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Summerlee Heritage Museum

scotland tram picture photograph

Coatbridge is a former industrial town situated 11 miles from Glasgow and 39 miles from Edinburgh and is just off the main arterial motorway the M8. It is very easy for visitors to visit and yet it will often go unnoticed by them probably due to the description in the preceding sentence. However, what makes the town unique is that rather than trying to obliterate every single piece of evidence of their former industrial heritage, they have in fact celebrated it by opening "the noisiest museum" in Scotland.

If you are interested in Scottish History then visiting this museum is a must. The attraction consists of a variety of exhibition areas and the best news of all- it is free. The main entrance is the best place to start with parking available just across the road. The entrance consists of a small gift shop and the indispensable (as far as Scottish Tourism is concerned) tea-room and restaurant. However the entrance also houses a small alternating exhibition. When I visited last, it was an exhibition of artwork and photographs by local schoolchildren, but if this is of no interest it is changed quite regularly and I have witnessed a wide range of diverse exhibits including an extensive Scottish football one.

The main exhibition hall is packed full of a range of exhibits which celebrate everything that the area was famous for and gives a flavour of Scotland wide exhibits and indeed some from around the world. The museum doesn't sell itself as Scotland's noisiest museum by pretence. This certainly isn't one of those museums where you will stare blankly as exhibits, worrying about your children making a noise. It has working machinery, which helps create the atmosphere of a real living, working museum including mock ups of Tin workshops, garage workshops, co-operative shops and machine houses all with real genuine machines, parts and exhibits. In addition it has exhibits celebrating Scotland's living past rather than just its industrial heritage with a "Wurlitzer" type organ, wartime clothing, wedding dresses from the 1920's etc.

Having left the main exhibition hall you have two choices. You can board the tram (cost seventy pence- which is the only cost for the whole exhibit) or walk down to the miner's cottages. It is a short walk but have you ever been on a tram? The miners' cottages are well designed to show what life was like through the ages from late 1800's to the modern 1960's. It will also amaze you as to what you can actually remember of these times (assuming of course, that you are old enough)

Also in this area is a mock up of a coalmine, which shows what conditions were like for those working underground. Now for those of you who are claustrophobic or afraid of the dark, don't even think about this part. You don't really appreciate how dark it is underground until the door slams shut and there is no light other than the solitary guide's torch. If you can, overcome any fear you may have, this is a part of the attraction which is possibly the most interesting.

The attraction also has a number of other exhibits dotted around the site such as the Vulcan boat and a steam train.It addition it has part of the old canal running through its grounds and extensive play and amenity areas.

You can easily spend a morning here and after you have finished you could travel the short distance to the Ice Capsule, which is a large civic amenity consisting of ice rink, swimming pool, sauna and squash courts.

You see, Coatbridge is indeed a tourist attraction.

Summerlee Heritage Park
Heritage Way
Coatbridge ML5 1QD
Telephone: 01236 431261

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