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21 Mar 2017

Trust plans on track

A gilded statue of a hawk sticks out from a stone wall of a tall building. It holds a rat between its talons.
Gladstone’s Land
Chief Executive Simon Skinner confirms that the charity’s journey of change is on track.

The impact of a £2.5 million investment at Culzean Castle and Country Park is already visible to visitors to the site, as the entrance off the A719 has been improved and landscaped to make the site more open and welcoming to visitors. Work on new all-ability trails is also underway, and parking facilities have been upgraded and re-organised. A whole new adventure play experience aimed at older children adds to the excitement provided by the very popular Adventure Cove, which opened in 2015.

“It is really exciting to be able to show visitors and communities that changes are underway at some of our most popular Trust treasures, changes which are intended to make their trips their even more memorable.”
Simon Skinner
CEO of the National Trust for Scotland

We’ve pledged to invest £17 million at properties over the next few years, with work getting underway to create a magical new garden experience at Brodie Castle later this year. A brilliant new adventure playground, plus new trails and installations in the landscape are in progress at Brodick Castle and Country Park. At Newhailes in Musselburgh, the historic landscape is the focus, along with new family-friendly visitor facilities, including an adventure playground.

Mr Skinner has also hinted at the next tranche of properties to follow, including the Hill House in Helensburgh which is set to benefit from a major investment. Also in the line for investment from 2018 onwards are Glencoe, Glenfinnan and Inverewe Garden.

He also explained that the charity is making good on its pledge to explore alternative management methods for some properties, drawing from existing precedents. The Trust is in negotiations with a commercial tenant for Gladstone’s Land in Edinburgh, a 16th-century townhouse, which was saved from demolition by the Trust in 1934. Under the plans, part of the building would be used for a commercial operation and Trust member and visitor access would be maintained through pre-booked guided tours.

Mr Skinner continued:

‘We are taking a creative approach to conservation at Gladstone’s Land, one which will ensure this building is restored to its original use as a thriving business, serving the people and visitors of Edinburgh. Working with a commercial partner means that the Trust can focus its expertise on conserving the important remaining historical features of the building and sharing these with the public, in new ways that engage new generations.

‘We are actually returning the property to the way it was originally managed by the Trust. For example, in 1938, one of the rooms with a painted ceiling was leased to a pharmacist and even at that time we had contractual obligations and a monitoring regime in place to ensure the wellbeing of this historic feature.’

The organisation’s restructure is also progressing with key new recruits now in post.

Amongst the recent appointments are Stuart Brooks, formerly the Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust, who takes up the role of Head of Natural Heritage Conservation (Policy). Six General Managers are also in post now, and are setting up the new regional offices, making key conservation and business expertise easier to access for the Trust’s heritage properties and their staff.

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