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26/09/03

Gwrych Castle Book Review

By Nick Ellis of the Abergele Visitor

Archive News

IF ONLY THE WALLS HAD EARS

Tuesday 26 August 2003 7.30 pm to 8.00 pm ITV1Wales

Mark Baker used to pass by the magnificent Gwrych Castle overlooking Abergele in North Wales every day on his way to school. He was only nine when he first fell in love with it a passion fated to last.

Now 18, he is doing all he can to save this neo-Gothic folly from becoming nothing more than a pile of Grade One listed rubble his third book about it was published only a few weeks ago. Mark reveals just why he feels so strongly about Gwrych in IF ONLY THE WALLS HAD EARS, a four-part series about famous Welsh buildings with fascinating stories to tell.

Once a romantic home with palatial gardens, Gwrych has now been reduced to a ruinous state. But Mark, an authority on its colourful past, is determined to spare it further neglect. In his years of campaigning to save the building, he has involved even the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Tony Blair, inspiring them and many others with his enthusiasm.

At his home in nearby Prestatyn, Mark has accumulated thousands of photographs and documents relating to the castles 200-year-old history. Mark says: Everyone I meet seems keen to see this remarkable building preserved, so why have the authorities done so little? And what of the mysterious absentee landlord who owns the estate but apparently sits back while it falls into decay?

Mark recalls the days when he first set eyes on the castle and, as he prepares to start a university course in history, talks of his hopes for the future of Gwrych.

IF ONLY THE WALLS HAD EARS is an ITV1Wales production produced and directed by David Vickerman. The executive producer is Bruce Kennedy.

This programme is subtitled. Teletext page 888.

©Mark Baker 2003