Arthur Kinmond Bell, known throughout his life as A.K., successfully developed the Bell’s Whisky business, was a fine cricketer, and in his later years, an outstanding philanthropist.
Born in 1868, A.K. inherited Bell’s Whisky when his father died in 1900. With great acumen he built the company, improving the quality of the product and steadily increasing sales.
In 1899 he had married Camilla Bruce and lived in Perth together, purchasing Kincarrathie House as their main home. A.K. Bell is known to have read John Ruskin’s work, whose philosophical ideas must have been deeply appealing to a man who had inherited his father’s interest in giving generously and giving well to those who needed it. A keen cricketer A.K. and Camilla were delighted to host the Australian cricket legend Donald Bradman and his wife Jessie in 1934.
‘Unfailing and generous kindness’
After the First World War, national and local government was investing in new housing, and rapid house building was happening in Perth. In 1922, A.K. purchased land and property with the aim of building houses; work on the first houses began in 1923. Both the houses and the estate were distinctive. A.K. spent his funds to achieve quality and was closely involved in the construction, with those involved recognising his ‘unfailing and generous kindness’. A believer in the health-giving properties of exercise, fresh air and the outdoors, every house had an ample garden outside and a plaque inside extolling the virtues of ventilation to the tenants.
A.K. Bell instructed that income should be used to maintain the housing, property and land, with any remaining funds being distributed to in his words: ‘recreational clubs and institutions operating within the city of Perth as may…be performing beneficial service to the youth of the community and as may be selected by the Trustees and as are in the opinion of the trustees in need of charitable aid’.
‘exercise, fresh air and the outdoors’
In 1937, A.K. Bell established The Gannochy Trust and gifted part of his estate to the care of a small group of Trustees ‘to be held by them for certain charitable and public purposes for the benefit of the community of Perth and district’. He transferred to The Gannochy Trust the newly built Gannochy housing estate; Doo’cot Park and the cricket pavilion; farms and farmland; Quarrymill Woodland Park; and other properties.
In April 1942, A.K. Bell died, leaving his wife Camilla and the now established board of trustees with responsibility for The Gannochy Trust. In January 1959, Camilla Bell died and bequested her wealth and marital home, Kincarrathie House, to The Gannochy Trust. This property was developed as a home for older people and the independent Kincarrathie Trust was established in 1960.
‘interpreting his priorities’
Since then successive Trustees have striven to fulfil A.K.’s wishes as they were expressed in the Trust Deed and his will. Interpreting his priorities in the context of present day challenges remains a key aim for The Gannochy Trust.