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Those that do not remember the past are condemned to relive it

29th Mar 2012

Those that do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.

George Santanaya (1863-1952)

I have always thought that it is essential for everybody to study the past so that at least humankind have some chance of making an attempt to avoid the mistakes of previous generations. I do not subscribe to the view that ‘we learn from history that we never learn from history’ otherwise the great industrial, social and economic progress of the last 200 years would never have taken place.

For that reason, I became a schoolteacher and attempted to exhilarate and enthuse my classes with the study of the past. It was only a small step, therefore, to want to do the same for the people of Edinburgh and many visitors to this wonderful city.

It was the winter of 1984/85 when Mercat Tours was established by four young and dynamic history teachers. At that time, there were no regular, scheduled walking tours of the city. Our aim was to provide quality guided tours which would operate throughout the summer, or at least the school summer holidays.

Traditionally visitors would go to the Mercat Cross on the High Street to seek out local information or even a guide, we decided that all our tours would start at the Mercat Cross and hence the company would be named Mercat Tours. The rest, as they say, is history…!

The first tour took place 1st July 1985 and we ran only two tours a day. Now, 27yrs on, we have diversified and now provide a wide range of tours in and around Scotland, historic characters for historic settings and even tours of the battlefields of Europe provided by our sister Company Mercat Tours International. This has been achieved through the dedication and hard work of our highly motivated permanent staff and an exceptionally talented group of guides.

My teaching motto has always been, ‘History is a damned good story. What it needs is damned good telling!’ I am honoured, humbled and delighted to say that happens every day from the Mercat Cross.

Des Brogan

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