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“Don't be fouled by the promotional material”

The David Livingstone Centre
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Blantyre
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: There are storeys of stories about David Livingstone, the famous Scottish explorer and missionary, in this birthplace museum of his life and work. Housed in Shuttle Row, a tenement which the Livingstones shared with 23 other families, this historic attraction is packed with items relating to his explorations in Africa. These range from letters and navigation equipment to his gruesome medical kit and hippo and lion skulls! It also gives a fascinating insight into the living and working conditions of 19th-century Scotland.We have children's quizzes and regular events to help keep little ones entertained, along with a sandy playpark and 20 acres of parkland and woodland. Located on the banks of the River Clyde, we are the starting point for some beautiful walks.Our tearoom is run by Motherwell College, providing lunches every weekday from 11am-2pm. Unfortunately the tearoom is not open on weekends.
Level 5 Contributor
89 reviews
62 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
“Don't be fouled by the promotional material”
Reviewed May 25, 2013

After visiting this site, the feeling is one of disappointment as the promotional material is excessively worded.

Sadly (as an NTS member), can only second earlier reviews about the tired feel of the exhibition and the whole site overall.

The exhibition of artefacts and dioramas needs a complete repurposing to bring into the 21st century and make it a genuinely fascinating and inspiring experience. At the moment, a long dark gallery with poetic and crafty but still 'tableaux' on one side, and the accumulation of busy showcases and panels on the other side make for a perfect example of what the place should not look like anymore.

The good thing is that there is SO much potential with the themes associated with Livingstone, and the artefacts already on display ! although the colonial missionary environment of the story might make it a hard sale to 21-century post-modern visitors.

During the visit, vibrant memories of the Natural History Museum's Darwin exhibition resurfaced as this was very inspiring, and both characters were contemporaries and are involved in contentious issues.

Although Scotland and the world are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Livngstone's birth, the site itself offers to keen visitors a poor sight and could do with some well-deserved Heritage Lottery Fund awarded after this celebration. Can only look forward to the future!

Visited May 2013
Thank artvisits
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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145 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Class Visit”
Reviewed May 21, 2013

I recently visited the centre with 25 children from my class and two other adults. By the time we left we were all very much impressed by the centre and it's staff. We split into two groups and each group had a guide who took us through the exhibition. Although it may not be high tech, this was very much compensated for by the information which the guides provided. Following the tour the children enjoyed having their picnic lunch (indoors due to weather). They were then able to have a run around and had great fun playing in the play area. The day was rounded off by James oe Jimmy as he introduced himself to the children, showing them African atrefacts, including instruments. The pupils enjoyed playing the instruments and learning the African song, which they performed to their music teacher the following week. So we would like to say a big thank you to Kate James for their excellent information.
If you are going to visit the centre then perhaps you should be prepared to be informed rather than entertained.

Visited May 2013
Thank Josephine M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stavanger, Norway
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“I loved this place”
Reviewed May 17, 2013

If you have any interest of colonial history or of David Livingstone at all, you have to visit this place. I've been to it's opposite in Livingstone, Zambia, and being able to visit this place makes the round complete. The park is lovely, the old buildings where he lived is beautiful, the "jungle walk" is fun, and the only small negative was a very 70-ies coffee shop with a dissapointing bookstore. The place is situated in cosy Blantyre, and you should just go there.

Visited July 2012
Thank geirsan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“A Great Venue for a Family Trip”
Reviewed May 11, 2013

The exhibition was really great giving an insight into the life of David Livingstone, covering his early family life, family connections and upbringing and David Livingstone's Christian Faith.

Maps, drawings, letters and equipment were all on display as well as lit tableau depicting his life. Not of these lit tableaux seemed to work.

There was a lot of things for children to look at and touch.

Towards the end, an interesting exhibition and film on how hand written text in faded temporary inks on newspaper had been salvaged so that more records from David Livingstone could be shown.

There was a lift for disabled people.

Outside was an Explorers Garden with hidding places, a wobbly bridge over a stream. Surfaces are uneven with steps.

At the visitor centre is a shop, toilets, lecture theatre, play activity room which sells secondhand books and a cafe with limited opening hours. 11 am - 2 pm This was a pity as it would have been good to have had a cup of tea after our visit and before our return home to Aberdeen about 4 pm.

We were there for about 3 hours. you could easily be there about a further hour.

The toilets were clean. Users are asked to switch off lights after use.

Staff were friendly and helpfull.

Visited May 2013
1 Thank RangerRo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
69 reviews
40 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“Good day out”
Reviewed April 13, 2013 via mobile

As a NTS card holder I decided to try out the centre with my childminding kids, aged 12, 10, 4 and 1 years old. The staff were very good and very helpful. The centre itself is maybe a little run down, not as good as the other national trust properties. The children enjoyed themselves and the older ones did the quiz and the younger on looked for the lions. The play park was not what I expected from reading the previous reviews, it was more suited to the older children with no swings for the toddlers. Again the staff were great letting us sit inside to eat our packed lunches, we never tried the cafe so can't comment on that.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Kazzachick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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