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Problems of a Scottish Provincial Town
Chapter I. The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust


UNDER a Trust Deed dated the 18th August, 1903, and executed by Mr. Andrew Carnegie, Bonds of the United States Steel Corporation to the value of £500,000, together with a property in Dunfermline known as Pittencrieff Park and Glen, were vested in twenty-three trustees to be held on behalf of the inhabitants of Dunfermline. The interest on the Bonds amounted to £25,000 annually, and the Trust Deed directed that the revenue was to be applied for the good of the community, but particularly of the toiling masses of the town. In a letter which accompanied the Trust Deed the founder stated that he wished to give these latter—especially the young— some charm, some happiness, some elevating conditions of life, which residence elsewhere would have denied, and that the problem before the trustees was,

"What can be done in towns for the benefit of the masses by money in the hands of the most public-spirited citizens?" The experimental nature of the work to be undertaken was emphasised, and the trustees were urged to be "Pioneers, always ahead."

The founder, however, distinctly stated that the funds of the Trust were not to be used to relieve the town of its proper burdens and duties.

"Not what other cities have is your standard; it is the something beyond this which they lack, and your funds should be strictly devoted to this. It is not intended that Dunfermline should be relieved from keeping herself abreast of other towns generation after generation, according to the standards of the time. This is her duty, and no doubt will continue to be her pride."

It is important to remember this vital restriction on the operations of the Trust, which, if strictly adhered to, may greatly increase the value of its work. Going beyond the work usually undertaken by municipalities, and carrying to a successful issue schemes usually regarded as outside their sphere, the Trust will gradually set a higher standard for all civic authorities, and may arouse a far greater sense of responsibility on their part for the social condition of the people, than has been hitherto generally shown.

This restriction on the work of the Trust has also decided, for the most part, the scope of the present book. The writer has mainly dealt with such schemes as may properly be undertaken by the Trust, and has largely left untouched the ordinary municipal institutions, which are the pride of most public-spirited towns.

The constitution of the Trust is important, and calls for special mention. The Trust Deed nominates sixteen trustees who are to hold office for life, and who have power to fill any vacancies which may occur in their body, and directs the election every three years of six members of the Corporation, and three members of the School Board or other Educational Authority for the time, to act with the life trustees. It will thus be seen that a large majority of the trustees will always be life members, and accountable to no one for their actions. There is a considerable element of danger in this somewhat extraordinary constitution, since it is not easy to see what redress the citizens would have against a body of reactionary and foolish men, who might observe the letter of the Trust Deed while they violated its spirit. An obviously better plan, and one which will surely be followed should any other civic trust be founded, would be to subject the whole of the trustees to election at intervals of not less than five years. Such an interval would give each body elected an adequate opportunity of maturing their schemes, and of proving themselves worthy of the trust reposed in them. On the other hand, this arrangement would be some safeguard to the community against an incompetent, reactionary, or corrupt trust. It would be possible for the progressive members of the town to organise their forces, and to secure the maintenance upon the Trust of a body of responsible, earnest, wise men, who, with a singleness of purpose, would devote themselves to the vital problems of the town.

Even under the present constitution of the Trust, a healthy public opinion will necessarily have some influence upon its policy, and in a later chapter the establishment of a Civic Union will be urged.

Two other points in connection with the constitution of the Trust are to be noted. The present chairman is appointed for life by the Trust Deed. No women are among the present trustees. The former arrangement is of doubtful value, and on the retirement of the present chairman it will probably not be perpetuated. As to the latter point, it does not appear from the Trust Deed that women are debarred from acting as trustees, and it is to be hoped that at no far distant date some will be so acting. In a town containing so large a number of young women, who form the greater proportion of the factory operatives, the presence of women of needful sympathies and experience upon the Trust would be of the highest value.


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