Origins of BERG

In 1890 the proprietors of the Braid Estate, (the Gordons of Cluny), formed the Braid Estate Recreation Grounds consisting of a bowling green and a tennis club with their associated pavilions. The cost of the construction of these facilities was added to the original purchase prices of the houses of the Braid Estate, then under construction. Braid Estate householders and their families were given an automatic right of entry to the clubs and so could leap-frog any waiting lists for membership.

Braid Estate in 1890


Historical Background

This early 1890s plan of the Braid Estate shows the estate boundaries and the recently completed Tennis and Bowling Clubs. As you can see work had yet to start on the eastern part of the estate (e.g Cluny Terrace and Cluny Place). The owners of all the houses on the Braid estate had to pay an annual fee or feu to the Gordons of Cluny as the feudal superiors - hence the word "feuar". Feudal tenure has its roots in the 11th and 12th century when the Scottish Crown began to assert its control over the country. When land was sold a "feu disposition" or conditions were attached. This continued down the selling chain, the seller becoming the "Superior" and the buyer/owner the "vassal". Originally, military obligations were included, but over time the conditions or burdens became financial or a sort of private planning permission system. As these feu duties were fixed, they became virtually worthless due to inflation, and effectively lapsed. Legislation ended feu duty payments in 1974. The feu burdens {conditions or rights}, however, remained. These were sometimes abused and also complicated land transactions. It was widely recognized that the system should be abolished, but at Westminster, there was never enough parliamentary time for such technical legislation. After the Scottish Parliament was formed in 1999 the issue was addressed. The Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000 abolished the feudal tenure system from 28 November 2004. Existing vassals {property owners} would cease to be vassals and would become straightforward owners of land; existing superiorities were abolished. The owners were now severally responsible for all liabilities of the land, in our case all the buildings and property of the Braid Estate Recreation Grounds. Thus the ultimate ownership of both the Tennis Club and the Bowling Club is shared by the c 250 houses that comprise the original Braid Estate.

Management of BERG and the Bowling and Tennis Clubs

The responsibility for the effective running of these facilities was assigned by the proprietors to a Committee of Management (BERG), comprising elected representatives of the feuars and representatives of both the Tennis and Bowling Clubs. This arrangement still operates today though, as stated previously, the feudal superiority of the Gordons of Cluny was ended with The Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000. While both the Tennis and Bowling Clubs have considerable flexibility to run their own affairs, nevertheless issues of governance, membership, subscriptions and major property matters are still the final responsibility of BERG, acting on behalf of the householders of the Braid Estate. Neither the Tennis nor the Bowling Clubs pays any rent to BERG. The arrangement is that once essential running costs have been deducted, any surplus left over from the annual subscription income is passed on to BERG. These monies are then held by BERG to be used for any major maintenance work that is required to be carried out or to support any major construction work identified by the respective clubs (e.g. the resurfacing of the tennis courts). Thereafter the clubs are free to raise their own funds to assist with running costs and minor improvements to the facilities.
These arrangements continue to operate smoothly to this day and there is a close working relationship between BERG and the respective Club committees. An annual newsletter is issued to feuars updating them regarding the operations of the two clubs.
However the BERG Committee would welcome new members.
The commitment is usually just attendance at the annual AGM of BERG which is usually held in February. Any member of either the Tennis Club or the Bowling Club who lives within the Braid Estate who would be interested in joining then please contact: Eric Melvin, 6 Cluny Place, EH10 4RL. 447/5578.

See also -

BERG Annual Newsletter (pdf) - reporting on the Bowling and Tennis Clubs. BERG Booklet (pdf) distributed to householders on the Braid Estate.