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Kinneil Museum: we will listen to the people...

Published: 9 March 2006, 10:02
Kinneil Museum
At a specially called meeting of Bo'ness Community Council last night (Wed 8 March 2006) categorical assurances were made by local elected representatives that there would be no closure of Kinneil Museum if that were the will of local residents.

Recent speculation in Bo'ness Journal and on this site that there had been a decision made to close Kinneill Museum and transfer the majority of roman artifacts to Callendar House in Falkirk prompted the Bo'ness Community Council to hold a well-attended public meeting in the large meeting room of Bo'ness Library.

Falkirk Council representatives

Present to outline the Heritage Strategy and answer questions, from Falkirk Council, were Susan Selwyn, Head of Culture and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Robert Speirs, Heritage Convener and local Councillors, John Constable and Andrew Graham.

Local history perspective

Ian Scott from Falkirk Local History Society was also invited to give an appreciation of the history of Kinneil, the estate and its significance both locally, nationally and internationally.

Community Council

Bill Bruce, Chairman of Bo'ness Community Council opened the meeting by giving an outline of the remit & statutory responsibilities of Community Councils in representing the feelings and views of local community to local government and other bodies.

Heritage strategy

He introduced Ms Selwyn who outlined the heritage strategy and empahsised that full consultation was proposed before any final 'decision' would be taken and that many factors had to be taken into consideration. Her presentation followed much of what she had covered in her Journal letter of 3 March.

Tourism, heritage & economic prosperity

Councillor Spiers outlined in general terms the aspirations of the Heritage Committee stressing the importance of tourism and heritage in the long term economic prosperity of all of the Falkirk Area.

Again he emphasised the the consultative process which would be undertaken particularly in relation to Kinneil Museum in light of achieving World Heritage status.

'Peddling misinformation'

Councillor Constable started by attacking this site and others with 'peddling misinformation' by giving the impression that any decision had been made to close Kinneil Museum.

This was despite his comments, highlighted by Adrian Mahoney, Community Councillor later during the meeting, and reported in Bo'ness Journal of 17 February, "... that closure of Kinneil Museum was regrettable".

He took particular time to emphasise that there would be no decisions made about closure or any other issue relating to Kinneil Museum without the full and proper consultation with all the residents of Bo'ness.

Kinneil Museum would not close...

Councillor Constable stated that if the overwhelming view of the people of Bo'ness was to keep Kinneil Museum open then that is what would happen.

Impassioned call for vision

Ian Scott from Falkirk Local History Society then gave an outline of Kinneil Estate and its history dating back 2000 years to the Roman occupation.

Industrial heritage

He outlined its more recent occupation by the Duke's of Hamilton, its links with the industrial heritage of not only Scotland but of the UK through its connections with James Watt and his cottage in the grounds close to Kinneil House.

Mining & philosophical links

Dugald StewartWith coal mining and Dr John Roebuck and as the home of one of Scotland’s most famous philosophers Dugald Stewart who retired to Kinneil House, Bo’ ness in 1809, at the invitation of his friend the Duke of Hamilton.

New vision by Falkirk Council

He concluded, to rousing applause, by calling on Falkirk Council to keep Kinneil Antonine Wall plaqueMuseum open and focus on its Roman importance in light of achieving World Heritage status for Antonine Wall by tearing up the Consultative Draft - Heritage Strategy for the Falkirk Council Area 2006-11 and starting again with some real vision for the future development of Kinneil and its Museum.

Comments from the floor

The meeting was opened up to the floor with first Ken Wright speaking and webmaster, Bo'ness Web Site, Rob Willox thanking Ian Scott for giving a presentation perfectly explaining why Kinneil Museum should be retained.

All publically available information

Mr Willox pointed out to Councillor Constable that all the information that had been presented on the web site had been taken from publically available documents and if Councillor Constable was able to provide a transcript of his statement it also would be given equal coverage.

(Councillor Constable indicated he had no transcript but a letter covering the points could be made available.) [Ed. See letter received 11/03/06 and link below.]

Overwhelming support for retention of museum

All the contributions from the floor were against any closure plans and focused on the importance of Kinneil and the Museum in terms of its history, as an educational resource, heritage & tourism and the economic value of the the Antonine Wall and the World Heritage status bid.

There was a feeling that closure or any proposals for closure of the Kinneil Museum would send the wrong message and could seriously damage the prospect of achieving World Heritage status.

Falkirk Council's intentions

On a number of occasions, when doubts were expressed about Falkirk Council intentions for Kinneil Museum, Councillor Constable re-iterated his statement that no decision would be made without agreement of the Bo'ness public.

Public show of hands

On a show of hands regarding closure of Kinneil Museum, requested by Adrian Mahoney, Community Councillor, there was unanimous and 100% support against any closure plans.

Related items

* Content Letter received 11/03/06 (added 11/03/06)

Dear Mr. Willox,


I refer to the recent Bo'ness Community Council meeting during which it was officially confirmed that a statement that you published on your website falsely suggesting that Falkirk Council proposed transferring the majority of Kinneil Museum exhibits to Falkirk were untrue.

At that meeting you undertook to publish my clear statement (made in my capacity as Depute Leader of Falkirk Council) that the Bo'ness public would decide whether the Kinneil Museum was closed or not and if the Bo'ness public wished it to remain open then it would. This letter confirms that statement.

I hope therefore that you will honour your undertaking and that you will do so without any distorting editorial comment.

It would also be in the interests of local citizens of this town were you to publish a retraction of the untruths that you put in your website originally on this subject.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor : Borrowstoun Ward.

[* Ed. The Bo'ness website is exactly that and not 'my' site as suggested. Its aims are to both promote Bo'ness and reflect the views and opinions of visitors through the SoapBox section and to present information & issues that effect the Town and its residents.

It is not considered a retraction is necessary or required as original report was based on information published in Bo'ness Journal of 17/02/06 which has not itself been retracted (see link below, readers can make the comparison themselves).]

Letter from J Constable (pdf, 500k)

Bo'ness Journal Story (Frid 10/03/06)

Community Council special meeting

Kinneil Museum Closure

Original Journal Closure Story (Frid 17/02/06)

Heritage Strategy Consultative Draft (pdf, 61k)

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