The David Livingstone Centre is a biographical museum in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, dedicated to the life and work of the explorer and missionary David Livingstone. The centre is operated by the National Trust for Scotland and is housed in a category A listed building. It is located in the former mill buildings which once housed 24 families including Livingstone's, and where he was born on 19 March 1813. The centre depicts Livingstone's life from his early childhood working in the mill, to his African explorations. These are illustrated with the aid of various pieces of his navigational and medical equipment, interspersed with African artefacts. A committee to promote the creation of a Scottish National Memorial to David Livingstone was established in 1925 and the tenement in which Livingstone was born was acquired in 1927. In 1926, the architect and town planner Sir Frank Mears was engaged to oversee the development of the project. Pilkington Jackson was commissioned to sculpt the several bronze tableaux depicting the life of Livingstone and a World Fountain in the Memorial grounds
David Livingstone’s early life was very typical of the time. He was born in 1813 in a one-room house in Shuttle Row, a tenement shared with 23 other families. His parents both worked at the nearby Blantyre Cotton Mill where, aged 10, David also started working 14 hours a day to bring in money. From these humble beginnings as a factory boy to becoming the first European to explore large areas of Africa was a long, hard journey. When he wasn’t working at the mill, he educated himself with books, until he was accepted at Anderson’s College Glasgow to study medicine and theology, where he studied for long hours after a full day’s work. This allowed him to become a missionary doctor and he made his first trip to Africa in 1841.
His explorations there were often fraught and sometimes tragic – his wife died during one trip – but he opened up sections of the continent previously unknown to the outside world and was hailed as a hero by those back home, who read about his adventures in the newspapers and in one of his books, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa. Unfortunately, his travels took their toll and he became very ill, finally succumbing to malaria and dysentery in 1873. His loyal team carried his body hundreds of miles back to the coast where it was put on a ship for England, and buried at Westminster Abbey: you can see a recreation of this scene at the museum.
The car park is approximately 250 metres from the Centre. Closer access is available by arrangement. Wheelchair access is available to the ground and upper floors of the museum (via lift). The woodland garden is accessible for wheelchairs, although there are slopes which some users may have difficulty negotiating. An accessible toilet is available in the Africa pavilion. The shop is fully accessible. For hearing-impaired visitors, transcripts of the audio interpretation are available. Guidebook: French, German, Spanish. Explanatory text: Afrikaans, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swahili. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : David Livingstone Centre, 165 Station Road, Blantyre, Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley G72 9BY
Transport: Blantyre (from Glasgow Low Level) then 5 minutes. Bus Routes : 205 (from East Kilbride) 267 and 255 (from Glasgow) stop outside.
Opening Times : 2 April - 30 September, Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday, 11:00 to 16:00; Grounds open daily all year round
Tickets : Adults £6.50; Concessions £5.00
Tel. : 01698 710 641