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Words and pictures by Colin Smeeton
A good turnout of invited guests attended the official opening of Brodick Castle last Saturday to see for themselves how the property has been upgraded.
The reopening comes two years after the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) closed the castle while essential fire safety upgrades took place. Capitalising on the downtime NTS chiefs used the opportunity to modernise and update the castle with an extensive programme of upgrades for the popular tourist attraction.
While the castle has been receiving guests since the beginning of April, bosses chose the Tales from Brodick Castle weekend to host the official opening event.
Operations manager Jared Bowers welcomed the visitors to the celebration held, in bright sunshine, on the manicured lawn under a white marquee where guests mingled and sipped champagne.
After a short introduction and welcome, Jared handed over to Sheila Gilmore, executive director of VisitArran, who praised him for all of the hard work that had been put in over the last two years and congratulated everyone involved in the project for the high quality of the offering and the huge part that it plays in tourism on Arran.
Visitors and invited guests were then invited to have a look at the castle itself which celebrated the opening with a Victorian ball theme which included a number of period characters – including Princess Marie of Baden who threw a ball in 1845 to celebrate the new extension of the castle being completed.
Through the use of audio-visual presentations, interactive displays and the period actors, visitors experienced the historic collections – including the world-famous Beckford Collection – which all helped to bring the story of the stately home and its occupants to life.
Jared told the Banner: ‘We’ve had very positive feedback about the new castle visitor experience, and the property as a whole, and are grateful for the all of the support we’ve received from the organisations we’ve worked with. We have a fantastic programme of events planned and look forward to sharing our stunning property with all visitors to Arran.’
With the addition of the Victorian arcade, mood lighting, children focussed activities and a new gift shop, the castle, gardens and the Isle Be Wild children’s playpark, Brodick Castle and Country Park has once again re-established itself as one of the top tourist attractions on Arran.
Jennifer Dougan, Connie McCrone, Olivia Young and Aimee Clint looked the part dressed in their finest Victorian outfits. 01_B19castle01
Arran Community and Voluntary Service operations manager, Carol Kane, chief executive officer, Vicky Yuill, and executive director of VisitArran, Sheila Gilmore, enjoy a celebratory drink in the sunshine. 01_B19castle02
Operations manager Jared Bowers welcomes all of the guests to the official opening of Brodick Castle. 01_B19castle03
Executive director of VisitArran, Sheila Gilmore, addressed the visitors and offered high praise for the quality of the work at Brodick Castle. 01_B19castle04
Visitors and invited guests enjoy the spring sunshine in the manicured gardens. 01_B19castle05
They key to the castle, Sheila Gilmore and Jared Bowers officially open the castle. 01_B19castle06
VIP guests, MSP Kenneth Gibson and MP Patricia Gibson attended the opening of Brodick Castle. 01_B19castle07
Guests learn about the history of the castle from costumed actors playing the parts of its previous inhabitants. 01_B19castle08
Visitor May Crawford shares a laugh with Princess Marie expertly portrayed by Ruxandra Cantir. 01_B19castle09
Children enjoy a tactile model of the castle and its additions through the ages. 01_B19castle10
A friendly and welcoming housekeeper, Heather Johnston directed visitors to some of the attractions in the opulent drawing room. 01_B19castle11
Vistors look round the new-look castle kitchen. 01_B19castle12