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Happy hutters on verge of historic £1.75m buyout

Published on 25 June 2012

A FAMOUS community of holiday hutters, who survive without mains electricity or proper plumbing just outside Glasgow, is close to making history as it moves to secure the £1.75 million needed to buy the site from a wealthy landowner.

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The Carbeth hutters were given three years in 2010 to find the sum after an amicable agreement was reached with owner Allan Barns-Graham.

It followed years of strained relations between the principle landowner and the group.

The truce came after a rent strike by hutters, which lasted more than 13 years.

There are currently more than 140 huts over 90 acres at Carbeth, near Blanefield, north of Milngavie, with the site offering an idyllic holiday escape for hut owners from nearby Glasgow and Clydebank since the 1920s.

Included in the land parcel is the old Carbeth Lido and the site of the "fellowship camp" – where the settlement first took root.

If they can buy the site the Carbeth Hutters will be the first community of its kind in the UK to own the land below their wooden second homes.

Meanwhile, landowner Mr Barns-Graham has put his seven-bedroom Georgian home and a small part of his estate on the market after roughly 120 years in the family.

Gerry Loose, secretary of the Carbeth Hutters Community Company, said the sale of Carbeth Guthrie Estate will not affect the hutter's buyout of their separate piece of land at neighbouring Carbeth Estate.

He said the hutters had made a down payment of around £220,000 for the site with a principle agreement made with a bank to fund the remainder of the purchase.

Mr Loose said: "We have to raise £1.75m and that is going very, very well. We have already raised £220,000 ourselves and are in talks with several potential funders, one of them a prominent bank who has given us a principle agreement.

"It's all systems go with the buyout."

He added: "The only way the sale of the house will impact on us is if the new owner has plans for the conservation area. Apart from that, we would welcome someone we could get along with. That is all we have ever wanted.

"In the past we had a landlord tenant arrangement that went bitterly sour but the fact that Mr Barns-Graham and the Carbeth Trust is willing to sell to us speaks volumes about our relationship now. You have to let by-gones be by-gones."

Mr Loose said that, following the buyout, the Carbeth Huts would never become a commercial venture. He said it will be a "learning model" on how to "live lightly on the land".

Mr Barns-Graham, 64, a chartered accountant, said he was selling Carbeth Guthrie Estate mainly because the house had become too big since his children left home.

However, he is planning to move to nearby Carbeth House – which is closer to the huts – for the time being.

He said: "Really, what I was trying to achieve in the 1990s was a slightly different version of what we have now, principally getting someone else to run the huts and keep them going. What I think we have achieved is even better.

"I think that is mainly because we have some first-class people leading the way. They are giving a wonderful lead to the hutters.

"I think it is going to make social history in Scotland and we certainly don't take the huts for granted. No-one should."

Efforts are being made to revive the hutting movement in Scotland with a proposal to build 1000 huts in wooded areas.

Hutting on sites such as Carbeth became popular between the wars as landowners parcelled off land for ex-servicemen and their families to enjoy.

Carbeth became home to a number of families during the Second World War after the ferocious bombing of Clydebank.

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