This letter will serve to bring members of the MBSI up-to-date with developments surrounding one of the subjects I included in my workshop at the 2019 convention in Rockville? Those who were present may remember my talking about the precarious future of a rare Imhof & Mukle orchestrion which had been installed under the stairs in Kinloch Castle, an Edwardian-era hunting lodge on the Scottish Island of Rum. Not only was the orchestrion (often referred to, albeit erroneously, as ‘Queen Victoria’s Orchestrion’) deteriorating, but the entire castle, which had been left to the state by its last private owner, was in danger of falling into ruin. A charitable organization, the Friends of Kinloch Castle Association, was hoping to raise enough funds to rescue both the castle and its contents.
Following the impact of Covid on tourism, and the restrictions on movement generally, it has been decided by the owner (Scottish Nature – the equivalent of the English National Trust) to put it up for sale. This has been reported widely in the British press, although reports vary as to whether the asking price is a nominal £1 (GBP) or a modest £70K.
This is an opportunity for someone to own a piece of Scottish heritage – as well as a fine mechanical musical instrument – although any would-be purchaser is advised that the orchestrion requires repairs last estimated at £50,000, and the ‘castle’ requires several million spent to restore it.
Hopefully this link will still work, although no doubt it will be possible anyway to learn more by searching ‘Kinloch Castle’ on the internet:
One hopes a benefactor will come forward so the orchestrion, if not the castle, may be saved.
Alison Biden, Musical Box Society of Great Britain, Vice-President