AN outdoor education centre in a Northumberland castle is to close at the end of the month, with no prospect of it re-opening soon.
Ford Castle, which currently serves as an outdoor education centre run by Northumberland County Council, is closing its doors on August 31. It had been running at a loss.
The lease for the castle, near Wooler, will remain with the authority beyond that date and The Journal understands the council has spoken to at least one party about taking over the site.
But nothing has at present been agreed, meaning the site stands to become disused from the end of the month.
The council will still be responsible for the maintenance of the castle, with a full repairing lease in place, having been extended in 2006 and thought to have several years to run. The authority could be faced with a hefty bill if it seeks to terminate the agreement early.
It is thought staff at the site will continue until the end of the month although it is not known what will happen to them beyond then.
A local county councillor last night said it was "disappointing" that nothing was in place for the castle after August and added he hoped something would materialise soon.
The council has been operating the castle as an outdoor residential training centre for young people for more than 50 years, having leased it from Ford and Etal Estates since 1956.
The site has also been available as a wedding or conference venue and for private hire, and has self-catered holiday accommodation.
A contingency plan was even drawn up by the county council to use the castle as an alternative headquarters to Morpeth’s County Hall in the event of a nuclear attack in the Cold War 1980s.
Council bosses revealed in February that the facility would close at the end of this month, with it having been trading at a significant loss at a time when the authority has to make around £45m of savings this financial year.