£625,000 boost for economist Adam Smith’s house

Panmure House, owned by Heriot-Watt, was home to Adam Smith. Picture: Gareth Easton

Panmure House, owned by Heriot-Watt, was home to Adam Smith. Picture: Gareth Easton

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CONSERVATION work on the “home of Scottish Enlightenment” will start early next year after campaigners were given a £625,000 boost.

Panmure House was the 18th-century Edinburgh home of the celebrated economist and philosopher Adam Smith, but has been lying empty and unused for years.

Edinburgh Business School – part of Heriot-Watt University – bought the Canongate property from the city council for £800,000 in May 2008 to turn it into a centre for ­economic excellence.

The donation, from the Global Philanthropic Trust which supports educational institutes to promote libertarian causes, will help ensure work can start early next year, with its opening scheduled for autumn 2015.

Project director Chris Watkins said it meant there would finally be a “proper commemoration to the father of modern economics.” He said: “In many way Adam Smith’s role has not been fully recognised in Edinburgh. The opportunity to create a living memorial in the house where he spent the last 12 years of his life is a wonderful asset to have in the city.

“It will be a fantastic ­educational centre for school children to visit and we hope to hold ­keynote lectures there. Adam Smith was a key figure of the Scottish Enlightenment and many f­igures such as James Hutton – the father of geology – will have visited him there.”

Best known for his book ‘The Wealth of Nations,’ Smith promoted free trade at a time when ­governments controlled most commercial interests.

Smith argued against government intervention in free market practises, a theory which forms the basis of capitalism. He believed the free market would be guided by “the invisible hand” finding its own balance without interference. During his teaching career, Smith gave public lectures at the University of Edinburgh and was a contemporary of David Hume.

Professor Keith Lumsden, director and founder of EBS, who also chairs the fundraising committee of the Panmure House Campaign, said he was delighted by the ­donation.

He said: “Adam Smith is often said to be the world’s first economist, he is a vital part of Scotland’s heritage and a beacon of intellectual endeavour.

“Revitalising his last home as an educational centre will help ensure his pioneering thinking lives on in the minds of future generations.”