For years we have brought you photographs, videos and tales of the abandoned buildings of Scotland. One thing we always hear from you is the question “why can it not be saved?”. Saving one of these buildings would be a dream come true for us, but thats a story for another day. In the meantime we thought we would bring you the story of a grand Scottish Castle, Balintore Castle to be precise, which was left to decay, but was fortunately purchased and is now being restored to its former grandeur by a careful owner.
Balintore Castle was built in the mid to late 1800s and was commissioned by David Lyon (MP) as a sporting lodge. It was designed by the architect William Burns, who’s other work includes Edinburgh Academy and the Church of St John the Evangelist, also in Edinburgh. It is reported that a tower house named Balintor existed on the site since the late 16th century.
We were invited up the castle by David who, with the help of the local council, rescued the castle from a Taiwanese businessman, who was the last owner in a long line who failed to maintain and repair it for decades. David gave us a lesson on the history of the castle and the compulsory purchase order system which helped him acquire it in the end. David’s enthusiasm for the project is infectious. The scale and financial commitment to such a project petrifies me, but David seems to take this in his stride.
The castle has had a rollercoaster of a life. Built by a politician who had inherited a fortune thanks to his family’s investments in the East India Company, to being abandoned due to extensive dry rot in the 1960s. Balintore Castle exchanged hands several times over the subsequent years until 1994 when it was purchased by a Taiwanese businessman. Initial reports were favourable that the castle would be saved however the years drew by with nothing being done to try and salvage what was left of it. The castle was badly vandalised and the roof was long since watertight, with the lead stripped from every and any accessible part of the castle. As a result, one of the main features of Balintore Castle, the huge bay windows on the east side collapsed and was left to lie as rubble next to the building.
The drive up to the castle built the anticipation nicely. Small, winding country roads taking you further into the countryside with every mile. As you approach the castle you can see it sitting on the side of the hill, looking down upon your typical Scottish glen. It is clear that building work is ongoing immediately, with scaffolding surrounding one corner of the castle.
A few years after its purchase there was a glimmer of hope for the decaying structure. The council issued a Repairs Notice on the owner from the Far East, however this went unanswered. The council then attempted to compulsory purchase the castle, which after a few years of objections being made and withdrawn, eventually went through. It was then sold to its current owner David who took on what can only be described as a mammoth task to restore the building to its former grandeur.
Work has steadily progressed since David took on the project with the building once again sealed to the elements. Slowly and carefully, room by room, floor by floor the building is beginning to look like a castle again, which is a magnificent sight to behold. The remnants of the huge bay window have been gathered up in preparation for what will be one giant jigsaw puzzle when putting it back together.