Fiona Reynolds, Director General for the National Trust has launched an urgent public appeal to raise £1.5 million to safeguard the future of one of the country’s most iconic buildings – Castle Drogo in Devon.
The castle has suffered major structural problems ever since completion which have now resulted in serious leaks and water penetration throughout the building.
If extensive conservation is not undertaken, the castle will become inaccessible and a national treasure will be lost forever.
Castle Drogo is the last castle to have been built in Britain, between 1911 and 1931, by the renowned architect Edwin Lutyens.
It was built for Julius Drewe, a food retailing magnate, whose dream was to have an imposing granite fortress that would appear to have existed for hundreds of years.
By contrast, the inside offered the ultimate in modern living and convenience with all the technology and comforts of the age.
Plans to preserve the castle include the renovation of the massive flat roof structure using cutting-edge materials to make it permanently watertight.
This will be conservation on a grand scale. In order to install the new roof system, 2355 granite blocks weighing 680 tonnes will have to be removed and then returned. Some 900 windows containing over 13,000 panes will be refurbished to stop them leaking and over 60,000 metres of pointing will need to be replaced.
A key aim of the project will be the involvement of local people. There will be opportunities for learning new skills such as masonry, joinery and furniture-making and exciting ways for volunteers to take part in their local heritage.
The future of the castle will also include new learning and exhibition spaces and opportunities to explore the estate’s extensive grounds on Dartmoor.
The full cost of the conservation project will be £11 million over 5 years and the Trust is making approaches to various funding bodies, including a £2.5 million application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), to reach the target.
However, a successful response from the public appeal will allow the first crucial stages of work to get underway.
Adrian Colston, Dartmoor General Manager for the National Trust said: “During the course of this year we will be talking to local people and our supporters about how they can get involved in helping save one of the country’s historic treasures.
“The castle is regarded as a masterpiece of 20th century architecture but its future is now hanging in the balance.
“This is our last chance for Castle Drogo and we urge our supporters across the country to help us raise the money we need to ensure its survival.”
To support the campaign to save Castle Drogo visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/savedrogo you can also follow the Castle Drogo campaign on twitter at www.twitter.com@savecastledrogo and on facebook at www.facebook.com/savecastledrogo