- 30 August 2017
- Simone Keir
History of the Club
During the last dark days of the First World War, an idea came to an Officer in The Royal Scots. His name was Lord Henry Scott and he was the younger son of the 6th Duke of Buccleuch. From his experience in the War, he had come to realise that it was not necessary to be of noble birth to be a gentleman. He resolved that, after the War, he would try to raise a sum of money to create in Edinburgh a gentleman’s Club for all ranks of the regiment in memory of its Fallen, whose numbers finally came to nearly twelve thousand. Their names are contained in a hand-written book in the Memorial Cabinet in the Entrance Hall, which also contains a book of the names of the Fallen of the Second World War.
In February 1919, Lord Henry called a meeting of distinguished Scots connected with the Regiment and put to them his plan. As a result the Royal Scots War Memorial Fund was formed, Trustees appointed and a Public Appeal made which yielded £2,000 in the first week, growing subsequently to £17.000. In property values this is the modern equivalent of about £5 million. Premises were acquired in the American Army leave huts in St. Andrews Square which were twelve months old. In 1921 Nos. 30 & 31 Abercromby Place were purchased, No 29 being bought several years later. The Hall, and what was then the Billiards Room, now our function suites, were built to the rear of the building in 1929. The Club was a success from the start with Lord Henry as Chairman, an office he held until 1944.
The Club has been honoured by the unstinting support of two Royal patrons. In the beginning as Colonel in Chief of the Regiment, the late Princess Mary, The Princess Royal. Today, we are extremely honoured to have as Club Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, The Princess Anne. The past sixty years has brought about a vast upheaval in the pattern of society, and the Trustees and succeeding Committees have been conscious of the necessity to interpret these changes and react wisely to them.
The Club has the great benefit of having its property owned and maintained by the aforementioned War Memorial Fund, the Trustees of which are invariably most generous. For 23 years it had the added bonus of having, in Mr Brian Adair, a Chairman of Trustees who was both indefatigable in the discharge of his duties and the possessor of considerable vision. Since Autumn 2014, the new Chairman of Trustees has been Maj Gen Mark Strudwick CBE, who is proving to be a worthy successor.
In the fifties, the numbers of Royal Scots began to diminish and in 1958, members were invited to propose their sons for Membership. This franchise was gradually enlarged in the following years until the Club became open to any gentleman duly proposed and seconded. In 1981, it was decided to admit Member’s Wives and the Widows of former Members, and for over a decade we have had full Lady Members. For the first fifty years, three very fine Secretaries ran the Club. The first of these was Captain T. Clark, MC who retired in 1947. Nicknamed ‘Nobby’, he was seldom addressed as such, being of somewhat formidable character. Major T.H. Simpson, MC, who worked tirelessly for the Club, never more so than in the fifteen years following his retirement in 1978, followed him. His successor was Captain D. Mannifield, who was a former Bandmaster of the Regiment. In order to regulate our affairs in a modern way, it was decided some years ago to engage professional management, and the Club’s present Manager, Mr Adrian Hayes was appointed 1999.
For many years the three stories below street level were largely unused, but a solution to this situation presented itself some years ago when fitness clubs first gained popularity. First The Flying Scot Club, then Fitness First ran very successful health clubs, and it was only a few years ago that they moved on.
In May 2011 the Club finished a new refurbishment project, which included the installation of a passenger lift offering easy access to all floors, the opening of the new Princess Royal Suite which holds up to 160 people, the conversion of the former Mews Cottage into four en-suite bedrooms and the construction of a small balcony off the Cocktail Bar where members can enjoy their drinks in the sun during the Summer months.
Members of the Royal Scots Club enjoy reciprocal rights with an ever increasing number of other Clubs world-wide, at present 100+ in number, eighteen of which are in London. Our members often enjoy great comfort and hospitality when staying in these Clubs, and we are regularly pleased to return this courtesy in view of Edinburgh’s pre-eminence as a world famous centre of tourism.
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