Last week I took the cycle path in the opposite direction from my usual route and headed 7 miles east to Dunfermline, once the ancient capital of Scotland.
Like many others I headed for one of Scotland's greatest outdoor spaces - Pittencrieff Park or as it's known to locals, "The Glen".
As a boy, Andrew Carnegie, son of a local hand-loom weaver, is reputed to have peered through the railings of what was then a private residence close to where he lived. Fortune made, one of his first acts of philanthropy was to buy the park and donate it in Trust to the people of his home town. The following is taken from the letter by Carnegie to the trustees in 1903 expressing the purpose of the trust.
Gentlemen of the Commission, The Trust Deed, of which this may be considered explanatory, transfers to you Pittencrieff Park and Glen and Two million five hundred thousand dollars in 5 per cent, bonds, giving you an annual revenue of Twenty-five thousand pounds, all to be used in attempts to bring into the monotonous lives of the toiling masses of Dunfermline more of sweetness and light; to give them – especially the young – some charm, some happiness, some elevating conditions of life which residence elsewhere would have denied; that the child of my native town, looking back in after years, however far from home it may have roamed, will feel that simply by virtue of being such, life has been made happier and better. If this be the fruit of your labours you will have succeeded, if not, you will have failed. It is more than twenty years since I provided in my will for this experiment, for experiment it is. My retirement from business enables me to act in my own lifetime, and the fortunate acquisition of Pittencrieff, with its lovely glen, furnishes the needed foundation upon which you can build, beginning your work by making it a recreation park for the people. Needed structures will have admirable sites upon its edge, in the very centre of population. I have said your work is experimental. The problem you have to solve is “What can be done in towns for the benefit of the masses by money in the hands of the most public-spirited citizens?” If you prove that good can be done you open new fields in the rich which I am certain they are to be more and more anxious to find for their surplus wealth. Remember you are pioneers and do not be afraid of making mistakes; those who never make mistakes never make anything. Try many things freely, but discard just as freely. As it is the masses you are to benefit, it follows you have to keep in touch with them and must carry them with you. Therefore do not put before their first steps that which they cannot take easily, but always that which leads upwards as their tastes improve........
Let me commend a great truth to you which has been one of my supports in life:
“The gods send thread for a web begun.” Thread will be sent for that you are about to weave.