Summerlee opened on the 23rd march 1988 on the site of the Summerlee ironworks . the museum closed in 2006 and reopened in 2008 after a £10 million redevelopment - History of Summerlee Museum
Summerlee Museums's 22 Acres form one of Scotland's foremost industrial heritage visitor attractions. Graded 4-stars by the Visit Scotland and a registered museum it is situated around the site of the 19th Century Summerlee Ironworks and a restored section of a branch of the Monklands Canal.
There's lots to see including:
- Main Exhibition hall
- Tramway with Passenger Stops
- Coal Mine and Miners' Row
- Summerlee Branch of the Monklands Canal
- Children's Play Area
- Site of former Summerlee Ironworks
- Steam-driven Sawmill
- Vulcan Boat
Summerlee operates the only heritage electric tramway, offering rides on both modern and Edwardian open-topped trams.
And don't forget the mine tour! Summerlee has re-constructed a traditional 'Miners Row' which shows off the domestic conditions of the mining family from the 1840's to the 1980's. Just by the cottages is the Summerlee Coal Company pithead site, complete with recreated addit mine that shows off the cramped and damp conditions in which the miners worked..
Summerlee also has a separate exhibition gallery showing a programme of temporary exhibitions, tearoom and gift shop.
Admission to Summerlee is FREE.
Summerlee Museum have changed their opening times due to covid-19 -For more information click here - Visiting Summerlee Museum - Parking at and Travel to Summerlee Museum - Summerlee Museum Events and Exhibitions
Summerlee ironworks in the 1990's . Images from North Lanarkshire Council, Museums and Heritage Services - edited by STG
Main Exhibition Hall
The Main Hall was bult in the 1950's for Hydrocon Crane factory
in 1987 Summerlee converted the old crane factory bulding into the main hall. The original hall designed to look like small workshops using the terdinitional working methods. This remained the look untill 2006 . The main exhibition hall was completely stripped out and a ground-up refurbishment. The original hall, created in the late 1980s, provided a superb space for the museum's collection of industrial machinery, much of which could be seen in working condition. However, over 20 years, the displays and general visitor experience had become in need of a thorough upgrade, Summerlee reopend in 2008 with a re-designed exhibition hall
The main hall is split into
- Street & School life
- Community & Conflict
- War & Society
- Coal Mining
- Blast Furnace
- Natural Resources
- Pig Iron
- Canals & Railways
- Malleable Iron
History of the Summerlee Tramway
The Summerlee Tramway was planned in 1986/1987 with the first section of track (Main Entrance to Saw Mill) opened in March 1988 with the first passenger tram to run at Summerlee (Brussels 9062), The first scottish tram Summerlee acquired was Lanarkshire 53 in 1986 which was sent to Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway as part of a 1980’s Youth employment scheme, for restoration of the main body. The Body arrived at Summerlee in March 1988 for completion, the Second section of track opened in late 1988/early 1989. Summerlee’s second operating tram was Graz 225 arriving in May 1989, both 9062 and 225 were planned to fill a gap in the tram service until 53 was launched into service and for use in the wet weather.
The next tram to arrive was Glasgow 1017 in early 1992 and Oporto 150 in the summer of the same year (Acquired for truck and controllers for 53). Lanarkshire 53 was launched in to passenger service on the 1st April 1995 by Helen Liddell (MP For Monkland’s East). In December 1999 The Summerlee Transport Group bought Dusseldorf 392 for 1dm (about 35p) so that a wheelchair lift could be fitted allowing passengers with mobility problems to have a ride on Scotland’s only working heritage Tramway. On the 11th September 2001 Princess Anne visited Summerlee and was offered a go at driving 53, something that she was said to be excited to do. In the summer of 2002 Glasgow 1245 arrived from Blackpool (1245 in now under restoration). Glasgow 1017 was launched into Passenger service on the 1 December 2003.
On the 14th September 2004 trams 9062 and 392 suffered an attack of vandalism due to this and with some major defects on 9062 meant this tram was scrapped. By this point 225 was used for most of the passenger service until October 2006 when Summerlee closed for redevelopment. When Summerlee reopened in September 2008 Glasgow 1017 was the main service tram with Lanarkshire 53 used on events and sunny days. In 2011 Dusseldorf 392 entered passenger service and the restoration of Glasgow 1245 started. In 2014 Tram 1017 had a major truck strip-down and rebuild and re-entered passenger service the next year. Lanarkshire 53 was removed from passenger service to allow for repainting to mark her 25th Anniversary at Summerlee on the 1st April 2020 however this was cancelled due to the Covid-19 emergency.
Summerlee was established in 1836.
The ironworks were initially constructed with two blast furnaces, the blowing engine of which was consstruced at the Oakbank Foundry. in 1839 the works hade extended to four furnaces and by 1868 there were a total of eight furnaces in operation , making them one of the largest ironworks in Scotland.
The Ironworks closed in 1924 and at it's peak employed over 4,000 workers
When the Ironworks were demolished in 1938, there3 were reports that the explosions damaged windows in the nearby Coatbridge Sunnyside Station
For more information on the Summerlee Ironworks go to www.culturenlmuseums.co.uk/story/rediscovering-summerlee-iron-works/
Reports concerning Summerlee in the "Coatbridge and Airdrie Advertiser" - Saturday Nov 6 1937Report that the Summerlee Works were soon to be demolished. States that Mr Jas N Connell of the Phoenix and Clifton Ironworks, Main Street "had purchased the Summerlee Ironworks for demolishing." The works were operating until about 8 months before - "a large sum of money was spent on reconditioning the furnaces after the War, but in the interval the owners found that there was no possible prospects of re-lighting the furnaces on a profitable basis."
There had been hopes that the British Iron and Steel Federation had considered opening a section of the works - some officials of the Federation visited Summerlee and other ironworks - but the idea was finally rejected. Connell was also involved in dismantling other works. The Summerlee Iron and Steel Company was to continue being involved in the coal business.
click here to read an Interview with Mr Robert Sneddon, Blacksmith, Summerlee 1935-1960 opens in new tab as a pdf file
click here to view the map of the Summerlee Ironworks from the 1860's opens in new tab as a image file
click here to view the Plan of the 2000 Summerlee Ironworks excavations opens in new tab as a image file
click here to read the report on the summeerlee ironworks excavations (1985 - 1987) opens in new tab as a pdf file
click here to read the hot blast method of iron production opens in new tab as a pdf file
information and attchments on the Summerlee ironworks from
North Lanarkshire Council, Museums and Heritage Services and Summerlee Museum
Glasgow's Last Tram - Restoration of 1245
The museum acquired the Glasgow 1245 Coronation tram in 2002 from it’s stored location of Rigby Road, Blackpool. During its time at Summerlee until 2011 various schemes of preservation of the tram were considered which eventually concluded in a decision to restore it to working order. Once this decision was taken a plan of action and a list of identified priorities were agreed. The first priority was to undertake a thorough survey of the tram bodywork and underframe. The two bogie units were removed to the museums main workshop for full frame and motor overhaul. Whilst this was being undertaken the jacked-up body was cleaned and freed from rust and corroded metal and glass. Once the two bogies were completed the body was separated and the lower half transported to the workshop for further body and underframe restoration. Once the lower part of the body was completed the upper deck was transported to the museum workshop. And placed on top of the lower section. Once this was achieved a wide range of other restoration to the tram commenced. These included restoration of the upper deck, lighting and wiring, floor covering, seats, body, interior panels and both sets of stairways. In the lower deck the Drivers controls, resistor box and selector switches were all either restored or replaced. Unfortunately, all work on the tram ceased in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This will have an impact on the restoration work for the foreseeable future. More info on 1245 at
the B Flat Miners
Life’s the Pits…
A wife and mother’s story of her mining family in working class Lanarkshire. Take a journey through the tears and laughter as she reflects the sorrow and joy in her life. Singalong with Bingo Bella and crooner Tony Capaldi, the local ‘Ice Cream Man’, who’s a real Smoothie!
The human story of coal from early industrial mining days to its demise during the Thatcher years and its legacy on today’s world.
Written and performed by The B Flat Miners, three staff members of Scotland’s Industrial Museum in Coatbridge.
For more information or to book call Summerlee on 01236 856150
North Lanarkshire Council, Museums and Heritage Services
North Lanarkshire Council also opetate North Lanarkshire Heritage Center, Motherwell
Climb Thru Time – Look out for our exciting redevelopment of the six-level tower into a permanent exhibition space where you will be able to explore the history of the Motherwell area from pre-history to the present.
The tower – a distinctive feature of the local landscape – also offers visitors a viewing platform right up and down the Clyde Valley, over to the Campsie Fells and even to Ben Lomond, if the weather permits! Fully accessible lift. Free entry..
Please call 01698 274 590 for more information. North Lanarkshire Heritage Center Website