The Ruined Loudoun Castle & its Abandoned Amusement Park

loudoun-castle-abandoned-amusement-park (Image: Nicholas Roberts)

As far as noble estates go, Loudoun Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland, has an impressive pedigree. Dating back to the 12th century, its legacy is thought to be interwoven with that of Scotland’s arguably most famous son – Sir William Wallace. According to Discover Ayrshire, the Barony was at one time in the hands of Margaret of Loudoun and Sir Reginald Crawford, who were reputed to be Wallace’s great grandparents. But today, Loudoun Castle (and the abandoned amusement park within its picturesque grounds) is a mere shell of its former grandeur.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-scotland-2 (Image: Nicholas Roberts; Loudoun Castle ruins today)

Parts of Loudoun Castle, including the tower, date back to the 12th and early 13th centuries, while the keep was a later addition built around 200 years later in the 15th century. However, much of the present look – including the library and a grand entrance hall – was created in the 1800s for the Countess of Loudoun.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-scotland (Image: via Wikipedia; Loudoun Castle around 1890)

It was known as the ‘Windsor of Scotland’ back in its elegant heyday, with 90 rooms and a 10,000 volume library. But when fire swept through the castle in 1941, Loudoun was rendered a devastated ruin. The remains of the centuries-old building and its picturesque grounds were too good to abandoned entirely, however, and in 1995 Loudoun Castle and its estate were given a new lease of life – as an amusement park.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-amusement-park-2 (Image: Nicholas Roberts; abandoned roller coaster at Loudoun Castle)

The attraction boasted three roller coasters and a variety of other rides, including the HMS Flora McDougal, an impressively-proportioned swinging ship, the Loggers Leap log flume, and the Barnstormer, a 43-metre (143-foot) tall shot-and-drop tower. Several rides can be seen in The Jolly Boys Outing episode of Only Fools and Horses and, for a time, it was a popular theme park.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-amusement-park-3 (Image: Nicholas Roberts)

In 1997, the Loudoun Castle attraction welcomed around a quarter of a million visitors through its gates, but attendance gradually slowed to the point where it was no longer economically viable – even though its owners continued to pour millions into the park to keep it up and running. It closed in 2010, adding its name to a growing number of abandoned amusement parks around the world.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-amusement-park-4 (Image: Gary McNair; the abandoned amusement park)

The ruined castle and its derelict amusement park may have fallen into abandonment and decay, but there is hope on the horizon. Since its closure a number of rides have been relocated to other attractions, paving the way for a new opportunity.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-amusement-park-5 (Image: Gary McNair)

A consortium known as the Loudoun Castle Project is planning to transform the grounds into a luxury, all-weather resort that will include 450 lodges, indoor sports facilities, and even a sub-tropical water park. Planning has been submitted to the East Ayrshire Council, and would also see the ruined castle stabilised and assessed for possible future use.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-amusement-park-6 (Image: Nicholas Roberts)

If the plans go ahead it’ll be the second time in recent history that abandoned Loudoun Castle estate has seen reuse.  A previous proposal, which didn’t come to fruition, called for the estate to be turned into a five-star hotel, golf course and whisky distillery. Should this new plan go ahead, it could create thousands of new jobs in the area. The Scotsman reported last November that the currently-abandoned Loudoun Castle estate could reopen by 2018.

loudoun-castle-abandoned-amusement-park-7 (Image: Nicholas Roberts)

Meanwhile, another intriguing tale concerns a secret underground passage that once led from Loudoun to Cessnock Castle, more than a mile away. Subterranean tunnels have long been part of popular culture, in many cases whispered of but never discovered, enshrining them more in urban legend than reality. But with suggestions that a mythical Nazi gold train may be real, who knows how rumoured tunnels could really exist?

Related – 10 Amazing Lost Treasures that have Never been Found


About the author: Debra Kelly




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