.
  • Rowallan Old Castle dates from the 13th – 18th centuries and lies close to Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire.  It is situated within the grounds of Rowallan Castle Golf and Country Club which has been developed over many years by the estate’s owner, Mr Niall Campbell. The estate comprises a 5 star exclusive use hotel within the A-listed Rowallan New Castle, a golf course and a club house and restaurant within the estate’s historic walled garden. Rowallan Old Castle sits nearby and consists of the ruined remains of historic structures and an important 16-18th roofed and habitable domestic range all of which is also in the ownership of Mr Campbell.
  • Rowallan Old Castle came into guardianship in January 1950, when the current management arrangement was agreed with the 2nd Baron Rowallan [Thomas Godfrey Polson Corbett KT, KBE, MC, TD (1895 – 1977)]
  • f all the conditions have been met the current guardianship agreement will be terminated on 1 April 2015. Although there is a firm commitment from both Scottish Ministers and the Castle’s owner to terminating the existing arrangement, the Section 17 Agreement committing the current and future owners to conserving the monument has yet to be signed and Scheduled Monument Consent allowing the conversion to take place has not been issued. Guardianship will end on 1 April when all the formalities are completed, but guardianship will not be terminated unless and until they are in place
  • Section 14 of the 1979 Act provides that the Scottish Ministers may renounce guardianship of the monument by agreement with the persons who are immediately affected by the operation of the guardianship deed (in this case you as owner of the monument).  Scottish Ministers are clear that guardianship of a monument under the 1979 Act is expected to be a long-term arrangement designed to preserve nationally significant monuments in the interests of future generations.  In terms of section 14(3)(a) the Scottish Ministers may not agree to terminate guardianship of a monument unless they are satisfied—
  • (a) that satisfactory arrangements have been made for ensuring its preservation after termination of guardianship; or
  • (b) that it is no longer practicable to preserve it.
  • Mr Campbell has previously worked on heritage projects, in association with Historic Scotland, namely on the Rotundas in Glasgow, which have been successfully refurbished
  • Mr Campbell has also received Civic Trust awards for the Mews Arcade in Glasgow’s West End and housing in one of only two planned listed towns at Straiton, as well as being involved in the sensitive refurbishment of other important buildings such as the Edinburgh College of Art, Northern Lighthouse Headquarters, Edinburghand many others
  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.
  • 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success. Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism. A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat. To find out more visit www.visitscotland.com/tastescotland.

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For further information
Alan Bannon, Media & PR Officer
Historic Scotland Media Office
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805


Historic Scotland: Rowallan Old Castle to be converted into unique hotel accommodation, while maintaining the historic integrity of the building

Historic Scotland: Rowallan Old Castle to be converted into unique hotel accommodation, while maintaining the historic integrity of the building