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A bright future for Brodick Castle
We were sorry to read of Michael Smith’s disappointment following his last visit to Brodick Castle (Castle woes, Arran Banner, November 3).
Even a jewel in the crown needs a polish now and then and we can assure Mr Smith that if he returns to Arran next year the situation will be very different. As is often said, the night is darkest before the dawn and because the castle has been shut the impression of inactivity may have been given. However, this is far from the truth.
Readers will be well aware that the castle has been closed for over £1.5 million of vital fire suppression work (the importance of which has been underlined by the tragic events at Glasgow School of Art). The closure has also given us time to re-think how the castle and its collections will be presented in future. More will be revealed by the time the castle re-opens in the springtime – a new approach to experiencing its history and stories. With investment totalling £3 million over the next five years, we aim to bring out the human stories behind the castle and the community, as well as revealing hidden dimensions to the various objects on display.
We are also making significant investment in the castle gardens and grounds, quite apart from the fabulous Isle be Wild play area that Mr Smith mentions. We have created the new Silver Garden which is thematically linked to the castle’s Beckford Collection of silver objects. It also includes sculptures specially created by Sally Matthews and based on Arran’s legendary White Stag. This will be followed by new signage and wayfinding.
Our café and retail areas are in a temporary arrangement at present and they too are about to benefit from a makeover. A new experience is being designed for both, which will play a role in the overall improved visitor experience we will be offering.
Far from being neglected, Brodick Castle is a proving ground for new ideas and visitor experiences. We hope that the people of Arran will join us in 2019 and come to see for themselves what has been achieved.
Brodick Castle, Garden and Country Park,
National Trust for Scotland.
On Christmas Day 1914, my mother, who was 16, received a gift from her father – an autograph album, covered in dark green, soft leather with gilt-edged pages. As she gazed at the bare pages thinking of all the friends who would cover them with poems jokes and signatures, she never dreamt that her family would look at her album 100 years later.
Her father was a captain in the merchant navy-a dangerous occupation in that terrible war, and her mother, my granny, kept an open house for soldiers of the Northumberland Fusiliers stationed in nearby barracks. There they could relax with a cup of tea and a chat by the cosy fire-and, if I am not wrong, a bible reading and a prayer before going back to their bare quarters – I knew my granny!
Many of these young men, boys really, left entries in mum’s album – verses and paintings (not just drawings) showing such great skill and talent, I still marvel at their pictures.
And, here’s the really sad thought, – none of those fine young men returned home from the war. What a waste of lives and talents – but they left a little part of themselves in this album. Is it any wonder we treasure it still, 100 years later.
c/o Ruth Thompson