Remembering Loudoun Castle, the theme park where Glasgow families flocked every year

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Located in the ruins of Loudoun Castle, just half an hour’s drive from the town center, was a theme park that has proclaimed itself ‘Scotland’s best family theme park’.

The park had 25 rides and its closure in 2010 resulted in the loss of more than 100 seasonal jobs after one of the park’s workers, Mark Blackwood, fell from a roller coaster.

If you were a kid in the Glasgow area in the early 90s and 2000s you will have fond memories of a day trip to Loudoun Castle above the Irvine Valley.

Opened in 1995, on the grounds was a 19th century country house known as the Windsor of Scotland due to the expense, size and grandeur of the building.



Loudoun Castle was one of Scotland’s largest theme parks (Image: Youtube – Abandoned Scotland)

In 1941, just before the castle became a military headquarters, a massive fire ravaged the historic site and left the building beyond repair.

Loudoun Castle was left derelict for over 50 years, until a London-based company acquired land for a theme park and began to attract around 170,000 visitors in its early days. years.

Financial problems quickly crept in, with the estate being transferred in 1998 to the Codona family, who had been in the fairground business for generations.

Loudoun Castle was sold in 2002, at a price of 1.25 million pounds, to Henk Bembom who invested more than five million in new rides and attractions.



Loudoun Castle was destroyed by fire in 1941, just before it became a military headquarters (Image: Wikimedia Commons - Tom Morrison)
Loudoun Castle was destroyed by fire in 1941, just before it became a military headquarters (Image: Wikimedia Commons – Tom Morrison)

The array of attractions included the Barnstormer, a 140-foot-high drop tower, and a Twist n ‘Shout, a looping roller coaster that turns visitors upside down.

Elsewhere in the park was the Plow, which at the time was the tallest Chair-O-Plane tower in the world; spin the thrill seekers in their seats around a giant sphere that looked like the moon and still stands today.

In a Youtube video uploaded by Abandoned Scotland in 2011, parts of the park can be seen that have remained in place, although the area has changed dramatically over the next 10 years.

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In 2007, disaster struck when an 18-year-old amusement ride operator Mark Blackwood fell from a ride known as The Rat and died the next day at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock.



Height doesn't matter that much anymore, as no one has entered the park for over 10 years (Image: Flickr Creative Commons - Gary McNair)
Height doesn’t matter that much anymore, as no one has entered the park for over 10 years (Image: Flickr Creative Commons – Gary McNair)

It was the beginning of the end for the park which was closed in 2010, with the owners declaring that Loudoun Castle was no longer financially viable, claiming that the economic crisis of 2008 resulted in a decrease in attendance at the park.

Loudoun Castle Theme Park was cleaned up of health and safety concerns at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court in October 2009.

After a two-week trial, the jury found the Parkware Ltd fleet operators not guilty of failing to provide sufficient training and supervision.

The jury heard that the teenager, who suffered from mild cerebral palsy, was riding the ride for the first time after just 20 minutes of training, and witnesses described him as appearing anxious.

During the trial, the court heard about the ride operator pushing a roller coaster car that stopped moving and then clung to it as the car moved along the tracks.



The Twist-N-Shout was one of the most intense rides in the park, taking thrill seekers all around and upside down (Image: Wikimedia Commons - Loudoun Castle Vaults)
The Twist-N-Shout was one of the most intense rides in the park, taking thrill seekers all around and upside down (Image: Wikimedia Commons – Loudoun Castle Vaults)

While the evidence proved that staff were instructed to never enter an amusement ride area and to call maintenance personnel in the event of a breakdown, it was also understood that the amusement ride operators often gave a helping hand. to the car to restart them.

In its current state, the castle of Loudoun remains a classified building of category A, which limits the possibilities of development of the park.

In 2014, plans were submitted for an ambitious regeneration of Loudoun Castle Park, including new homes, indoor sports facilities, a tropical water park and a distillery.

These plans also included the restoration of the castle, which the developers hoped to become a five-star hotel.



The fairgrounds had something for everyone, with 25 rides around the park (Image: Flickr Creative Commons - Gary McNair)
The fairgrounds had something for everyone, with 25 rides around the park (Image: Flickr Creative Commons – Gary McNair)

The project was rejected by the local council, fearing it would damage the historic site and inadequate housing proposals.

East Ayrshire Council has said they want a leisure development that could save the castle, while also breathing new life into the area.

The grounds are currently privately owned which the owners have said should not be entered, due to the dilapidated state of the rides, although many of the rides can be seen from afar.

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