Edinburgh's leading heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association appoints first woman chair after 148 years
Leading Edinburgh heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association has appointed the first woman chair in its 148-year-long history.
Barbara Cummins, who previously worked for Edinburgh City Council and Heritage Environment Scotland, will take over from Emeritus Professor Cliff Hague who has been chair of the Cockburn since 2016. The association was founded in 1875 to promote the conservation of Edinburgh’s unique architectural and landscape heritage and is often outspoken about controversial proposed developments in the city.
Ms Cummins, who becomes the Cockburn’s 21st chair, said she it was an honour to be given the role. She said: “This is an exciting time for the Cockburn as we approach the 150th anniversary and there will be much to reflect back on and celebrate. I also know I have big shoes to fill and many challenges ahead as Edinburgh continues to evolve in the face of global issues and local pressures. I know the Cockburn has an important role to play in helping to shape the future, as well as celebrating the past, of this unique city.”
She trained as a town planner at Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot Watt University – where she studied under Professor Hague – and also has an MBA from Edinburgh University. Until April 2021 she was director of heritage at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) where she led the functions responsible for planning, advice and consents, designations, World Heritage Sites and the HES archives. And before that she led the listed buildings and city centre development management teams at the city council until 2009.
She lives in Colinton and is a past convener of the Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland.
Professor Hague, who steps down after seven years as chair, caused controversy with comments claiming cultural events had been allowed to "take over the city" and a warning that Edinburgh could lose its world heritage site status if it allowed the "festivalisation" of the Capital to continue unchecked.
He said he was “delighted” that Ms Cummins was taking over the chair. “It further demonstrates how the Cockburn is moving ahead, while building on its long and proud tradition of being a well-informed voice caring for Edinburgh. It has been an honour to be chair, and to work with such a team of talented and committed staff and trustees. As it looks towards its 150th anniversary in 2025, the need for the Cockburn is greater than ever, as Edinburgh faces the challenges of moving towards tackling the climate emergency and becoming a more equal city while sustaining its economic strengths.”