National Trust for Scotland Founded

(National Trust for Scotland)

The National Trust for Scotland was established on 1st May 1931 as a conservation charity to protect Scotland's natural and cultural heritage. Sir John Stirling Maxwell (1866 - 1956) had convened an inaugural meeting at Pollok House the previous year and a provisional council was formed under the Chairmanship of John Stewart-Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl (1871 - 1942). Stirling Maxwell also presented the Trust with its first property, Crookston Castle. Today it has more than 300,000 members and owns many architectural, historical and scenic treasures, including more than 130 buildings and 76,000 ha (188,000 acres) of land.

From 1949, the Trust had its headquarters at No. 5 Charlotte Square in Edinburgh's New Town, a property given to them by John Crichton-Stuart, the 4th Marquess of Bute (1881 - 1947). However, they were able to consolidate their offices into Nos. 26-31, a terrace of properties on the south side of the Square, which had been purchased by the Trust in 1996. These were subject to an award-winning refurbishment, which linked the buildings one to another. The resulting headquarters was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 and named Wemyss House in honour of David Charteris, the Earl of Wemyss and March (1912 - 2008), who led and inspired the Trust from 1946 to 1991. It included public space, comprising a bistro and gallery, which housed a fine collection of 20th-century Scottish paintings, including works by the Scottish Colourists, and an important loan collection of elegant Regency furniture and objets d'art.

Following the Trust's deep financial problems and with the considerable cost of upkeep for a prestigious headquarters, it felt it had no choice but to sell Wemyss House in 2009 and move to rented modern office accommodation at Hermiston Quay on the edge of Edinburgh. Criticised by many of its members, the move was made all the more controversial because the Trust lost £2.5 million on the sale.

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