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A celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Forestry Commission Scotland’s David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre will take place tomorrow (Sunday 15th of August).
The specially invited guests who will make their way to the Aberfoyle attraction include descendants of David Marshall, Chairman of the Carnegie Trust throughout the 1950s and whose idea it was that the Trust should fund the construction of the Lodge.
The Commission’s Gordon Donaldson said:
“It was certainly well ahead of its time, providing families with a place to enjoy a picnic lunch, safe from the vagaries of the Scottish weather. The only provision then was hot water for tea and coffee but designed and built to be in harmony with the location, it set the high standard for Park development across the country.
“Of course, now David Marshall Lodge is a well-loved location and facility that has grown and evolved over the decades just as much as the Commission.”
Commending the management team on their success, Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, said:
“Awareness of public access and recreation needs, as well as environmental considerations, were quite new ideas in the 1960s. The Commission only appointed its first Wildlife Officer and give the general public the “right to roam” in the Commission’s forests in 1964.
“Now, the Commission is very much focussed on multi-purpose forestry, with conservation, amenity and environmental issues central to their work.
“David Marshall Lodge plays a huge part in welcoming and informing the thousands of visitors who come to Aberfoyle and the Forest Park every year. I wish the team there every success for the future.”
Although it is now an internationally known centre for nature tourism, the Lodge nearly didn’t come to Aberfoyle at all.
The Carnegie Trust were originally looking at a location in the Peak District but withdrew their offer after misreporting of the project as a “tea pavilion” caused a local outcry. They turned their attention to Scotland and the Forestry Commission, eventually deciding to built the lodge above Aberfoyle, here in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
The trials and tribulations of the early years are all documented in a new book looking at the history of the lodge that is being launched to coincide with the occasion.
Author and Commission employee, David Willkie, said:
“It was quite a big thing for its time and even Mrs Carnegie Miller, the only surviving daughter of Andrew Carnegie, made a special journey to attend the ceremony.
“The opening speeches highlighted the importance of providing amenities which offered relaxation and a carefree atmosphere, as well as ambitions that children would be inspired by the beautiful surroundings and encouraged to “respect and look after things of natural beauty.
“The Lodge has fulfilled all of those dreams – and more – and now draws thousands of tourists to Aberfoyle and the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park every year."
The book, which was researched, designed and funded by Mr Wilkie, is available from the Commission’s Cowal & Trossachs District Office, the Commission’s Edinburgh HQ, Tourist Information Visitor Centres and other outlets within the National Park. It has around seventy pages and will retail at just under £5.00.
1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and manages the 665,000 hectare national forest estate. Scottish forestry is making a sustainable contribution to Scotland’s economy. Over 31,000 jobs are now supported by the forestry sector in Scotland and the industry generates around £670 million each year. With wood being an important and renewable resource, our forests and woodlands are helping support many rural communities and businesses. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
2) David Marshall Lodge offers some of the most spectacular views in the area, including a stunning view across Loch Ard Forest to Ben Lomond. The popular play park, woodland trails, wildlife viewing stations and the famous Bluebell Cafe make it the ideal day out for families
3) Invited guests will include representatives of Forestry Commission Scotland, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, Carnegie Trust, and the local Community Council and Community Trust. Eleven descendants of David Marshall will be guests of honour.