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Pirate Castle tells of battle to survive as MP Sir Keir Starmer visits

Labour leader says club on canal does 'fantastic work'

06 August, 2021 — By Tom Foot

SIR Keir Starmer gave his backing to the Pirate Castle’s fundraising appeal after a tour of the youth club on Monday.

The Labour Party leader and Holborn St Pancras MP praised the “fantastic” work done by the centre by the canal in Camden Town. He was told it had been plunged into financial “dire straits” and a battle for survival during the coronavirus crisis.

It runs kayaking courses for youngsters from all over Camden and narrowboat trips for vulnerable children. Around £60,000 was raised in an online appeal last year – but more is needed to keep the project afloat.

Castle manager Tim Mulloy said: “After the ‘rule of six’ came in everything went. We couldn’t put on any parties. All our events had to be cancelled. Without the crowdfunder, we would have been in dire, dire straits.”

After raising money to fix the roof and do up part of the main building, designed by Richard Seifert in 1977, the club is now looking to modernise its showers and changing facilities.

“We’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination,” the Castle’s Kal Webb said.

She told Mr Starmer: “The Pirate Club was set up in 1966. Originally we worked from an old barge. In 1977, in partnership with Camden, the electricity board wanted to relay cables and as part of that we got the amazing castle built.”

She added: “We are reported to be the last fortified castle built in England.

“It’s been a story of survival and revival since 1966. We’ve had some really tough times.”

On Monday, Mr Starmer was shown around the main building and met children using the kayaks on the canal. He heard about the problems facing the club including duck weed – the thick matt of green algae-style film that clogs up the canal waters in hot weather each summer.

Meanwhile, the Pirate Castle scooped a bronze medal in the London Youth Games on the weekend.

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