Heritage centre revealed as historic location

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Down Memory Lane

Well done to the readers who recognised the mystery historic building in last week’s Down Memory Lane as Campbeltown Heritage Centre.

We included a small clue when we said it was a building with a lot of history as the Big Kiln Street structure houses an extensive collection of artefacts relating to Kintyre’s heritage from around 1700 to the present day.

The social history collection, which includes sections on coal-mining, farming, fishing, the harbour, ship-building, whisky and Campbeltown at war, has been described as one of the finest on the west coast of Scotland.

Visitors can also research their own family history using online resources and local records and papers.

On occasion, the heritage centre marks special events and anniversaries by putting on specific exhibitions.

There is no entrance fee, with the heritage centre being supported by donations and volunteers.

The building itself has an interesting past.

The unusual alternating colour scheme of Campbeltown Heritage Centre's stonework led to it being known as the 'tartan kirk' when it was Lorne Street Church.
The unusual alternating colour scheme of Campbeltown Heritage Centre’s stonework led to it being known as the ‘tartan kirk’ when it was Lorne Street Church.

It was built in 1868 as Lorne Street Church, bringing together the congregations of the former Gaelic Free Church and English Free Church, which had both jointly stood on the site before.

Because of the unusual and striking alternating colour scheme of its stonework, which created a striped pattern, the church became known as the ‘tartan kirk’.

The church was closed in 1990, and since 1995 has served as home to Campbeltown Heritage Centre.

Currently closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the heritage centre is usually open from April to October each year.

Even while it remains closed, there is plenty to see outside. As well as the building’s own unique features, a very rare artefact is on display externally.

A minenwerfer, a German mine thrower or mortar, which was presented to the heritage centre in 2016, was conserved and redisplayed outside the building’s main entrance.

A very rare minenwerfer is on display outside the heritage centre. 
A very rare minenwerfer is on display outside the heritage centre.

It is also worth taking a look at the heritage centre’s logo which is displayed on an outer wall.

The mermaid which features on it was inspired by one on Campbeltown Cross, a late medieval carved cross which is one of the town’s most iconic monuments.

The mermaid on Campbeltown Heritage Centre's logo is inspired by one depicted on Campbeltown Cross.
The mermaid on Campbeltown Heritage Centre’s logo is inspired by one depicted on Campbeltown Cross.

The design on the logo – with long hair and scales – is based on detailed descriptions after reported sightings of a mermaid close to Feochaig, between Campbeltown and Southend.