Portencross Castle News
The Castle will open on Tuesday 4th April 2017. Our contractors will be finishing off on the first few days. We apologise in advance for any minor inconvenience this may cause. Please do enjoy your visit.
A visitor to Portencross discovered an interesting artefact at the harbour beside the Castle.
If anyone can identify what this artefact might be, please get in touch with us. The artefact is around 150mm long. FOPC members are continuing to research the 'find', including working with archeologists. We will keep you updated if anything of interest comes to light.
2017 Opening Times
Opening times are 11.00am – 4.00pm with last entry at 3.45pm. Admission is free but donations and fund raising help considerably in keeping the castle open, so all donations by visitors are gratefully accepted!
The castle will open every day from Saturday 1st April until and including Monday 17th April. After this date, it will open on weekends and holiday Mondays (1st and 29th May) until Sunday 25th June.
From Saturday 1st July, the castle will be open daily until and including 3rd September. For the rest of September, the castle will open at weekends and on Monday 18th September. The last public opening day will be Sunday 24th September.
The castle will then close for the winter except for venue hires and pre-arranged group tours.
Occasionally during the summer season, the castle is closed for a private function. Any such events will be posted in advance on this website under News and Events to allow you to check in advance.
A fund-rasing coffee morning will be held from 10.30am-1.00pm on 18th March at Southbanks House, Portencross. A modest entry fee covers the price of tea/coffee and home-made goodies. A raffle will be held with lovely prizes and Portencross Castle mementos will be on sale. All welcome.
Opening for the 2017 season
A lot goes into opening up the castle after the winter. Apart from the usual dust and sand, some small pieces of debris seem to accumulate throughout the castle, including all the way up the spiral stairway. Gaps in the protective glass, which are covered up for the winter, are opened up again and the sealing material stored until next winter. Leaflets, booklets and other materials are unlocked from sealed containers and got ready for display. The television and video 'kiosk' are unearthed from their dry winter storage and restored to working order. Display panels are refreshed with a good dusting down. The flag and flagpole are checked to be in good condition. Professional electrical safety tests take place. And a good look around the castle fabric is undertaken. This year also involves a five-yearly inspection to make sure everything is safe and in order.
A training session is held for volunteers and stewards to refresh memories and add new insights. Training this year will have an additional focus on the Portencross Cannon which has been moved back to it's old resting place just outside the castle. Our thanks go to the FOPC Board members, volunteers and stewards who come together get the castle ready for the 2017 season. Let's hope it is a record-breaker.
Christmas 2016 Cards now available
Our Castle Christmas cards for 2016 are now available for purchase.
They will go on sale at the Combined Charities Christmas Sale in West Kilbride Village Hall on Saturday 29th October, 10am - 12.30pm. The cards are priced at 60p each or £5 for pack of 10.
After the Charities Sale, you can buy the cards in West Kilbride Library, or simply by phoning Ann on 01294 823799 or emailing her at email@example.com.
Portencross Castle is free to visit and is sustained through the generosity of charitable contributions. The sale of our Christmas cards are part of our fund-raising activities to maintain and develop the Castle as a local historical attraction and visitors' centre.
Our chairperson has retired!
FOPC General Meeting and Farewell to Alastair Glen
Friends of Portencross Castle held a General Meeting in the Castle on Sunday 25th September 2016. Alastair Glen gave his report as chairperson. He stressed the tremendous success of the Castle in its six seasons of opening. Alastair reminded everyone present that this success had been due to the efforts of all those who had contributed. People had given generously of their time, organised fund raising activities, contributed financial support, and provided sound advice. Recent work on the Castle has been helped greatly by funding support from the May Lockhart Trust, the W M Mann Foundation, the Bottomly Family Trust and Historic Environment Scotland.
Pauline Buckley gave her report as FOPC's Treasurer. While FOPC's financial position continued to look strong, all agreed that an appropriate reserve should be held as a contingency given the Castle's history and the potential need for future maintenance and development.
Alastair reminded the meeting of the historical importance of the castle and the many twists and turns, threats and dangers, successes and accomplishments in its recent history. He stressed his pride and privilege in having played a part in this exciting journey. Alastair then announced his intention to retire as chairperson and outlined the process through which the FOPC Board would appoint a new Chairperson at its next meeting.
Ann McLachlan thanked Alastair for his enormous contribution to the success of the Castle project. Over a considerable period and in the face of many hurdles, Alastair had guided the FOPC Board and its supporters to successfully open the Castle as a visitors' centre and historical attraction. It was in no small part, Ann reminded the meeting, due to Alastair's enthusiasm, determination and resilience. In gratitude for his contribution, Ann presented Alastair with a personal gift donated by FOPC Board members. Alastair and his wife Lesley were then presented with a celebratory cake which took the form of a replica of Portencross Castle. The general meeting was followed by a celebratory round of drinks.
Note: At its subsequent Board meeting, Mr Sinclair Molloy was appointed as the new chairperson of the Board of Friends of Portencross Castle.
Please Note: The Castle is now closed for the winter and will be opening in Spring 2017
Summer opening 2016
The Castle was open daily, 11.00am until 4.00pm, until the end of August, then weekends only (including Monday 19th September) which was the last weekend opening of the season.
Occasionally it was closed for a private event: visitors are always asked to check the website before coming.
Visitors did not worry about the weather! They enjoyed the shelter on a wild day and looked down on the waves or basked in the sunshine on the roof on a good day and enjoyed the fantastic views.
Cannon from the Spanish Armada returns to its resting place
The Portencross Cannon was moved some years ago to a village garden. It has now been returned to its original site outside the Castle. Thanks to all who helped in moving the cannon.
The story goes that a ship from the Spanish Armada (1588) sank just off the coast at Portencross. A dive in 1740 resulted in the recovery of a number of cannon, one of which apparently was given to the village as a thank you for assisting. A Spanish crown insignia was visible at one time, but has now been lost to corrosion. The cannon is of Spanish design. In 1982 the Portencross cannon was moved to Hunterston Power station. In 1990, specialists attempted to conserve the cannon. They removed layers of tar, but their efforts failed. The power company returned the cannon to Portencross village in 2003. Some maintenance work will now be carried out to try to reduce further corrosion.
For more information, click here.
Castle Scarecrows win coveted prize
Congratulations to the scarecrows of Portencross Caste who jointly were awarded first prize in the annual Scarecrow Festival. Well done to Audrey Kolon and all who helped.
Congratulations to Ken Jarrett who won the raffle at the Art Sale. He chose the framed Pam Glennie print as you can see in the picture. No doubt the print will give Ken many years of pleasure and the usual headache of how best to place it in his home. Also wishing Pam all the best in her new home in Portencross.
2016 Art Sale
The Art Exhibition and Sale passed off successfully with 120 paintings hung and 21 sold. The weather was poor on the Sunday which was reflected in a bit of a drop in visitor numbers and sales at the tea tent. However altogether £1,639.40 was raised for the Castle fund, which is very welcome. Thanks to all who came along and to the large number of wonderful volunteer helpers. Special thanks to the artists, who make it all possible.
Winning raffle numbers, in order, 1, 57, 129, 257, 72. These were selected by a group of Castle visitors from Indonesia. The winners have been notified.
2016 Opening Times
The castle will open over the Easter weekend, 25th-28th March. It takes some time for the castle to warm up after the winter so wrap up warm!
The castle will then be open every day between 2nd - 17th April. After this it will open weekends and Holiday Mondays. From 2nd July the castle will be open daily.
Opening times are 11-4 with last entry at 3.45pm. Admission is free but we are entirely dependant on donations and fund raising, so all donations are gratefully accepted!
Occasionally the castle is closed for a private function. Any such events will be posted on this website.
Castle closed for Winter
The castle is now closed for the winter and will re-open to visitors at the start of April 2016. We had a total of 7,613 visitors this year. This is slightly up on last year, a remarkable achievement considering the poor weather this summer! The enthusiasm of the visitors was wonderful, and we thank them for their generous donations.
Many thanks also to the staff, volunteer guides and all those who helped with other activities such as fund raising events.
This year's charity Christmas card is 'Snow at Portencross Castle', a photograph by George Crawford. It will be available at the Combined Charities Christmas card sale in West Kilbride Village Hall on the morning of Saturday 24th October, and also from West Kilbride Library, or phone Ann on 01294 823799. The cards are 60p each or 10 for £5. Many thanks to George for allowing us to use his photograph.
Many people have been asking about the beautiful boat anchored next to the castle. It is a Viking Wayfarer called Freya. Sometimes called a "Cutter". This is an open clinker boat built in 1969 as a training boat for the Moray Sea School by Duncans of Barry in Orkney. She was moved to Locheil Outward Bound centre when the Moray sea school closed.
During her time as a training vessel she was operated soley by sail and oars. On being sold to a private owner in Mull, an engine was installed. She was sold on to another islander before being bought by Andy, a resident of Portencross. He has restored her back to her current fine condition.
September opening times and recent visit
The castle is now open weekends only (plus holiday Monday 21st September) until the end of Septmeber when it closes for the winter. Opening times remain the same (11-4, last admission 3.45) apart from the afternoon of Sunday 27th Septmember when the Castle will be closed for a wedding.
Recent visitors included a group of delegates (shown right) attending the annual European Archaeologists Association conference held this year in Glasgow. The day trip was organised by Historic Scotland to visit 'interesting lowland Scottish Castles' and we were very pleased to be included in this prestigious group (the others were Bothwell, Dean and Dundonald castles).
Hopefully we will get a beautiful September but if not, come on a wet and windy day and you can really appreciate the shelter provided by the thick castle walls!
New visitor attraction at Castle
A new attraction for visitors to the castle is a short film in which Robert Boyd (son of the builder of the castle) talks about his time at the castle, helping to bring the mediaevel castle to life. This is accompanied by the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra (pictured on the right) playing 'The Flower of Portencross'.
Our thanks to all involved in this project, particularly the members of the orchestra and narrator Mark Stephen who gave their time and talent free of charge. FOPC is also grateful to Western Link Community Fund who donated £2,000 towards the costs involved.
The castle is now open daily until the end of August (11am-4pm) and then weekends only in September. Entrance is free but donations are appreciated as the castle is operated and maintained entirely by donations and fund raising.
Portencross Castle Art Sale
The weather behaved reasonably well for the annual exhibition and art sale in the castle. Altogether 114 items were displayed, 20 were sold and 352 visitors attended. The tea tent in South Banks House garden was as popular as ever and altogether, just under £2,000 was raised for Castle funds.
There was a raffle of work donated by artists Kris McKinnon, Jane Fraser, Tom Rutherford and Pam Glennie. Winning numbers were drawn by visitors to the castle and first choice went to Davina Kyle (pictured) who selected a pair of Pam Glennie framed prints.
This is a very labour intesive event and sincere thanks are due to the many helpers who made it possible. Thanks also to all the visitors and to the support of the artists, without whom it is not possible. Special thanks to Kris, Jane, Tom and Pam for the raffle prizes.
Portencross Castle now relies entirely on fund-raising events such as this, and on individual donations, to keep the Castle open and maintained. Please keep coming!
We wish to thank all who participated in making the Annual Music Evening (Ceilidh) on Saturday, 20th June 2015, a success. Over 100 supporters danced the evening away in the South Banks House garden and displayed their musicality on the specially laid dance floor to the music of the MacFadyen sisters. The music was interrupted only by the dancers pausing to replenish their stamina by partaking of the delicious buffet.
This fundraiser managed to raise a net total of £1,540.00!! Now, that money has made its way to the Portencross Castle coffers, where it will be used for maintenance and operational costs. To all of you who made this possible...a BIG THANK YOU!!!
Largs Rainbows (the group below Brownies in age) recently enjoyed an evening visit to the castle. Dads were brought along as an early Fathers Day treat.
A lovely evening was had by all, and we were delighted to receive a donation of £130 which the girls had raised by holding a sponsored scavenger hunt. A big Thank You to all the girls involved in raising the money.
May Bank Holiday openings
In addition to the current weekend openings, the castle will be open from 11am - 4pm (last admission 3.45) on both Monday 4th May and Monday 25th May.
The Board and Guardians of Portencross Castle would like to congratulate Audrey Kolon for her recent award of West Kilbride Citizen of the Year. Audrey is a hugely active fund raiser for FOPC and runs many coffee mornings and summer events. She is also secretary of the West Kilbride Civic Society and a keen environmental campaigner. Audrey will be presented with her Rotary Club of Hunterston award at a special dinner this month. The award will include a framed certificate and a cheque for £100 towards a charity of her choice.
Well done, Audrey. Justly deserved.
Castle closure for filming
Portencross Castle is embarking on an exciting project that will involve making a short film about the history and importance of the castle and surrounding area. The completed film will be the main feature on a new installation for visitors featuring an audio-visual presentation on a wide-screen monitor. Professional actors and film-makers will assist us in this new venture. We hope to have the film completed for our busy summer season.
To allow filming to take place, the Castle will be closed on the afternoons of Saturday 11th and Monday 13th April. Thank you for your understanding and we trust you will enjoy the finished product.
Stewards training for 2015
Everyone had a great training afternoon for existing and new stewards held at the Barony Centre in West Kilbride (see Craft Town Scotland on Facebook). Alan Hodgkinson gave one of his usual high quality talks on the area.
The stewards look forward to welcoming you along with our group of volunteers. They will take you round the castle and explain its history, setting and historical importance.
Have a wonderful day out at Portencross Castle!
Opening times 2015
Portencross Castle will open for visitors on Friday 3rd April 2015. It will then be open daily until Sunday 19th April 2015.
After this Easter period, the castle will open every weekend, including Monday 4th and Monday 25th May.
During the summer period, the castle will open every day from Monday 29th June until Sunday 30th August.
In September, the castle will open at weekends including on Monday 21st September.
Opening times are 11am-4pm, last entry is 3.45.
On occasion, the castle will close for private events. Details of such closures will appear in this News section of the website.
Our busy, quiet period
At this time of year, we gear up for the opening of the castle. Visitors may see the castle closed and very quiet looking, but behind the scenes, our volunteers, new and returning stewards, and the FOPC Board members are busy getting things ready for the opening. Our stewards refresh or undergo new training; our Board agrees development work for the year; and our volunteers continue to shift around leaflets, spring clean the castle, check lighting and health and safety, and generally get things shipshape for the season. All of this is to continue the high quality experience of our local and far-flung visitors and to continue to develop new experiences for everyone interested in the castle.
We hope to welcome returning and new visitors alike this year and trust you have another special day at Portencross.
Castle Steward Vacancy
NEW STEWARD REQUIRED for the 2015 season - to join our existing team of four stewards, to share paid duties of working up to two days per week in the summer months, from 11am til 4pm, and weekends from April til September.
Further details from Kay Fegan at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01294 823537
We are always looking for volunteers to help with the opening of the castle. This includes staffing the castle during opening hours and ensuring that our visitors are well informed and enjoy their visit. Anyone who has a couple of hours a week to spare and thinks they would enjoy being part of the Portencross Castle team is welcome to contact Kay on 01294 823537 or at email@example.com for further information.
The FOPC Board would like to wish all our benefactors, guardians, supporters, staff, volunteers and visitors past and future a very happy Christmas and a wonderful 2015.
Opposite is the image on the Portencross Castle Christmas cards courtesy of Peter Ribbeck.
You may think that we all go away during the closed season, but members of the Board and supporters are busy planning enhancements to the display and better facilities for staff. We also attend to any maintenance and ongoing challenges posed by the elements generally. All of this is to continue make our visitor experience as high quality as we can possibly manage.
We were delighted to receive a model of the castle made out of matchsticks. It was designed and constructed by Jim Miller of Kilwinning (pictured in the middle of the photograph).
Around 15,000 matchsticks and 300 lollipop sticks were required and Jim spent three months on the task. He has previously completed more than 90 matchstick models, mostly of churches.
The model is now on display in the Great Hall of the Castle so that all visitors will have the chance to view and admire it. Many thanks to Jim for this beautiful piece of work.
Monday 28th July
Please note, the castle will be closed to the public on the afternoon of Monday 28th July as it has been booked for a private ceremony.