David Livingstone Birthplace

Media Release From The Scottish National Memorial To David Livingstone Trust

June 2015

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It was confirmed today that David Livingstone Birthplace has been successful in an initial ‘First Round Pass’ bid for support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

A total of £3,562,900 has been earmarked for David Livingstone Birthplace in Blantyre, with £334,000 provided immediately as ‘Stage 1’ funding.

The DL Trust, supported by its partners The National Trust for Scotland and South Lanarkshire Council, submitted the bid earlier this year in order to take forward a project to transform the Blantyre birthplace of one of history’s most famous Scots, Dr David Livingstone.

Ultimately, the multi-million pound project will see David Livingstone Birthplace, the birthplace in 1813 of the celebrated missionary and explorer, completely refurbished. Historic buildings and collections will be opened up to provide a much stronger and more relevant visitor journey with the David Livingstone story at the very the heart of the Museum.

The Museum's mission will be to conserve and interpret the internationally significant heritage, collections and legacy, to create a dynamic new destination for visitors of all ages, and to grow to be a focus for research delivering learning and public programmes to support community regeneration and international development.

The initial £334,000 allocated today by the HLF will be used as development funding in order help the David Livingstone Trust progress plans for the Centre to the point where a full grant application for the remainder of the funds can be made at a later stage.

The Chair of the David Livingstone Trust, Dr Isabel Bruce said:

“This is incredibly welcome news. David Livingstone was a remarkable man who lived his life of education, exploration and missionary endeavour to the full, and is warmly known by many Africans as a visionary because of his views on their potential for self-development and his respect for their human rights. In spite of the recent Bicentenary events to mark his birth, it is still fair to say that today he is better understood and remembered in Africa than he is in the land of his birth. This project gives us the opportunity to reawaken his story and provide the memorial he deserves in Scotland, while enhancing his international legacy. Through showcasing the remarkable life and heritage of David Livingstone we will tell a powerful story that sets Scotland in a global context and presents a compelling universal example of what each of us can achieve – and what we have to offer the world. There is a lot of hard work ahead, but the generous support we have received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as the help from the National Trust for Scotland, South Lanarkshire Council and others, allows us to move forward purposefully to realise our ambitions for the Centre.”

Speaking for South Lanarkshire Council, Provost Eileen Logan said:

“As South Lanarkshire’s Provost and a Trustee of the David Livingstone Trust I am doubly delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has handed us a tremendous boost to the long-term plans for this iconic internationally important facility. It is hard not to overemphasise just how important the Centre is. It is a Centre of excellence at a local, national and international level, preserving the local history of an area and a time in which David Livingstone’s character and international standing was cultivated. This funding will ensure that the birth-place of one the giant’s of exploration and missionary endeavour will continue to grow and promote the importance that a man from Blantyre did to shape the history of Africa and its people. The Centre is dedicated to preserving the historical influences of its namesake but with this funding the plans for the Centre will allow it to continue to look to the future and prepare and expand to provide the next generations of visitors who travel from all corners of the globe to explore the past."

Speaking for the Scotland Malawi Partnership, and from the international perspective, Rev Kenneth Ross said:

"Representing Scotland's many civic links with Malawi, which date back 156 years and in which more than 94,000 Scots are now involved, we are absolutely delighted to learn of this Heritage Lottery Fund support for the Centre. Since David Livingstone first arrived in what became Malawi our two nations have enjoyed a close relationship: a friendship defined and underpinned by mutual understanding and mutual respect, by solidarity and support. Today, an estimated 46% of Scots personally know someone with a link to Malawi. These contemporary civic links with Malawi are the living legacy of Dr Livingstone and for this reason Livingstone is warmly remembered in both our nations. Indeed, every past Malawian President has visited Scotland at least once, and while doing so every President has been sure to include a visit of David Livingstone Birthplace in Blantyre. It is an essential component on the itinerary of any friend visiting from Malawi, from primary school teacher to President! We are greatly excited by this funding announcement which will allow Scots and Malawians to understand and be a part of our shared history, and Livingstone's living legacy, for many more generations to come.”

The Centre is formed around a single-roomed house in Shuttle Row, Blantyre, which was once part of a complex of workers’ dwellings alongside a cotton factory on the banks of the Clyde. Livingstone was born here on 19 March 1813 and as a young boy worked 12-hour days in the factory. Later, he daily walked to and from Glasgow to undertake his medical studies.

Originally intending to go to China as a missionary, Livingstone was fired by the conviction that the African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of "legitimate trade" and the spread of Christianity, and embarked upon the travels that made him among the most famous of Victorians before his death in Africa in 1873.

The David Livingstone Trust was established in 1930 with the aim of preserving what was left of Livingstone’s birthplace and creating a fitting memorial to his life and work. Since 1999, the Centre has been managed by the National Trust for Scotland on the DL Trust’s behalf with support from South Lanarkshire Council.

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We are very grateful to our key funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government for their support in helping us deliver the Birthplace Project.

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Scottish Government
Historic Environment Scotland
Note: Please note that David Livingstone Birthplace (and the David Livingstone Trust) is no longer part of National Trust Scotland (NTS). NTS members will therefore no longer receive discounted/free entry to the Birthplace Museum.

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