Boarded up villa in Aberdeen touted in Japan as top tourist draw

Thomas Blake Glover house at Bridge of Don

A boarded-up granite villa in Bridge of Don is being touted in Japan as a tourist destination in Aberdeen.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has been in Japan for the past week to drum up links between Scotland and the Land of the Rising Sun

Yesterday, she visited the Nagazaki home of Thomas Blake Glover, the Aberdeen industrialist, who is credited with founding modern Japan and the Mitsubishi conglomerate in the late 19th century.

There, Ms Hyslop promoted a new guide to the roots of Blake Glover in the north east in a hope to draw visitors to the area.

The guide features the former family home of the ‘Scottish Samurai’ in Balgownie Road which is described as a “dignified” house on the banks of the Don.

However, the property has been closed to the public for several years after a project to run it as a museum of the man’s work failed.

The house has been emptied of former exhibits with doors and windows sealed with shutters and padlocked closed.

Protracted legal discussions over the future of the property are ongoing, with Aberdeen City Council due to take over the running of the property from the Grampian Japan Trust.

Politicians last night welcomed the move to enhance links between Scotland to Japan – but said promoting the Blake Glover house must crystalise efforts to bring the property back into use.

Richard Baker MSP (Labour, North East), said: “I know that the council is keen to move forward with a solution for Thomas Blake Glover House.

“If the Scottish Government wants to promotes the house to tourists, it is important that they insure that Aberdeen City Council gets the right support from the Scottish Government.

“If they see it as a priority, they should be involved in helping find the solution – and helping to fund it.”

Blake Glover House in Balgownie Road was gifted to the Grampian Japan Trust in the 1990s but attempts to draw visitors failed to get the museum off the ground.

Aberdeen City Council is working to legally secure the property but complex restrictions on ownership have slowed down its efforts to take possession.

Mitsubishi officials were said to be furious that the gifted property had floundered but this week two top officials from the firm presented a letter to Lord Provost George Adam, praising efforts to revive the property.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There are strong and ongoing links between Aberdeen and Nagasaki thanks to Thomas Glover. As our news release makes clear, Aberdeen City Council is in the process of opening up access to Glover House in Bridge of Don to more visitors, and the house is just one part of the trail.”