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AM Demands Action to Save Historic Castle



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July 4th 2002

By Gareth Hughes, Daily Post Staff

URGENT action was yesterday demanded to save a medieval North Wales castle from falling into further disrepair.

The call by Clwyd West AM Alun Pugh comes almost four years after the owners of Ruthin Castle faced enforcement action for neglecting the remains.

Ever since then the owners have been waiting to discuss the matter with officials of Cadw, the body responsible for historic monuments, and Denbighshire County Council.

The council first threatened action against the castle's owners in 1998 for allowing it to fall into disrepair.

The medieval remains, including walls, towers and gatehouse, are Grade 1 listed buildings, and stand within the grounds of the Victorian hotel. Both the hotel buildings and gardens are Grade II.

Councillors were told three years ago a five-metre top section of the medieval wall had collapsed and that officials of Cadw were increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress.

But a spokesman for the Warburton family, which has owned the castle since the 1960s, claimed at the time that while their priority was to maintain the hotel buildings, Cadw officials had been unhelpful in their efforts to find a solution to the problem.

The council deferred enforcement action to examine ways of setting up a partnership to fund the work.

Three years on, the walls have still not been repaired and there is growing concern about their condition.

According to a new report to councillors, Cadw has agreed to meet the full cost of a survey and experts are considering setting up a Trust with access to grants. It says: " Officers are continuing to negotiate with all interested parties to find a solution."

One of the problems is that Cadw invariably requires some form of public access to properties receiving grants - and the medieval sections of Ruthin Castle are normally closed to the public.

Denbighshire County Council archaeologist Fiona Gale said yesterday: "Most people who visit the hotel do not see the medieval sections but they are quite substantial. They are a hidden gem and it would nice if more people could see them."

Hotel manager Kevin Clayton, a director of the company, said: "We know nothing of the report and have heard nothing from Denbighshire or Cadw since we agreed in principle to the setting up of a Trust in

1998. We were prepared to discuss with Cadw ways of allowing public access."

Yesterday Alun Pugh said: "There are number of Grade 1 listed sites in my constituency giving cause for concern. Cadw have responsibilities to protect such structures as Gwrych Castle in Abergele and Ruthin Castle.

"I will be writing to Cadw to find out how they intend to protect these historic buildings in the future."

A Cadw spokeswoman said: "We are yet to receive an application for a grant in relation to Ruthin Castle."

©Mark Baker 2003