Benmore marks the return of the Golden Gates

Sir Peter Hutchison, Chairman of the Younger (Benmore) Trust was at Benmore Botanic Garden today (Friday 12 June 2015) to mark the return of the ‘Golden Gates’ – one of the most cherished landmarks within the Garden. 

In 1928, when Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh took on the estate from the Younger family, the Gates had been in place for around 50 years.  They had been commissioned from a firm in Berlin in the 1870s by James Duncan, who owned the estate from 1870 to 1889.  He then proudly exhibited his new gates at the Exposition Universelle (Paris World’s Fair) in 1878 before installing them as the main entrance to Benmore House from Glen Massan. 

In 2007, it was agreed that the gates, which are Grade-A listed, were in a poor state of repair, and that the best thing would be to remove them and protect them indoors until the funding was in place for a major facelift.  Starting in 2011, the restoration project has seen the Gates intricately repaired, completely re-gilded with gold leaf, re-positioned and re-hung, back in their rightful, and newly landscaped, position within the Garden.   All of the repair work was undertaken using traditional techniques, using skilled craftsmen as close to home as possible. 

Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said: “As well as the most visible and widely appreciated features of our Gardens, the plant collections, we are also custodians of some truly original structures, such as the Golden Gates.  Through features such as these we can remember the history of Benmore, as an important Estate both locally and nationally, a creative trailblazer, famous and loved throughout the world – and these attributes are still true of Benmore today.

“It is marvellous to see these splendid gates back in their rightful place – and credit must go to the skilled craftsmen who laboured over what was a very complex project, the team and our friends at Benmore who championed the project, and our funders, without whom the result wouldn’t have been so magnificent.”

The Younger (Benmore) Trust which supports education, arts, heritage, culture, science and environmental protection and improvement at Benmore Botanic Garden, funded the gilding of the Gates along with support from the Rowan legacy and donations, while RBGE covered the cost of the structural and physical restoration. 

Sir Peter Hutchison, Chairman of the Younger (Benmore) Trust, said: “The Trust felt that this was an important moment to be able to help RBGE repair the Gates to a level beyond that which would simply halt their degradation.  This meant restoring them to their original, historically correct, condition – covering the entire structure with gold leaf.  We were delighted to be able to assist with this part of the project, and are pleased to see the Gates, looking resplendent in their new finery, back in their rightful place.”

Benmore Botanic Garden, which boasts a 4-star VisitScotland grading, welcomes approximately 50,000 visitors a year.  It is a Regional Garden of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh which is renowned for its international plant research and conservation work.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)