About the Heritage Centre
Campbeltown Heritage Centre is a museum and heritage centre which is the main repository for social history for the Kintyre Peninsula from around 1700 to the present day.
The Heritage Centre Buildings
The centre stands on the site of the Gaelic Free Church. Built in 1868, it was believed to have come as a numbered kit by sea from Beauvais in France.
Because of the striking alternating colour scheme of its stonework, it became known as the ‘Tartan Kirk”. The Church closed in 1990 when the congregation amalgamated with the Lowland Church in Longrow.
In 1995, the Church was transformed into the Heritage Centre, reflecting the wealth of local history and becoming a haven of music and drama. The building retains an attractive “rose” window in the West gable.
The new Campbeltown bunkhouse, opened in April 2012, is housed in the newly refurbished Old Schoolhouse, a Grade B listed building beside the Heritage Centre.
Its location offers easy access to the facilities of Campbeltown, shops, restaurants, swimming pool, gym, as well as the iconic cinema. A passenger and cycle ferry runs to Northern Ireland and Ayrshire while car ferries service the routes to the local islands of Arran, Gigha, Islay and Jura.
The Heritage Centre Museum
The trustees established a museum that highlighted the different aspects of Campbeltown’s success with the help of grants and contributions from the local community. At one time, Campbeltown had the highest per capita income of any town in Scotland.
Its success was based on the herring fishing industry, coal, shipbuilding, agriculture, and of course – whisky! Many local people have donated valuable exhibits, and the museum now holds one of the finest collections in the West of Scotland.
The Kintyre Amenity Trust (KAT) was formed in 1998 to lease the recently redundant Lorne Street Church from the Church of Scotland and open a Heritage Centre to complement the existing Campbeltown Museum whose exhibits focused on archaeology and natural history. With the help of grants and contributions from the local community, the trustees established a museum that highlighted the different aspects of Campbeltown’s success. At one time, Campbeltown had the highest per capita income for any town in Scotland. Its success was based on the herring fishing industry, coal, shipping, agriculture, and of course – whisky! Many local people have donated valuable exhibits, and the museum now holds one of the finest collections in the West of Scotland.
In 2012, the trust renovated the old Free Church School, converting it into a sixteen bed hostel. As a result, the museum now benefits from a modest revenue stream to support its activities.
In 2016 KAT celebrated The Year of Scottish Architecture with a display of pictures of key Campbeltown buildings. Taken by the MacGrory Brothers, pioneer photographers from the early twentieth century, they showed Campbeltown life from around one hundred years ago.
Home of the rare Minenwerfer
In 2016, a very rare Minenwerfer (German mine thrower or mortar) a first World War trophy presented to Campbeltown which had sacrificed so many in that war was donated to KAT and was conserved and redisplayed in the car park.
The new Campbeltown bunkhouse, known as Campbeltown Backpackers, opened in April 2012, is housed in the refurbished Old Schoolhouse, a Grade B listed building. The school, built in 1851 by the then new Free Church of Scotland counts many significant Campbeltonians amongst its alumni.