Museums, Archives and Local Studies Centres of North Lanarkshire

From the 1820s the Coatbridge area was the ‘iron heart of Scotland’, producing most of the pig iron needed for the expanding industries of the country and exporting iron all over the world.

In the 1870s steel production began in Motherwell, and for over a century the area produced steel used in shipbuilding and engineering works on the Clyde and elsewhere.

We represent this heritage, as well as other significant industries such as brick and refractory manufacture. The collection also contains a comprehensive body of material relating to scotland’s engineering trades, including machine tools by all the major scottish makers, industrial locomotives and a collection of boiler making plant and associated archives, unique in Britain.
The majority of the industrial collections are displayed in Summerlee Museum, Coatbridge, which reopened in September 2008 after a £10 million pound refurbishment and redisplay. The site includes the remains of the Summerlee Iron Works, the only excavated first-generation hot-blast ironworks and now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The museums and heritage section of North Lanarkshire Council transferred into CultureNL an arms-length charitable trust on 1 April 2013. Scottish Charity Number SC043891.

CultureNL operates museums, archives and local studies centres as well as libraries, halls and arts development. In addition to Summerlee, it is responsible for a further five museum and heritage sites around the Council area in Motherwell, Shotts, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.
For further information please contact the Industrial History Curator, Justin Parkes at or visit the website

View our engineering history blog at