Ford Castle suffers major blow as activities operator withdraws from site due to impact of Covid-19
The future of adventure activities at Ford Castle has been placed in doubt.
Ford Castle Adventure Ltd, which has operated a residential adventure and activity centre in Ford Castle since 2012, has taken the decision to withdraw from the site and to concentrate on its longer-standing activities in France.
The castle has welcomed many thousands of young people from Northumberland and further afield, to enjoy a residential opportunity since the 1950s.
Peter Smith, director of Ford Castle Adventure, said: “The world pandemic of Covid-19 has brought unforeseen consequences to a business like ours.
"We were looking forward to having full occupation of the castle once the crucial building restoration works were completed last year.
"Although we have explored every possible way to keep an activity centre of this type open for groups of young children and their teachers, and to uphold the requirements of distance, hygiene and protection, the issues have proved insurmountable.”
Lord Joicey, director of Ford & Etal Estates where the castle lies, added: “To say we are sorry that Ford Castle Adventure is withdrawing is a massive understatement.
"Peter and his team have committed so much to providing activities for school groups and young people.
"Young people and school leaders who have enjoyed being here in recent years will know what Ford Castle offers, but the outbreak of Covid-19 means that no-one can say how, or indeed whether, it can operate in the future. It is upsetting for everyone, particularly the locally-employed staff.”
Dating from the 14th Century, Ford Castle has a long history that reflects the Border skirmishes. King James IV of Scotland spent his last days here before his death at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.
Children staying in the castle were able to see the dungeons and to experience aspects of life through the centuries, even sleeping in the same room as King James IV himself.
In the 19th Century the castle passed to the Waterford family and was subsequently bought by the 1st Lord Joicey in 1907. It is still owned by the Joicey family.
Significant repairs carried out between 2015 and 2018 have resulted in it being removed from the Buildings At Risk register.