April 2021: Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life


Before proceeding to the destination, I couldn’t help noting that on the last day of April 2021, I was making my first train journey of the year – an astonishing abstinence from travel for someone like me. Such is the effect of lockdown!

The museum

The town of Coatbridge, in North Lanarkshire, does not enjoy a stellar reputation as a destination. It has been struggling for decades to find a new role, following the decline of industries such as mining and heavy engineering.

On a brighter note, Coatbridge is home to the Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, which deals with the industrial and social history of Lanarkshire and beyond. Opened in 1988 as Summerlee Heritage Park and making use of the site of the former Summerlee Iron Works (1836-1930), it underwent substantial redevelopment in the period 2006-2008. This was my first visit since the redevelopment. In its current guise, the museum incorporates a substantial display hall, a section of the Monkland Canal, a former mine, rows of miners’ cottages, an active vintage tramway and a good deal of attractive landscaping. The mine and tram shed were closed during this visit, due to the need to maintain social distancing.