Scotland’s Heritage Starts the Year With A Boost
Two stories reported in The Scotsman this week should gladden hearts in their tourism industry. Firstly they have received grants from the EU which will be used to build a new visitor centre at the Orkney chambered tomb, Maeshowe and the redevelopment of the Highlanders Museum outside Inverness. Secondly, a rather reclusive American millionaire who had already given $4 million to the National Trust for Scotland has left a legacy in his will which might match the sum.
At Maeshowe, the visitor centre has been in need of improvement for some time and it isn’t helped by making visitors cross a busy road. This grant of about £1.14 million will resolve the problem and provide much better facilities to view what is a major Orkney tourist attraction. The Highlanders Museum has the largest collection of items relating to the British Army outside London. They launched a campaign fronted by the actor Hugh Grant last year to raise £3 million to redevelop it. This grant of £924,000 plus the money already raised will make a big inroad into the target.
Last November a Las Vegas resident committed suicide. Having already donated money to the National Trust before as well as the Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire and Glasgow University, it appears he has left most of his fortune to the Trust. His sole link to Scotland appear to be his name. He doesn’t appear to have visited Scotland or to have any links with the university in Glasgow. Indeed the newspaper quotes a US source as saying that his view of Scotland was the romantic sort gained from watching things like the musical Brigadoon and maybe, more appropriately, the old film, The Ghost Goes West about a hard-up Scots castle owner who sells it to an American millionaire who ships it back to the US brick by brick in order to preserve it.
Whatever the eventual sum turns out to be it will be welcome to the coffers of The National Trust after the nightmare run they have had over the last couple of years. A member’s revolt has lead to changes in the way the Trust has been rung and some are still unhappy about the way money is managed and disbursed through the properties. This will help to fill some holes and maybe cause them to rethink about some of the staff and opening time cutbacks that they had previously announced. Just as long as it isn’t used to paper over the changes that the Trust must undertake to rid itself of its previous way of running things.