Future looking bright for our Falkirk Steeple

Falkirk Local History Society will be moving into newly refurbished Steeple and using its rich past to good effect
Falkirk Local History Society will be moving into newly refurbished Steeple and using its rich past to good effect

A local history society will be hoping the past few centuries help to create a promising future for Falkirk Steeple.

Falkirk Local History Society (FLHS) is looking to cash in on the recently refurbished landmark’s status as an historic icon when it opens it up to the public as a local heritage space and visitor attraction.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive committee on Tuesday, members gave the society the green light to pursue the proposal, which was the preferred of three options.

FLHS, which was established 35 years ago, is a registered charity which has more than 200 members from across the area.

In its proposal to the council, the FLHS stated: “For many years the society has believed the steeple could play a major role in telling Falkirk’s story and provide a significant heritage attraction for both the local community and the many hundreds of visitors drawn to the town each year by its rich history.

“It is a major asset which could be exploited in the best sense of the word but only if it is presented in an appropriate and attractive way and this is the aim of this proposal.”

The Steeple refurbishment, which was completed in May, is part of the £3.6 of improvements in Falkirk Townscape Heritage Initiative.

According to the society, it is willing to take on the day to day management and operation of the Steeple and has identified over 20 members who would form a core group of volunteers.

They are all experienced people who have supported previous exhibitions and have a sound knowledge of Falkirk’s history.

The society stated the Steeple history centre could become a visitor attraction with displays and exhibits. The building, which is leased by Falkirk Community Trust, has three areas, the ground floor former box office “shop” area and two former prison cells which could be opened to the public.

A FLHS spokesman said: “We think the ‘shop’ and one of the cells should tell the story of the burgh of Falkirk from the earliest days by means of artefacts and illustrative material, while the other cell can be ‘dressed’ to show what life was like for a prisoner around 1830.

“A resource centre for history and heritage, the ground floor would provide a place where people could gather information on all aspects of the history of the wider Falkirk district, find out where to go and what to see, hear about forthcoming events, pick up leaflets, buy publications and other heritage related merchandise and generally engage with the story of the town.”

During Tuesday’s meeting Councillor Tom Coleman said: “This provides an opportunity to advertise local attractions and events and also gives access to a significant and historic building in the centre of the town.

“It’s the best way forward.”

Now the preferred option has been agreed upon, Falkirk Community Trust and FLHS will work together to produce a business plan to operate the proposed heritage centre and when that is drawn up it will go before the executive committee for their approval.