Annual Reports

Please click on the links below to see our previous annual reports:

Annual report - 2010

Past Events

Please click on the links below to see reports of our previous events:

Annual Conference 2014 Tim Pomeroy NeilSutherland Alastair McIntosh


You can view the reports of our previous excursions here.


SCOTTISH CIVIC TRUST - Annual Conference - Oct 29th 2014

“FEELING GOOD, Wellbeing and the Built Environment”


The conference was held in Maryhill Burgh Hall, a recent winner of the “My Place” award, a fine Victorian building with a completely redesigned interior to cater for various community activities. As the title leads you to expect the content of the conference was totally urban. The contributions were from architects, town planners, health workers and a spokesman for sustainable transport.

The most entertaining speaker David Spaven showed a selection of photos taken recently round Edinburgh demonstrating the most crass, dangerous, idiotic and thoughtless obstacles to safe and enjoyable walking in the city. These were so extreme that they raised a laugh from the audience. He followed with some good examples showing sense and awareness, noticeably fewer in number than the former. The Glasgow city planner, Etive Currie itemised good intentions with plenty of technical phraseology but not many concrete examples while the speaker from GEHL architects, Riccardo Marini, took us on a photographic world tour of good and bad urban design always stressing the need for the architecture to take account of its surroundings and contribute to encouraging people to be out on foot meeting each other. He produced a phrase new to me “birdshit architecture” eg when a building is dropped into its setting without taking its surrounds into account which is the case with most new buildings. One of his photos was of a young mother pushing a pram in Brasilia in what was a vast, desolate empty space between two buildings. Discussion groups later did point out that designing a whole area involves overcoming the difficulty of multiple owners, often of small plots of land. This produced a variety of suggestions.

Sir Harry Burns spoke movingly of the depressed condition of what we sometimes refer to as the “underclass”, stressing that health begins with the environment and not the health service including the statement that the greatest damage to health was not alchohol or tobacco but lack of exercise. He produced a chart that showed a preponderance of “yes” votes in depressed areas which he felt demonstrated a desire for change. Anne Lumb of Scottish Natural Heritage, in charge of the Green Space Project for NHS estates and hospitals showed examples of how NHS land, often around hospitals, could be made attractive, inviting and contribute to a sense of patient wellbeing.

A doctor, Peter Gordon who is also a qualified landscape architect made an appeal on behalf of Mavisbank House in Penicuik, designed by William Adam (also Hamilton old Parish church and Chatelherault). A beautiful house in a terrible state. At lunch time five people, including myself, gave a 5 minute summary of their organisation’s purpose and activity. A couple of delegates later asked about our interior project.

J Inglis


March 29th 2012 - Tim Pomeroy

On the evening of March 29th, Arran Civic Trust hosted an illustrated talk in the Ormidale Pavilion by Arran’s distinguished sculptor, Tim Pomeroy. All present were both entertained and richly informed by what he had to say. After recounting the slow process by which his artistic career took shape over some eight years - from Latin scholar at Hamilton Academy, via varied stints teaching and lecturing, to his emergence as a full-time freelance painter and sculptor - Tim went on to describe the various projects and commissions in which he has been involved.

As he talked, those present gained fascinating and valuable insights into the creative process, Tim’s sources of inspiration in, for example, nature, geology and archaeology (but also such everyday objects as string), and the technicalities and difficulties of working with materials such as granite and bronze. His talk was tellingly illustrated throughout with photographs. It would take too long here to cite all the examples of Tim’s work that were covered, but the audience will certainly have taken special note of local examples, such as the fascinating sculptures in Merkland Wood, and some major off-island works, particularly the font he made for St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, with its wonderful frieze of figures waiting to be baptised in the Jordan. This alone involved some five hundred hours work. There was also a spellbinding account of the technical feat involved in drilling a pathway for the continuous flow of water.

It was interesting to learn that the commissioning of this font was suggested to the Archbishop by an earlier one that Tim had created for Provand’s Lordship. With other commissions for such patrons as the Duke of Devonshire, Carnoustie Golf Club and Cawdor Castle (a four-and-a-half metre Tree of Life in bronze), as well as exhibitions in leading London galleries, Tim Pomeroy’s reputation has spread well beyond Arran, and the island is fortunate to be his base. It would be difficult to sum up his versatile talent in a nutshell, but perhaps one key to his wide appeal is the observation that he uses traditional materials, but in a modern idiom.

⇒ To view this report in PDF format please click here. ⇐


September 19th 2011 - Neil Sutherland

Arran Civic Trust ‘ACT’ Talk “Rural House Design, Affordability and Sustainability”

On Monday Sept 19 Neil Sutherland, an award winning architect from Inverness gave an informative and inspiring talk on rural house design, the speciality of his company. In his presentation he showed several examples of houses he had designed and built mainly of wood, a material, abundant in rural Scotland, in the use of which Neil is expert.

Of particular interest was the speaker’s philosophy of house building, that houses should be a pleasure to live in, capable of adaption and extension, be constructed of locally sourced materials, be frugal in the consumption of power and appropriately sited within their surroundings. He stressed the life-enhancing effect of good quality materials and their ultimate economy. He saw volume builders as disregarding these while they enjoy ready planning approval for the mundane and mediocre in contrast to the difficulties faced by innovative and principled designs. The speaker cited Scotland as having the lowest percentage of self-build in Europe as a result of planning rules not designed to facilitate this, the high cost of land and the pernicious practice of land-banking.

In helping the audience to come to terms with the “shock of the new” in house design he pointed out that the style commonly described as the vernacular is inherited from enlightenment new towns initiated by aristocratic estate owners in the eighteenth century. The implication was that they need not represent an inviolable standard by which new designs should be judged.

The presentation was followed by questions and expressions of approval and thanks for what had been fascinating and educative talk.


⇒ To view this report in PDF format please click here. ⇐


7th April 2011 - Alistair McIntosh

!This was a talk that truly involved the audience as Alastair initially asked everyone present what questions and areas of discussion were in their mind to have tackled during the evening. From these flowed ideas, strategies covering a variety of topics:

Alastair was born in Doncaster and raised on the Isle of Lewis. His father’s roots were there and he returned with the family and practised as a GP. Throughout the talk and questions from the audience Alastair interwove his own experiences, especially as a child and young person, as illustrative about the interdependence of community and the development of the young to be resilient and take managed risks: he told the great story of heading off to fish by himself, in worsening weather determined to make it, knowing various binoculars were trained on him- so learning resilience and yet knowing there is an almost invisible hand of care in the community too; all leading to self respect and respect for the “elders” or those with knowledge learned through life’s experience. He sees resilience as an export when young people leave the island community, and this is important to remember when islands are told they are “subsidised” by the mainland. The island gives a great deal to our area, to careers and other communities off the island.

The community is about creating synergies out of the diverse skills of islanders, whether their families have been here for 100 years or one. Tapping into different skills and experiences and welcoming them, will build a more resilient community able to face change. No one has a monopoly of knowledge or skills. We learn from each other. Listening and sharing are vital ingredients to a community. He spoke about our cycle of belonging in communities. The learning to share feelings both in joy and suffering; the capacity to respond to others. Whilst at times we may feel people know too much about us individually, when the really difficult times arise the community supports and cares for us. Community cohesion and regeneration go together.

Alastair also talked of the G-spot- whether you call it God, spirituality, understanding self, the ability to reflect, go inwards to develop the god in ourselves, to find the richness of self development, to let go of some of the ego. This will contribute to our understanding of us in a place. Belonging to a place; a sense of place contributes to a real sense of our own identity where local initiatives are important bedrock. The farmers markets, ARCAS, local societies all contribute to the sense of “our Place”. This sense of identity embodies relationships and includes our values. Knowing ourselves is an important development. In this cycle these values give rise to our sense of responsibility to each other and our community. He described the sharing of resources and energy in the crofting community when there was a national seaman’s strike. Community regeneration comes from reinforcing these four areas:

Alastair works with the GalGael Trust in Govan. At present he lives in Drumoyne and experiences every day in working with young people that they have little resilience- and seek to prop themselves up with alcohol and drugs. The loss of manly roles, apprenticeships, and role models has been devastating in Govan. There is estrangement which leads to despair and defiance in young people. The changes in the last 30 years have meant a loss of resilience and the learning “how to be a man”. Govan has X5 rate of hospital admission due to drugs and x7 the rate of hospital admissions due to alcohol abuse compared to the rest of Scotland. The GalGael Trust works with young people, helping them to relate through their five outer senses through woodworking as well as learning about themselves. He contrasted these experiences with his own growing up on Lewis and going out with a much older man in the community to learn to fish and handle a boat.

It was clear that as Alastair talked so those in the audience were reflecting on Arran, our place; those community activities each of us is involved with and which give Arran a sense of identity along with its history and ever present environment around us of the land, mountains, sea and sky; the values of this island community and the responsibility we each take to ensure the needs of islanders and visitors are met. He is also a great believer in the “complaints committee”. If Arran feels misunderstood by the Council or others, we need to be sure we do not just complain on the island to ourselves, but that our needs are heard off the island, and those off the island understand the contribution the island and islanders make to the welfare and wellbeing of the whole of society. He said that he noticed on the ferry on his way over that people started to relax, there was a change in mood. The sea, the ferry and making the journey helped people to unwind. What a contribution therefore Arran makes to society even before the ferry ties up in Brodick.

Arran Civic Trust hopes to invite Alastair back to Arran for a day of shared discussion in 2012.

See: Alastair McIntosh (2008) “Rekindling Community” Connecting People, Environment and Spirituality. Schumacher Briefings 15: Green Books

⇒ To view this report in PDF format please click here. ⇐


Summary of our Work in 2010 - 2011

Last year was a successful one for ACT. Key points were:

Sadly, our vice-chair Dr David Irwin died during the year. His contribution to our work is greatly missed.

We are always looking for new members to share the work of the committee and were delighted to welcome Caroline Fleming to the committee this year. If you are interested in joining us please do contact me or any other committee member.

Thank you also to those of you who have paid your subscription to ACT for 2011-2 (either by cheque or standing order) and to remind those of you who have not, that subscriptions are now due. The rate has been held at the same level as last year - £10 single and £15 for a couple. They should be sent to our treasurer David Scott, Tighenemnach, Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran KA27 8EX.

The Arran Civic Trust is a registered Scottish charity, number 023504 and is affiliated to The Scottish Civic Trust