IT HAS been a year since a derelict castle was bought by a trust spearheaded by a historian who has been under its spell for decades.

Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust bought the site in June 2018. The purchase was able to go ahead after National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) stepped in with a grant of £600,000.

A major grant was also received from the Richard Broyd Charitable Trust.

Rhyl Journal:

Coach House at Gwrych Castle in 1910

Rhyl Journal:

Coach House at Gwrych Castle in 2008

It was a year come true for Dr Mark Baker, chair of the Trust, who as a child would pass the castle everyday to and from school.

Aged 11, the campaigner founded the castle trust and 22 years later, the castle is starting to come back to life and is becoming more accessible to the public.

Dr Baker said: "The first task was the emergency works, to stop further deterioration. We've also opened up more of the grounds to the public which we hadn't been in a position to do before.

"We have re-roofed the chapel and the Coach House.

"Grant applications have also been a focus to get the next phase of work sorted.

"We are in a stable situation," he added.

Rhyl Journal:

A reminder of what the formal gardens looked like five years ago in 2014. Picture: Gwrych Castle/Facebook

"We have been able to create new jobs for local people. We have a new visitors centre supervisor and have appointed two deputy estate managers.

"The plan is to have architects and a project coordinator."

Dr Baker said it is an "amazing feeling" to see change happen.

"There was a time when we would look on from the sidelines and there was vandalism and attacks.

"I am very much involved. It has been a passion of mine since I was a child.

"The next step will be working on the masterplan [10 year plan to restore the castle], focus on conservation work and a Big Lottery Fund application.

"We have volunteers but we can always do with more volunteers.

"We will always welcome anyone."


[All photographs courtesy of Facebook/Gwyrch Castle]