The ESU was founded by writer and journlist Sir Evelyn Wrench after the horrors of World War One. Sir Evelyn felt that if the world was able to communicate more effectively, global understanding between nations would improve. English became a unifying language. His ideas are as relevant today as they were then. People who knew Sir Evelyn personally said that he had an energy and idealism that drove things forward. In the courtyard of Darmouth House, in honour of his work, is the engraving "What others have dreamed, he has done".
International friendship and understanding is at the heart of all we do at the ESU. Throughout our work there is a strong focus on young people - enabling them to utilise the skills of public speaking and debate to become confident communicators. As a membership organisation we offer the opportunity to be part of a global network, bringing people together to consider different ideas and to ponder the intricate richness of the English language.
In Scotland, the ESU has had a presence since the early 1920s, when a Branch was established in Edinburgh, with its own club rooms in South Charlotte Street.
1927 saw the dedication of the “Call” statue in Princes Street Gardens, erected as a tribute from Americans of Scottish blood and sympathies to Scotland’s contribution in the Great War. The driving force behind the subscription for this statue was the Philadelphia Branch of the ESU, and the Edinburgh Branch was much involved in the arrangements for the dedication ceremony. In 1932 the Edinburgh Branch organised the first annual commemoration service at the Call, and this has taken place every year since (with a three year hiatus during the darkest days of the War).
In 1952, the Scottish National Committee was formed, and ESU Scotland has ever since had its own separate legal identity and charity status and we have been based in Atholl Crescent since 1961.
1954 saw the launch of ESU Scotland’s inter-school debating competition, and intensive programmes of youth, student, trade union and professional exchanges were built up. At this time, before the establishment of tourist boards, a major service we offered was guidance on travel and accommodation to visitors. In 1968, 1986 and again in 2008 ESU Scotland was proud to play host to the World Members' Conference.
These days, ESU Scotland continues to work with fellow ESUs around the world and co-operate with other public and private organisations to offer a range of cultural and educational programmes.
We offer extensive speech and debate training for young people, including debating and public speaking competitions for schools and universities, training for teachers, and debates outreach programmes for schools. We also offer English language classes for non-native speakers and a lively and varied range of activities for our members and supporters.
The English-Speaking Union is now represented in over 50
England and Wales
Republic of Korea
United States of America