The new chairman of the National Trust, former KwikFit and Clarks Shoes boss Tim Parker has laid out his vision for the future of the organisation. In no particular order this includes acquiring 21st century buildings instead of historic properties, making the trust more “eye catching” and using property to “home in on” slavery.
Speaking in an interview with Country Life Magazine, the ‘turnaround manager’ – business parlance for a man who is employed on a short-term basis to reverse the fortunes of ailing businesses said: “we also need to do things from time to time that are eye catching.
“The 21st century is quickly becoming history and the public is interested in industrial history”. The interview suggested the next major acquisition by the trust under the stewardship was more likely to be a building of industrial character rather than “an 18th century Palladian mansion”.
Another theme is the modernisation of the way the Trust presents itself, which has also been a major subject of discussion for new director-general Dame Helen Ghosh. Parker said that no matter how beautiful any particular object in the National Trust collection is, if its manufacture involved “exploitation” – a polite term for slavery – then the public “should see history for what it is”.
Parker, who ran the University Labour group while studying at Oxford in the 1970’s has said the Trust is “already experimenting”. The comments follow those he already made earlier this year, as reported by the Daily Telegraph, that the National Trust has a role to play in making migrants to the United Kingdom feel more at home by making the houses relevant to them.
Breitbart London reported earlier this month on the apparent takeover of the National Trust by “left-liberal entryists”, following comments by new director-general Helen Ghosh. Dame Ghosh, who it was said was “more at home in court shoes than gum boots”, and “for being pretty low-grade and thick” has set the significant resources of the Trust to combat “the biggest single threat” to their historical holdings – climate change.
Policies for making the Trust more relevant includes installing wind turbines on the historic estates, which it acquired after the 20th century British government policy of taxing wealthy families out of existence and taking their homes in lieu of debt payments, and focussing on making it appeal to a less middle class audience.
In a separate report this week, Breitbart London noted that in its drive for relevance, it would be replacing historic furniture in some properties with bean-bags to make visitors feel more welcome.
Art historian Bendor Grosvenor said of the move: “I don’t think you’ll ever bring in a new audience by talking down to it. Experimentation and bringing in new audiences are marvellous but there are better ways of doing it by taking away things people might want to see. It’s patronising nonsense”.