Museum of social and industrial history. Heritage Way, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire ML5 1QD Tel: +44 (0)1236 431 261 Fax: +44 (0)1236 440 429
OPEN: Mid Feb-31 Oct Daily 10am-5pm; CLOSED: Nov-Jan. „
A cheap day out! *About Summerlee* Summerlee is a heritage park which is based on the ground of the most important ironworks within Scotland. The ironworks were opened in 1836, however as the steelworks became more popular, this led to a decline in the need for the site. It was demolished in the late 1930s and the remains of the ironworks were covered over. The site was then used by various light engineering companies after the war. The museum was opened to the public in 1987 and other attractions have been added since then. Summerlee is set in 22acres . *Where is it* Summerlee Heritage Park is located in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire which is a few miles outside of Glasgow. *How do i get there* It is a short walk from Coatbridge Central Railway Station and bus stops. It is well signposted and down a short street. *Price* Admission is free however some attractions you do have to pay for. *Attractions* New exhibition all with interactive displays - various displays of iron works, cars etc Electric tramway - a tram can take you a journey through the park to the miners cottages. This is charged at £1 for a return fare! Underground mine - Experienced staff can take you underground to the real mine Miners cottages - these have been designed to be like the cottages miners would have lived in. There are presented well and you can go in so far and view it. Playpark - down a fairly steep hill and near the huge lake there is a large swing and play park for children. There is also an area where you can have a picnic. *Other facilities* Cafe - located in the main building and run by North Lanarkshire Council the cafe offers a wide selection of snacks and meals at very competitive prices. Your order at the til and take a seat and your food is brought to you. Highchairs and baby food warming facilities available on request. Gift shop - located as you enter the main building. It sells various token gifts, sweets, postcards and stationary. Depending on what you are buying will depend on the price you pay. There is also a small gift shop near the miners cottages which sells home made jams! Free parking - a limited amount of free onsite carparking is available. Toilets - available in the main building. *Address* Heritage Way Coatbridge ML5 1QD Tel 01236 638460 *My opinion* My sister used to take me to Summerlee as a treat when i was young and i always enjoyed it. Since then there have been major developements within the park such as every display and the giftshop/cafe has been moved to the main building and the smaller building at the entrance is no longer used. Since the refurbishments in 2008, i returned with my son and partner a few months ago. We travelled by train from our local station and it took us a few minutes to walk in to the park from the station. We were hoping to go on the tram however the wee one fell asleep in his pram and there wasnt enough room to go on with the pram up however before this we went to the play park. It was very busy but my son managed to blag a swing and loved it. We took a wander round the lake which was pretty dirty yet someone was still fishing in it! Up the steep hill (yes i was knackered by the time i reached the top) we went into the main building and took a wander round the displays which were well presented and very noisy! We settled down for lunch which was nice. I had a roll and chips and juice and hubby had a cheeseburger and chips. The wee one decided he wanted to throw his food on the floor and when we asked for a brush to clear it up, one of the staff was over like a shot, very helpful! After lunch when the wee one had fell asleep, we took a wander up to the miners cottages which depending on your pace will take on average 10-15minutes. We bought some jam from the giftshop up there and they walked back down to the main giftshop to buy some little souvenirs for our sons memory box. We had a really good time and didnt spend a great deal of money which is good when you dont have alot to spend in the first place! I would recommend this to anyone with children from school age onwards. Tip - during school holidays, they have various activities on in the main hall with high skilled childrens workers which is well worth looking into
Billed as "Scotland's Noisiest Museum", Summerlee Heritage Park really is a hidden gem. The reason I say 'hidden' gem is that the museum does not benefit from a great deal of advertising and promotional blurb, mainly because it is free to the public to enter. That means that not too many people outwith the local area are even aware of its existence. The museum is funded by the local Council, who to their great shame recently attempted to have it shut during the winter months. A huge local public outcry soon put paid to that suggestion though, so thankfully it remains open all year round. To understand the local importance of the museum I will say a few words on the history of the area, quickly though :) The museum is located in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire - about 11 miles from Glasgow City Centre and about 40 miles from Edinburgh. Following the Industrial Revolution Coatbridge became known as the 'Iron Burgh' due to its many iron works. The iron producing history of the area makes it an ideal host for a project such as Summerlee Museum. The museum itself is situated on the site of the former Summerlee Iron Works, and has become the main showplace in Scotland for exhibits of the heavy engineering, iron and steel industries. Yes, I know that in itself may not sound too appealing to many people, but there really is so much more to Summerlee. Facilities and exhibits include: * - A large exhibition hall which is full of reconstructions of things like a spade forge, Victorian trade exhibition, brass finishers shop, models of steelworks, vintage cars and even a 'green goddess' fire engine. * - The Ironworks Gallery, which houses all manner of temporary exhibitions as well as activity workshops for schoolchildren and community groups. * - An early 20th century driftmine including a mine-shaft where the atmosphere of working in a pit can be sampled - not recommended for claustrophobics. * - A working tramway (which I believe is the only one in Scotland). For a small fee tram driving lessons are available! * - Two rows of reconstructed Miners cottages, amounting to five dwellings in all. The cottages date from 1840 to 1960 with fully furnished interiors giving a real feel of what life would have been like for the miners of each era. * - Social history displays which show the links between the local industries and the communities that grew up around them. * - Restored steam engines and cranes/lifting gear, and a reconstruction of the first Scottish iron hulled barge (the Vulcan). * - Large outdoor park area centered around a re-opened section of the Monkland Canal (which was used mainly to ship iron products to Glasgow). This area includes picnic tables and walkways. * - A programme of special events which are held both indoors and outdoors. * - A shop and tearoom (which is very competitively priced). Entry to the museum is free - which is always the best price!, and free car parking is also available. If you would rather come by train there are two stations in close proximity to the museum, Coatbridge Central (on the Glasgow Central - Motherwell - Cumbernauld line) and Coatbridge Sunnyside (Airdrie to Helensburgh/Balloch, via Glasgow Queen Street, line). The museum is also only a couple of minutes walk from Coatbridge town centre so is easily accessible by bus. Opening hours are 10am till 5pm daily except 25th/26th December and 1st/2nd January. The museum can be contacted by 'phone on (01236) 431261, by fax on (01236) 440429 or by post at Summerlee Heritage Trust, Heritage Way, Coatbridge ML5 1QD. If you live in central Scotland and have not visited Summerlee I would strongly advise you to do so. For those of you who are further afield, please do bear it in mind if you are ever visiting central Scotland, or perhaps if you come from a community that has roots in the iron industry it may even be wor th making a trip just to visit Summerlee. It really is a great and inexpensive day out which is interesting, informative and fun.