Falkirk Council announced in February controversial proposals
Low visitor numbers cited
close the museum and split its collection between Callendar House
Falkirk and the Hippodrome, an old cinema being refurbished in the
centre of Bo'ness.
The Council cited low visitor numbers for Kinneil. But local people
and heritage groups have attacked the closure plans, saying the
museum and surrounding estate have suffered from a lack of advertising
and promotion by the Council.
They also argue the museum has a vital role - telling the rich
history of Kinneil Estate, which lies at the eastern end of the
Friends of Kinneil
the most northerly frontier of the Roman empire.
Adrian Mahoney, the chairman of the Friends of Kinneil - the group
which organised the petition - said: "Kinneil Estate has a
wealth of historic buildings and artefacts which have a national
"The very name Kinneil means 'Wall's End' and the Antonine
Wall - bidding for World Heritage Site status - runs through the
Gifted by King Robert the Bruce
site also includes an excavated Roman fortlet, the ruins of a medieval
church, and the site of a medieval village.
"The land at Kinneil was gifted by King Robert
the Bruce to the Hamilton family, and it was at Kinneil where the
Dukes of Hamilton built the imposing Kinneil House, which stands
to this day.
James Watt Cottage
"In its shadow is a cottage used by inventor James Watt to
develop the steam engine, which, in turn, powered the industrial
"The museum tells the important story of all these things.
To close Kinneil Museum and move its collection, would, in our view,
"We think that properly publicising the site - and refreshing
the displays within the museum - is the way forward. For instance,
no leaflets have produced to advertise Kinneil for several years.
We think this is unacceptable.
"I hope the petition and the public outcry from local people
will convince the Council to have a change of heart. Already two
stormy public meetings have given the council a very clear message:
that local people don't want Kinneil Museum to close."
Centralise Roman exhibition at Callendar
Schoolchildren from across Scotland visit the estate to learn about
the Roman occupation of the country. As part of the shake-up, the
Council is understood to be considering a proposal to centralise
this work to its main museum, Callendar House in Falkirk. It also
plans to centralise its main Roman exhibition for the district at
Campaigners say this would further erode visitor numbers and leave
Kinneil Museum, housed in a 17th century former stable block, with
an uncertain future.
Said Mr Mahoney: "The council claimed that moving Roman interpretation
from Kinneil Museum to Callendar House would establish a closer
link to the Antonine Wall . yet the line of the wall is just a few
feet from the door of Kinneil Museum. Kinneil also boasts the remains
of a Roman fortlet. There is no fort or fortlet to be seen at Callendar
House. And, most crucially, the eastern end of the Antonine Wall
is in Bo'ness - not Falkirk."
Consultation excercise ends June 30
The proposals have been the subject of a consultation exercise,
which ends next Friday (June 30). Councillor Robert Spears, the
council's convener of environment and heritage committee, said:
"We recognise that there is great public feeling about the
future of Kinneil Museum and we want to hear as many opinions as
possible on its future. We also want to find out what people think
of our plans for the Hippodrome and to give the local community
a chance to be involved in its development."
Exciting story of Kinneil Estate
However, Jack Sanderson, the council's former cultural services
manager, wrote to the local paper, telling it: "The exciting
story of Kinneil Estate can only be experienced on site and the
museum is a vital starting point."
He added: "Visitor figures for the museum are low due to severely
reduced opening hours. I believe if proper marketing, signage and
user-friendly opening hours could be put in place, visitor figures
would be improved."
The Friends' petition was being delivered to the Council's community
services' director, Maureen Campbell, today (Wednesday, June 21).
The Council will go into recess at the end of the consultation
It is expected that a final decision will be made in the