A Short History of the National Trust for Scotland


Locations of National Trust Sites in Ayrshire:

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A brief history of the National Trust for Scotland


A list of properties acquired by the Trust between 1931 and 2000


A list of important and historic dates from 1927 to 1935


The following is a very brief summary/extract from the superb book ' For the Benefit of the Nation - the National Trust for Scotland: the first 70 years' by Douglas Bremner. (ISBN 0-901625-69-8)

In 1930, Sir John Stirling Maxwell, the owner of the Pollock estate in Glasgow, was the leader of a small group of farsighted Scots who believed that their country merited its own National trust for Scotland with objects similar to those in England. On 10th November 1930 and eminent group of people met and constituted themselves as the first provisional council of the trust with the 8th Duke of Atholl acting as chairman. The National trust for Scotland was registered as the company limited under guarantee and was incorporated on 1st May 1931. The trustees of public reservations in Massachusetts in the United States, which was formed in 1891 ' for the purposes of acquiring, holding, arranging, maintaining and opening to the public under suitable regulations beautiful and historic places and tracts of lands', had provided the basis for the constitution of the National Trust in 1895.

The National Trust of Scotland was established at a seemingly unpropitious time in history. Of all the countries on the winning side following the First World War, Scotland was the slowest to show signs of recovery. Between a sixth and a fifth of May in who had joined up had been killed. The average age of the population rose as a result of the emigration of younger age groups to countries such as India, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Canada and America. The was a movement of people within Scotland from the country to the towns and cities which were ill-equipped to receive such an influx. The war had cost Scotland a vast sum of money and the cost of living had risen dramatically. Living conditions were appalling, with more than a third of houses without a bath and a majority of people living in single rooms. The engineering industry, which had served the country superbly well both before and during the war, was now in severe decline. On the Clyde, ship-breaking rather than shipbuilding became the order of the day. And national recession was also responsible for disastrous unemployment in Scotland, which is much worse than in the comparable areas in England.

By the end of the 1920s into the early 1930s, however, the Scots were beginning to regain their confidence. They had recovered to a large extent from the ravages and deprivations of war and were looking ahead once more. Both nationism - and the Nationalism - were on the increase and a pride in all things Scots was growing. The Scottish nation needed symbolic gestures of remembrance, renewal and faith in the future. Although much talent had been lost to Scotland in the first world war, and other as had been lost to the country through emigration, nevertheless there are were talented people left who made it very significant contributions in science and the arts. In drama, the Scottish National Players were founded in 1921 and many theatres were constructed in the post-war period. James Barrie (1860 - 1937) established himself in the fields of playwriting and stagecraft. Barrie's birthplace in Kirriemuir was also destined for a trust ownership. The times were favourable to the ethos of the trust and to the passionate and imaginative men and women who were inspired to lead and support it.

When Sir John Stirling Maxwell handed over Crookston Castle, in Glasgow, to the trust in 1931 as its first property, he made sure that what had been ruined the structure was already repaired and made safe. Over the next eight years, many sites came under the control of the National Trust for Scotland, including:

bullet Ardmeanach peninsula on the west coast of Mull, known as Burg, bequeathed by Mr A. Campbell-Blair of Dolgellau, North Wales. This site is a sanctuary for animal and plant life and is valued for its dramatic coastal geological features and the unusual remains of the fossil tree.
bullet The field of Bannockburn, site of the battle in which Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II's forces in 1314.
bullet Bruce's stone in Galloway which marks the site of Robert the Bruce's successful encounter with the English forces.
bullet The Palace and other 17th century buildings in the Royal Borough of Culross, in the Kingdom of Fife.
bullet Souter Johnnie's Cottage in Kirkoswald, Ayrshire, where one of the heroes of Robert Burn's 'Tam O'Shanter' lived. John Davidson, the shoemaker (souter), lived in this cottage and one of his neighbours Douglas Graham, formed the character, Tam.
bullet The Bachelors' Club in Tarbolton, Ayrshire, where Robert Burns attended Freemason meetings, took dancing lessons and set up the debating society called the Bachelors' Club with his mates.
bullet Glencoe, with its towering mountains sweeping down on both sides, it is at once spectacularly beautiful and yet strangely forbidding.
bullet Culloden, scene of the last major battle fought on mainland Britain, is one of the most iconic and emotive sites in Scotland.
bullet Hugh Miller's Cottage, a handsome Georgian villa built by Millerís sea-captain father, is the home of a superb new museum presenting Hugh Millerís many talents Ė including stonemason, geologist, writer, editor and church reformer.
bullet Rockcliffe, one of Scotlandís prettiest stretches of coastline.

The war years of 1939-1945 might be expected to have been characterised by a lack of activity, but this did not prove to be the case. During the war there were undoubtedly steps either forced upon or voluntarily taken by the trust to reduce expenditure, and the annual reports were thin compared with previous years. Despite such cutbacks, eight new properties were added to the trust's portfolio during 1944-45. In just 14 years since his modest beginnings in 1931, the trust firmly established itself in Scotland as the country's leading conservation charity. It acquired over 40 properties and was supported by 197 life and 1295 ordinary members, and was integral in saving some of the finest Scottish landscape and buildings. An inspired and devoted voluntary leadership, ably supported by the permanent staff, was in a strong position to take up new challenges and responsibilities.

After the war the trust continued its fine work and continued extending its portfolio including of course the acquisition of Culzean Castle and Country Park in 1945. If ever there was a case of ' challenge yet achievement', Culzean is the prime example, for it almost sank the trust's ship for good. Fortunately, as we know, the trust was able to ride the storm and emerge stronger and more successful than ever. Culzean, whilst being one of the trust's finest assets, still provides a heavy financial drain on funds and requires our support as much now as it ever did.





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The Bachelors' Club is in Tarbolton Village Souter Johnny's Cottage is situated in KirkOswald Village on the A77 south of Maybole Culzean Castle is on the coast a short distance north of Maidens Village Brodick Castle is just north of Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Catch the ferry from Ardrossan.