1st October 2019

An increase in visits and donations to Abbotsford in 2019 has helped the Abbotsford Trust improve its finances.

The Trust, which manages the legacy of Sir Walter Scott and his 200-year-old estate in the Borders, has this week (Tuesday Oct 1) announced a loss for 2018 of £62,566, largely due to increased maintenance costs of Abbotsford, the 19th century house and estate, situated between Melrose and Galashiels. However, a strong visitor season in 2019 and an increase in donations are expected to improve the charity’s finances this year.

Giles Ingram, Chief Executive of The Abbotsford Trust, said: “We are delighted to have welcomed 15% more visitors to Abbotsford so far this year. Many more people from across the Borders and into Edinburgh have been regular visitors, bringing friends and family, as word of our ‘Pay once visit free all year’ tickets, and of our new riverside paths has spread. We see ourselves very much as a place for our community to enjoy and share. To see people proudly introducing Walter Scott’s intriguing story to their own visitors is so rewarding.”

The extreme cold snap at the start of 2018 led to an increased spend in repairs and maintenance, with items such as burst pipes and snow plough charges adding to the usual costs of maintaining Scott’s historic home.

The Trust has two income streams, its charitable work, which covers fundraising activities and ticket sales to the house and gardens, and its trading company, which covers business activities such as the gift shop, café, self-catering accommodation, private events and weddings. In 2018 the charity received donations and grants totalling £219,773, of which the bulk went towards community and volunteering programmes, the restoration of Scott’s woodland and riverside paths, the restoration of Abbotsford’s iconic Portcullis Gate, accessibility improvements to Walled Garden paths, curatorial and archival work.

Giles explained: “It is entirely thanks to our donors that we have been able to make improvements everybody in the Borders can enjoy, and to run community programmes for people of all ages and abilities. The response we have had to our improved paths from those using wheelchairs has been especially pleasing.

“Our challenge now is to build on a successful year in 2019, to engage people with Scott’s fantastic legacy, both within the local community and further afield, especially as we look forward to celebrating his 250th anniversary in 2021.”