Two Acorn camps, or Working Holidays for young people, were held, to assist with projects on the Stratford-on-Avon canal. Since then thousands of volunteers have joined the Trust’s Working Holidays.
A volcano of discontent about the way the Trust was being run erupted at an Extraordinary General Meeting.
The most serious criticism came from Commander Conrad Rawnsley, grandson of one of the founders. He had been Appeal Director of Enterprise Neptune but was sacked after lambasting the leadership of the Trust at a press conference for being out of touch with ordinary members, elitist and too concerned with the preservation of country houses.
In response, the Council asked Sir Henry Benson to chair an Advisory Committee, to make recommendations on how the Trust should be restructured.
The Benson Report recommended that much of the administration of the Trust should be devolved to regions. These and other recommendations were rapidly implemented.
There followed a decade of unprecedented growth. The same year the Trust’s special statutory power to hold land inalienably was put to the test, over proposals to construct a section of the Plymouth by-pass through the park at Saltram. The Trust insisted that the matter was referred to a special Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament. The decision at Saltram went against the Trust, on the grounds that the road proposal had been known about before the park at Saltram was declared inalienable.
This could have been a serious weakening of the Trust’s powers, but a second decision, the following year, supported the Trust’s determination to resist the development of Rainbow Wood Farm, on the outskirts of Bath.
Membership of the Trust stood at 226,200 in its 75th anniversary year. By 1975 it had 500,000 members; and by 1981 a membership of over 1 million.
Under the newly appointed Director of Public Relations, Edward Fawcett, the Trust began to sell items such as tea towels at its properties, leading to the formation of National Trust Enterprises.
At Sutton House the Trust reversed an earlier decision to turn the building, owned since 1936, into flats, and instead decided to devote it to cultural and educational uses, for the benefit of the local community in Hackney, east London.
The Trust had two million members, more than the combined membership of all the political parties. It was advising on conservation work in Eastern Europe, India and in the Far East.
The Snowdonia appeal was launched by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who later helped the Trust to acquire part of Snowdon itself. The Lake District appeal, begun three years earlier, reached its target of £2 million over a year early.
A modern-movement house in Hampstead, 2 Willow Road, designed by Erno Goldfinger in 1938, was acquired. The Trust was increasingly assessing the historical significance of potential acquisitions rather than relying on aesthetic judgments or the vagaries of fashion.