The historic home of the north-east man credited with helping to orchestrate an industrial revolution in Japan could soon house students from the Land of the Rising Sun under new council plans.
The plan would see the city council, Aberdeen University and global firm Aberdeen Asset Management work in collaboration to transform the Bridge of Don home of Thomas Blake Glover, so it can be used “to develop an international educational exchange programme.”
The property has recently undergone a £300,000 renovation making it wind and water tight.
Thomas Blake Glover was born in Fraserburgh in 1838 and his family subsequently moved to Aberdeen.
He is widely accredited with the transformation of Japan during the Meiji Restoration and is widely associated with the Mitsubishi Corporation.
His Aberdeen home was bought by Mitsubishi in 1996, and was later given to the Grampian-Japan Trust as the prelude to being converted into a museum. The council have since taken ownership.
The home used to be a tourist museum before closing in 2012 due to lack of visitors and rising costs. But the possibility of restoring the property as a tourist attraction has been ruled out ahead of next week’s meeting of the finance committee.
Finance convener, and councillor for Bridge of Don, Willie Young said: “Thomas Glover House is an important, under-used asset, who is of huge benefit to the city of Aberdeen.
“The city council and our partners at Aberdeen Asset Management and the University of Aberdeen recognise the strong ties Thomas Glover has with Japan and our idea is to work together to utilise Thomas Glover House as a vehicle to promote the strong links between the City of Aberdeen, the UK, Scotland and Japan.
“The city council will work with the private and public sector to look at how we can offer scholarships to Japanese students who will then stay in Thomas Glover House for the duration of their scholarship.
“I am proud the council has invested over £300,000 to refurbish Thomas Glover House so that it can be utilised for cultural and educational exchange programmes with our friends from Japan.”
However, Dominic Fairley, the chair of Aberdeen Civic Society, argued the council should consider keeping some of the house open to the public.
He said: “The house is a very significant part of Aberdeen’s heritage.”