Picture Gallery: Open day at Kinneil House, Bo’ness

Fun day...for Grayson Brown (4) and Lea Burns (8) who managed to acquire the interpreter's props for an impromptu photo call! (Pic: Jamie Forbes)
Fun day...for Grayson Brown (4) and Lea Burns (8) who managed to acquire the interpreter's props for an impromptu photo call! (Pic: Jamie Forbes)

Anyone who thinks Kinneil House in Bo’ness is just a treasure of local importance might now have cause to think again.

For the historic house and estate managed a mention in the New York Times this week!

Under the banner, a year of cultural celebrations in Europe, in the paper’s travel section, Kinneil House was highlighted as taking part in the Festival of Museums later this month.

It has certainly tickled the Friends of Kinneil, who were delighted to see the estate receive such recognition.

Trustee Adrian Mahoney said: “I don’t know whether we’re expecting a huge influx of New Yorkers later this month but it was nice to see Kinneil recognised.

“We’ve had people in the past say that Kinneil is only of local importance – I think the New York Times article helps to prove otherwise!

“It was great publicity for both Kinneil and the local area.

“We were all delighted with the mention and will be happy to welcome friends from across the pond, as well as visitors from closer to home, to our Festival of Museums events later this month.”

The article can be seen in full at www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/travel/europe-festivals.html.

For those who missed out on the house open day on April 22, timed to coincide with John Muir’s birthday, there’s another chance to tour the house and estate during two free Festival of Museums events this month.

The first will be held on Friday, May 18. Kinneil Museum will be open from 6pm to 9pm, with activities and goodie bags for all the family. The house will also be open that night from 6pm to 7.30pm (last admission 7pm).

Later that same night, the museum will be the starting point for a nature walk around the estate, ending – hopefully – with a display from the bats which live in the house and who usually make an appearance around dusk.

The bat walk, which will be led by Lesley Sweeney of Falkirk Council’s Ranger service, will leave the museum around 8.30pm.

It’s a great event for wee ones to see and hear the nocturnal creatures.

Adrian explained: “All the children are given bat detectors which gives them a chance to hear the noises the bats make, while out looking for their tea.

“One wee boy who came along last year said it was the best event he’d been to!”

The second Festival of Museums event will take place at Kinneil on Sunday, May 20.

Kinneil House and Museum will be open from noon to 4pm with guided tours of the House by the Friends group leaving from Kinneil Museum every 15 minutes up until the last tour, 30 minutes before closing time.

Rangers from Historic Environment Scotland will also lead daytime tours around the estate.

The hour-long estate walks will set off at 12.30pm and 2pm.

There’s no need to pre-book – just turn up on the day and enjoy.

But it’s worth noting that spaces on house tours can be limited at peak times due to space restrictions within the historic building.

Adrian said: “There was a great respone to our last open day on April 22 and we were very busy throughout.

“At the final count, I think we had more than 360 visitors over the four hour period, which was brilliant.

“We are limited to how many people we can have in the building at any one time though – it’s around 50.

“So, at times, people were having to queue for tours.

“We’re a victim of our own success, in a way, which is a nice position to be in – it’s why we started timed tours this year.

“However, my advice for anyone who wants to go on a house tour is to come along earlier in the day.

“We do try to get people onto tours as quickly as possible but we do get busy at peak times and don’t want to disappoint anyone.”

At last month’s open day, a Historic Environment Scotland costumed interpreter roamed the grounds, telling visitors all about James Watt.

The Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist improved on Thomas Newcomen’s 1712 steam engine with his Watt steam engine in 1781.

It is reputed he worked on the steam engine while living on a cottage in the grounds of Kinneil Estate, the ruins of which remain to this day.

Adrian added: “He was a big hit with visitors and was able to show them the cottage and tell them all about Watt’s time here.”

This year’s Festival of Museums will take place from Friday, May 18, to Sunday, May 20, featuring over 100 events at cultural attractionsin Scotland.

For a full programme, visit the website at www.festivalofmuseums.com.