New lease of life for north Northumberland castle

THE new year sees a new lease of life for Ford Castle as it was revealed that it is to reopen as a residential outdoor education centre.

Respected school trip provider Chateau Beaumont has announced plans to join forces with Northumberland County Council to reopen the centre in April under a new joint venture as Ford Castle Adventure Limited.

Based at Stanhope in County Durham, Chateau Beaumont has a strong track record in educational school trips and through this new venture wants to establish a new service providing a broad range of learning opportunities.

Since its decision to close operations at Ford last August, due to the need for budget savings, the council has been working to secure a positive future for the castle. By creating this joint venture the council aims to secure Ford Castle as an outdoor centre for at least the next 20 years.

Coun Tom Brechany, executive member responsible for asset management and regeneration at the council, said: “This is great news both for schools looking for inspiring educational trips and for the local community at Ford, which will see business returning to the castle.

“Our commercial and property services team has worked hard to get this agreement set up, and the council is looking forward to working as part of Ford Castle Adventure Limited to bring outdoor education back to the area.”

Peter Smith, managing director of Chateau-Beaumont, said: “This outstanding residential outdoor education centre provided excellent educational opportunities for local schools as far back as the 1950s.

“It is a wonderful, medieval setting, which inspires its visitors and brings history to life. It fires the imagination of young people and we aim to provide varied learning opportunities which will help them to discover their hidden talents.”

For more on the future of Ford Castle see next Thursday’s Gazette.