Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, formerly known as Summerlee Heritage Park, is an industrial museum in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was built on the site of the Victorian Summerlee Iron Works and incorporated the main workshop of the former Hydrocon Crane factory. The museum is managed by CultureNL Ltd. It temporarily closed in 2006, but reopened on 26 September 2008 following a £10m refurbishment. The former main hall was completely redesigned by North Lanarkshire Council's in-house Design Team and now includes a stainless steel café pod and futuristic viewing pavilion. The museum aims to show Lanarkshire's contribution to engineering, and incorporates interactive displays and a temporary exhibition space. The museum also incorporates several railway steam locomotives, preserved carriages from a 1960s era Glasgow Class 311 and has a short working tram line.
The museum contains the main exhibition hall, the Scheduled Ancient Monument of the remains of Summerlee iron works, the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Gartsherrie cut of Monkland Canal and Howe's basin, the railway, the sawmill and Foster engine, the miners' row and gardens, the Summerlee Sweetie Shop, the exhibition of Vulcan: Scotland's first iron boat contained within a replica of the original barge, the tramway and depot, the replica mine and surface buildings and 22 acres of space including an award-winning play area.
The Summerlee Transport Group (STG) was formed in 1988, in order to support the maintenance and operation of the tramway. The original tramway used to terminate only 300 yards from the entrance at the timber shed, before the extension of the Gartsherrie Branch canal bridge and thence towards the Miners' Cottages. As continued tradition, the cars still halt at the timber shed before continuing over the bridge and around the bend. The tramway was the first operational tramway in Scotland for twenty-six years following the closure of the Glasgow Corporation Tramway in 1962, and continued to be the only tramway in Scotland for another twenty-six until Edinburgh reopened its tramway in 2014, save from the Glasgow Garden Festival Tramway, which opened six weeks after the Summerlee Line. Whilst the first two operational trams at Summerlee were continental cars, it has always been the intention to use traditional British cars, preferably with local connections, which is now being realized.
Summerlee was formerly one of Scotland's most important ironworks and the remains of its blast furnaces and other structures can be seen from the view pod and parapet at the north-east side of the main exhibition hall. Opened in 1836, it used the newly discovered 'hot blast' process. This was a process, patented by James Beaumont Neilson (the younger brother of Summerlee's founder John Neilson), that blew the hot gases of the production process through the furnaces. This resulted in much more iron being produced for the same amount of coal. This made the smelting process much more efficient and led to Coatbridge becoming known as the 'Iron Burgh' of Scotland by the 1850s. However, the rise of the steel industry in the later part of the 19th Century saw iron's decline. Although heavy industry continued in Coatbridge for many years, strikes and economic depression in the 1920s saw Summerlee's furnaces go out for the last time in 1926. In the late 1930s, the site was demolished and the remains of the ironworks were covered over. Post-war, light engineering companies operated on the site, the last being the Hydrocon Crane Company, whose engineering shed forms today's main exhibition hall - complete with overhead cranes.
Explore the exhibition hall; home to an amazing array of social history, working machinery and interactive displays, the exhibition hall is a fascinating, hands-on glimpse into bygone days. Don’t miss their outdoor engineering pavilion just north of the main hall! You can visit the Vulcan canal barge. All aboard! The Vulcan is a replica of the world’s very first iron-hulled vessel, reflecting the skill of her builders whose techniques made this pioneering boat possible. Take a ride on the tram. No trip to Summerlee is complete without a ride on their Edwardian tram! Get your tickets at the gift shop, sit back and enjoy the ride. Experience the mine tour and miners’ row. Take a guided tour down the mine shaft and experience the dark, cramped and damp conditions in which miners used to work. Above ground, visit the miner’s row and see how mining families lived, from the basic conditions of the 1840s to the comforts of the 1980s. Stop off at their traditional sweetie shop for a bar of tablet or a poke of soor plooms!
The car park surface is block paving. There is a dropped kerb between the car park and the venue. The dropped kerb does not have tactile paving. The patron does not have to cross a road. There is level access into the venue. The main doors open automatically (away from you). The doors are double width. The lighting levels are bright. There is a hearing assistance system available only on request. There is a lift for public use, without Braille signage. The lift is located to the right as you enter the exhibition hall. There is a tram available at the front of the venue with shelter. There is level access to the tram shelter. There is a platform lift available on the tram. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, Heritage Way, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire ML5 1QD
Transport: Coatbridge Sunnyside (ScotRail) then 7 minutes. Bus Routes : 3, 132 and 245 stop closeby
Opening Times : Daily, November to March 10:00 to 16:00; April to October 10:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Free
Tel : 01236 638 460