Home of Scots Mitsubishi pioneer on track for £150k facelift

Victorian industrialist Thomas Blake Glover. Picture: Jamie Ross
Victorian industrialist Thomas Blake Glover. Picture: Jamie Ross
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The home of a Scottish pioneer who founded one of the world’s most famous Japanese companies looks set for a £150,000 facelift under new plans set about by the Bridge of Don Trust.

Victorian industrialist Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911) was born and educated in Fraseburgh and went on to found the Mitsubishi company, introduce the first trains to Japan and his colourful life with his wife is said to be the inspiration behind the original ‘Madame Butterfly’.

During the late 1800s to early 1900s Japan saw imperial rule returned to the country under Emperor Meiji, Glover was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in 1908 as recognition of the work he did to help transform the Asian country during this transformative time known as the Meiji Restoration.

His family home was bought by Mitsubishi 20 years ago then handed over to the Grampian-Japan Trust and converted into a museum.

The building eventually fell into a state of disrepair and closed as a visitor attraction in 2012.

However a recent proposal has been drawn up to help restore the building to its former glory as a heritage centre celebrating the historic links between the Granite City and the Far East.

Councillors are being urged to approve a £150,000 grant from the Bridge of Don Trust at a meeting of the local authority next week.

The trust was originally intended to fund and maintain the bridge across the city’s river Don in the 16th century but the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has ruled that surplus cash from the trust may now be used to preserve other aspects of the city’s heritage.

Council officials have recommended that the proposal for Thomas Glover House is approved by members.

In a report, which will go before councillors on Wednesday states: “This report recommends that £150,000 of these trust funds be used for a grant towards the renovation and redevelopment of Thomas Glover House in line with the new charitable purpose of the advancement of heritage.”

Investment group Aberdeen Asset Management pledged last month to do “whatever it takes” to bring the property back to life and help preserve Glover’s legacy.