Beckford victory

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The news that the National Trust for Scotland is to look seriously at subjects of colonialism and slavery in its collections is very welcome indeed.

And the fact that Arran played no small part in this should bring satisfaction to all those involved. The trust have said that as a starting point to their new Facing Our Past project will be the complete reinterpretation of the Beckford Collection at Brodick Castle.

That was far from the forefront of their thoughts when they designed and created the new Beckford Room at the castle which opened just last spring. Now they are change some of the items on display and commission additional interpretation before it reopens, when Covid-19 social distancing guidelines allow.


But they have gone further by supplying additional information on Beckford and his slavery wealth to their guides and installed temporary interpretation in the castle.

We have always been of the view that education is a better alternative to trying to rewrite history by pulling down and defacing historical statues.

The National Trust now recognise that they have been ‘less forthright’ in relating stories of slavery and colonialism and in discussing some particularly challenging – to modern eyes, even offensive – items in their collections. They say that will change.

The trust have certainly listened to the mood on Arran during the letters campaign in the Arran Banner and we are proud to have played a part in forming opinion.


But much of the credit must go to Cicely Gill who brought the Beckford Collection, of which there had long been rumblings, back into public debate.

We hope other communities in Scotland will follow our lead.