Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 09:57 UK

Town gifted millionaire's mansion

Haining House
Haining House has been left to the community in Selkirk in order to be turned into a major attraction for the Scottish Borders town

A millionaire lawyer has shocked community leaders by bequeathing his historic home to a small Scottish town.

Andrew Nimmo-Smith wanted Haining House in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders to be turned into a visitor attraction.

The 85-year-old passed away at Borders General Hospital last month and his funeral took place in Edinburgh.

However, in his will he has asked that the A-listed mansion, which also has its own loch set in 150 acres of land, be enjoyed by the people.

His only stipulation is that it should be for architectural, cultural or historical benefit to the community.

It is a real jewel, situated close to the town centre, and the potential is enormous
Jeremy Purvis MSP

A group of trustees has been appointed to see through his wishes with an art gallery or museum among the initial ideas.

Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale MSP Jeremy Purvis said: "It is a very exciting project.

"I have had discussions with the trustees already and I will do everything I can to assist them.

"It is a real jewel, situated close to the town centre, and the potential is enormous."

Mr Nimmo Smith was a distinguished city solicitor serving Dudgeon, Farmer and Matthews in Moray Place, Edinburgh, from 1966 to his retirement in 1992.

Haining House
The bequest includes a loch and 150 acres of land

He was a member of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet - Scotland's oldest independent association for lawyers.

Mr Nimmo-Smith led an extremely private existence throughout his retirement at the house his family bought in the 1950s.

The Palladian mansion dates back to the late 1800s but documentation exists of the estate, which was a Scott stronghold, from the 15th Century.

As well as its own loch, woodland, and designed terraces and landscapes, the estate hosts bear and wolf cages and several underground tunnels.

Parts of the estate were sold off in the 1980s for housing and the nearby stable block was also turned into flats.

However, the property and its picturesque grounds could still fetch several million pounds on the open market.

'Gloriously heartened'

Selkirk Regeneration Trust discussed the possibility of the house and estate being left to the people with the late Mr Nimmo-Smith a couple of years ago.

Chairman of the group, Dr Lindsay Neil, was still surprised by his generosity.

He said: "I am gloriously heartened by what has emerged from the will.

"This will make a real difference to the town of Selkirk and surrounding area.

"The Haining House and estate will create a lot of interest and will hopefully generate a lot of inward investment."

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