The National Trust for Scotland is the largest membership organisation in Scotland. It is a conservation charity that is supported by more than 300,000 members and is funded largely by donations. Active in Scotland since 1931, it now protects some of Scotland’s iconic sites.
The National Trust for Scotland encourages the public to engage with what makes Scotland unique. The NTS also provides training opportunities to encourage men and women to develop their skills in many types of conservation and land management work, vital to the well being of many National Trust properties.
The Hill House, Helensburgh was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and many consider it to be his domestic masterpiece. The Hill House was commissioned by Glasgow book publisher Walter Blackie of the publishers Blackie and Son. Blackie is best known throughout Scotland as the publisher of our Maths textbooks, not everyone’s favourite lesson at school but one which we all remember and have direct experience of.
The Hill House is the collaboration of the best design talents of Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald, whose artwork and creativity are all over this magnificent building. The rooms are open to visitors with many examples of Macdonald’s artistic design, including the furniture and fittings. As with many National Trust properties, any visit gives a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Blackie family at the start of the twentieth century. The contrast with the standard of living of many working people of Glasgow at the same time is stark. For comparison, visit the Tenement House in Glasgow (also NTS).
Worthy efforts to preserve and protect our heritiage
Mackintosh was a revolutionary architect, but the materials and techniques used at the cutting edge of architecture in 1900 haven’t withstood the West of Scotland’s harsh, wet weather conditions. The exterior render of the Hill House has not proved to be watertight; the walls are now saturated and crumbling. Water now threatens the interior.
To prevent this the National Trust has encased the entire house with a protective steel frame structure covered in chainmail mesh, with walkways around and over the top of the House. There is a new visitor centre and this provides all visitors who have a good head for heights with a unique visitor experience, a chance to view the building from above the roof and walls, as well as the more traditional walk around the interiors. Knowledgeable and interesting facilitators are at hand to provide much information and answer any questions that you may have.
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