Scottish tech entrepreneur revives historic farm



A Scottish tech entrepreneur is reviving one of Britain’s finest historic ‘model farms’ of the Agricultural Improvement Movement, that was designed and built in the mid-19th century.

Papple Steading originally sat within the Whittingehame Estate, whose Laird at the time was AJ Balfour, the British Prime Minister between 1902 and 1905.

George Mackintosh, founder of software testing firm Eggplant, bought Papple Steading in 2017 and has since acquired the farmhouse and adjoining Papple and Papana Woods.

He plans for the development in East Lothian to feature an agricultural heritage museum, business destination and community centre.

Papple Steading recently hired Verity Sinclair as director of operations and Sue Healy as curator for the Agricultural Heritage Centre.

The first phase of development is nearing completion and launch date is set for Spring 2021.

Mackintosh commented: “Scotland’s agricultural built heritage is being lost and as the son of a farmer, it’s always been a subject close to my heart.

“In fact, the ruins of my father’s first farm, Seafield of Raigmore in Inverness-shire, now sit at one corner of the Inverness Retail Park.”

He added: “In a post-Brexit environment, we are also starting to see the UK and Scottish Government’s roadmaps for the farming industry, proposed changes that will be more swingeing than at any time over the last 50 years.

“Accordingly, farming now faces a major rethink around its future in areas like productivity, sustainability and husbandry, and we want Papple to become part of this narrative.”

Hilary Cochran, deputy lieutenant of East Lothian Council and a local farmer, said: “As we face post pandemic social and economic reconfiguration there is much to glean from a careful but refreshingly modern re-examination of farming.

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“Papple Steading’s Heritage Centre can make a great contribution to East Lothian’s future wellbeing and prosperity.”

Last June, Eggplant was acquired by California-headquartered Keysight Technologies for $330m.

Edinburgh-based Mackintosh previously founded web conferencing business Geoconference in Glasgow in 1996, with the company being sold to Global Crossing (now CenturyLink) in 2000.

Mackintosh is also the chairman of shellfish exporter Laeso Fish, vice-chairman of the CBI’s SME Council, and an associate at the University of Edinburgh Business School.



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