Tag Archives: Kinneil House

Do a House call at Kinneil this Saturday


One of Falkirk district’s most historic buildings is opening its doors for free tours this weekend.

Kinneil House in Bo’ness – which boasts amazing renaissance wall paintings – will be open from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 19, 2016 (last admission 11.30 a.m.)

The open morning is to support the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, which is also taking place in the town this week.

Saturday’s event is one of eight open events at Kinneil in 2016. They have been organised by The Friends of Kinneil in association with Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust.

A Friends spokesperson said: “We’re looking forward to Saturday’s open morning. Hopefully lots of local people will come along. There’s no need to book tickets, just turn up – although children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Kinneil Museum will also be open from 10 a.m. to support the House event.”

The House is located within the historic Kinneil Estate, on the western edge of Bo’ness. More details are online at www.kinneil.org.uk/freein2016 

Leaflets are also available from local tourist offices and libraries.

Get on your Way to Kinneil for a world-class weekend

  • Open afternoons at Kinneil House on April 18 and 19
  • Events mark World Heritage Day and first anniversary of launch of John Muir Way
  • Costumed interpreter, ranger walks, and giveaways (see info).
  • Free admission to House and revamped Kinneil Museum
  • House open noon to 3 p.m. both days – museum open until 4 p.m.

maria-ford-at-kinneil-house-300dpi-finalHistoric Kinneil House in Bo’ness is opening its doors for free tours this weekend. Visitors will be able to see inside the A-listed mansion, meet a costumed interpreter and tour the surrounding parklands.

There will also be giveaways and a free draw for children’s books.

The afternoon events have been organised to mark World Heritage Day (April 18) and the first anniversary of the launch of the John Muir Way. The Roman Antonine Wall – a World Heritage Site – runs through the grounds of Kinneil, as does the 134-mile Way.

Kinneil House – which boasts impressive renaissance wall paintings – will be open from noon to 3 p.m. (last admission 2.30 p.m.) on Saturday and Sunday (April 18 and 19, 2015).

Volunteer guides from The Friends of Kinneil will tell visitors about the mansion’s amazing history, dating back to the 15th century.

The House was once home to the powerful Hamilton family. Historic Scotland Ranger Service will also be on hand to give tours around the surrounding estate, which boasts the ruins of a medieval church and a Roman fortlet. The revamped Kinneil Museum (next to the House) will also be open both days from 12.30 p.m.

The events have been organised by The Friends of Kinneil charity and Historic Scotland, with the support of Falkirk Community Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and Falkirk Council.

Maria Ford (pictured) from The Friends of Kinneil said: “We’re really looking forward to our open weekend. It celebrates Kinneil’s position as part of a World Heritage Site, as well as its location along the John Muir Way, which has attracted lots of new visitors to the area since its launch last year.

“As well as providing free House tours we’ll be giving away Antonine Wall stickers, pens, flags and leaflets – and also John Muir books in a free draw. I’d like to thank Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage for the giveways and their ongoing support. We’ll also have a costumed interpreter playing Anne, Duchess of Hamilton – one of the key figures associated with Kinneil House.

“Our open days are usually busy and I would encourage people to come along early and enjoy the free tours. We’ll be opening the House at noon on Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19, with the last admission at 2.30 p.m. on both days.

“Historic Scotland Rangers will also provide tours of the estate, and Kinneil Museum will be open both afternoons. It’s recently been refreshed with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and is well worth a visit. “Best of all – admission to the House and Museum – and those tours of the surrounding area are all free of charge.”

Amy Mack, Regional Tourism and Community Manager for Historic Scotland, said: “The Friends of Kinneil put a lot of time and effort into making the open days such a success. I’d like to thank the charity’s volunteers for all their hard work to make visits to Kinneil so memorable for all our guests.”



** The history of Kinneil dates back to 1323 when lands were granted by King Robert The Bruce to Walter Fitzgilbert of Hamildon, the head of the family which later produced the Dukes of Hamilton.

** The Hamiltons’ main seat was in west central Scotland but over the centuries Kinneil became their base in the east. In the 1400s they built a small tower house just outside what is now Bo’ness, in an easily defensible position overlooking a ravine.

** In the late 1400s or early 1500s the tower house was enlarged. In 1553 James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, built a palace to the north east of the tower house to its north east. In 1667, William, 3rd Duke of Hamilton and his wife Anne launched a major expansion of Kinneil House. Within a century, however, the Hamiltons had ceased to use Kinneil, and rented it out to tenants.

** Demolition work at Kinneil took place in the 1930s, but work was halted when rare renaissance wall paintings were discovered. ** The Friends of Kinneil was set up in 2006 to support and promote the development of Kinneil House and the surrounding estate and area, and to enhance and protect its heritage.

** Over the past few years it has worked with Historic Scotland to improve public access to Kinneil House, running a series of free open days. It also takes part in other activities within the estate. The Friends of Kinneil is a registered charity (Charity Registration Number: SC 038368). ** Kinneil Museum, next to Kinneil House, is open all year, normally from Mondays to Saturdays from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. (as well as at additional times to tie in with House open days). The museum is run by Falkirk Community Trust on behalf of Falkirk Council. Find out more at http://www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org.uk/heritage

** Kinneil House, Museum and Estate are on the western edge of Bo’ness in central Scotland, just off the A904 and A993 and are part of the Frontiers of The Roman Empire World Heritage Site. The site also features the ruins of a medieval church, a cottage used by inventor James Watt and evidence of a Roman fortlet, part of the Antonine Wall. The John Muir Way also runs through the site. Find out more at http://www.kinneil.org.uk and http://www.antoninewall.org and http://www.johnmuirway.org

** For satellite navigation devices, use the postcode EH51 0PR. See our map page. johnmuir-promo1.jpg

The Friends of Kinneil is a registered charity Charity Registration Number : SC038368 Visit us online at: www.kinneil.org.uk Email us: info@kinneil.org.uk

Friends remember James Watt

English: James Watt's signature.

Image via Wikipedia

MEMBERS of The Friends of Kinneil charity – and their guests – have celebrated the life of James Watt (born on January 19, 1736) at the group’s second annual James Watt Supper. Inspired by the traditional Burns’ celebrations, the Watt Supper remembers the legacy of the great Scottish inventor, who did some of his early work at Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness.

This year around 50 members of the Bo’ness charity packed into the St. Mary’s Church Hall in the town for the event, which was held on Friday, January 20. A gallery of photos from the event is available below. (Click each picture to see a larger version.)

The menu was inspired by food from the 18th century, and entertainment included poems and readings linked to Watt – as well as the premiere of a specially-written play about Watt’s time at Kinneil Estate.

Maria Ford from the charity said: “We’d like to thank everyone who attended our James Watt Supper. We had the first event last year to tie in with the 275th anniversary of Watt’s birth. It was such a success we thought we’d repeat the event this year – and it was bigger and even better than before.”

If you’d like to join The Friends of Kinneil and attend events like this, visit www.kinneil.org.uk/friends  to download a membership form.

Find out more about James Watt at Kinneil at www.kinneil.org.uk/jameswatt

New James Watt banknote launched

Chris Salmon of The Bank of England with the new £50 note. Copyright: The Bank of EnglandA NEW £50 note featuring inventor James Watt – who did early work at Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness – has gone into circulation.

The new Bank of England note portrays the Scottish engineer alongside business associate Matthew Boulton.

Watt went into partnership with Boulton in the late 18th century – after an earlier partnership with local industrialist Dr John Roebuck hit financial problems.

Dr. Roebuck, who lived at Kinneil House, had invested in Watt to improve the steam engine to help pump water out of local coal mines.

Sadly, Roebuck’s leased pits continued to flood, he went bankrupt and had to pass his share of Watt’s patent to Boulton, in lieu of a debt he couldn’t pay.

And so the partnership of Watt and Boulton was born.

James Watt worked in a small outhouse at Kinneil Estate. The cottage survives to this day. (For more see www.kinneil.org.uk/jameswatt)

Mervyn King said, the Governor of the Bank of England, said: “The Bank is delighted to acknowledge the invaluable contribution that Boulton and Watt made to the advancement of engineering by featuring them on the new £50 banknote.

“Boulton and Watt’s steam engines and their many other innovations were essential factors in the nation’s Industrial Revolution. The partnership of an innovator and an entrepreneur created exactly the kind of commercial success that we will need in this country as we rebalance our economy over the years ahead.”

The Boulton and Watt £50 banknote has a number of notable firsts.

The new note is the first time two portraits have appeared together on the back of a Bank of England banknote.

It is also the first note to be signed by Chris Salmon (pictured above), who was appointed as the Bank’s Executive Director for Banking Services and Chief Cashier in April 2011. He said: “The Boulton and Watt £50 banknote has new and enhanced security features which demonstrate the Bank’s commitment to its role of maintaining public confidence in the currency. The motion thread security feature is one of the new measures which should help members of the public to identify genuine £50 banknotes.”

Boulton and Watt – a brief background

Matthew Boulton and James Watt were responsible for accelerating the progress of manufacturing steam engines during the 18th and 19th century. Their inventions and improvements to this technology helped make a huge contribution to the progress of the Industrial Revolution.

James Watt (1736-1819) Engineer and Scientist

  • James Watt was the great improver, not the inventor, of the steam engine. While repairing a Newcomen steam engine he was struck by the considerable steam wastage inherent in its design and realised that it could be made more efficiently.
  • Progress in this development was slow until he entered into partnership with Matthew Boulton in 1775, with Boulton providing many suggestions for improving Watt’s engines.
  • Encouraged by Boulton, Watt developed an engine for the textile industry in 1774, patenting the invention in 1781.
  • Watt introduced the term ‘horsepower’ and the metric unit of power is named after him.
  • Watt was involved in several civil engineering projects during his life, the most significant of which was a survey and estimate in 1773 for a canal between Fort William and Inverness. The canal was constructed in the early 19th century and named the Caledonian Canal.

The new £50 note

The new £50 note - copyright of The Bank of England

The separate portraits of Boulton and Watt are developed from images held by the Bank of England (Bank of England copyright). The image of the Soho Manufactory, where Boulton produced small metalware and which became the first steam-powered mint and another, of the Whitbread steam engine designed by Boulton and Watt and installed by Samuel Whitbread in his London brewery, are worked from images owned by Birmingham City Council. Permission to use these two images was kindly given by the Council.

Find out more about James Watt and his connections with Kinneil Estate. Visit Kinneil Museum, usually open throughout the year from Monday to Saturday (12.30 p.m.  to 4 p.m.) Admission free. www.kinneil.org.uk/attractions

* This is the second banknote to have Kinneil connections. In 2009, the Clydesdale Bank issued its own £50 note featuring an illustration of the Kinneil Roman fortlet, as part of a series on Scottish World Heritage Sites. See our story here.

(Images and some text courtesy of – and copyright of  – the Bank of England.)

All set for 2011 Roman Week

THE FESTIVAL dubbed “nearly 2000 years in the making” kicks off next week . . . bringing a wealth of history – and lots of fun – to Falkirk district.

The Big Roman Week starts on Monday, September 19, 2011 promising fun days, walks, talks . . . and lots of Romans.

(Click here – www.kinneil.org.uk/bigromanweek – for full event listings.)

Community groups and public bodies from Bo’ness to Bonnybridge are taking part in the mini-festival. Organisers hope the variety of activities, many free of charge, will encourage more people to find out about local history and local museums.

The week-long event has been organised to mark the birthday of Emperor Antoninus Pius, the Roman leader who built the stone and turf Antonine Wall from Bo’ness right across Falkirk District to Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow around 142 AD. The Wall was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

The festival starts on Monday, September 19 (the Emperor’s birthday) with “Meet the Romans” events at Callendar House museum in Falkirk and Bridgeness Miners’ Welfare (near the end of the Antonine Wall) in Bo’ness.

There are also:

• walks along the Antonine Wall;
• talks from leading historians;
• displays on the area’s Roman heritage; and
• fun days with a Roman twist in Bo’ness and at the Falkirk Wheel.

Things come to a fun close with a showing of the musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at the Barony Theatre in Bo’ness on September 24 – and a history walk from the Falkirk Wheel to Roughcastle, by Bonnybridge, on Sunday, September 25.

Full details of all the events are now online at www.kinneil.org.uk/bigromanweek – leaflets are also available from local outlets.

The Festival is the brainchild of the charity The Friends of Kinneil.

Its chair, Maria Ford, said: “We hope the Big Roman Week will make people more aware of the heritage right on their doorsteps. We want to encourage locals and visitors to go to our fabulous museums – at Kinneil in Bo’ness and Callendar House in Falkirk – and explore the countryside around the Antonine Wall.

“The Week is also about having fun – whether it’s getting a chance to pose for a photo with the Antonine Guard re-enactment group, or coming along to the film show of ’A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum’.”

Falkirk Council’s tourism convener, Councillor Adrian Mahoney, has been helping to organise this year’s activities. He said: “The Council area has fantastic remants of the Antonine Wall. Hopefully the Big Roman Week will encourage more people to find out about this amazing structure – and how the local area became the Frontier of the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago.”

To find out more, visit www.kinneil.org.uk/bigromanweek

Remembering James Watt

Lives of Boulton and WattONE of Scotland’s greatest sons is being remembered this week – exactly 275 years after he was born.

The inventor James Watt was born in Greenock on January 19, 1736.

He went on to develop and improve the steam engine – the workhorse which powered the Industrial Revolution.

On Friday (Jan 21), the charity The Friends of Kinneil in Bo’ness – where Watt worked on early steam prototypes – will celebrate the inventor’s legacy with a “James Watt Supper”, an alternative to the traditional Burns Supper.

Maria Ford, the chair of The Friends, said: “Probably very few of us have a copy of Rabbie Burns’ Complete Works in our homes – but nearly everyone will have lightbulbs measured in Watts.

“It says a lot about Watt’s legacy that a unit of power was named after him. This amazing man deserves credit for his work – and in the week of his birthday we intend to do just that.”

The Friends promote the historic Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness – dominated by the imposing Kinneil House.

Watt was invited there by a local industrialist Dr. John Roebuck, who wanted him to improve the way water was pumped out of local mines. A cottage workshop – still standing in the estate – was constructed for Watt to use. The inventor worked at Kinneil for two spells in 1769 and 1770.

Sadly, the doctor – one of the founders of the famous Carron Iron Works in Falkirk – went bankrupt in 1773 and had to sell his share in Watt’s patent to one of his creditors, a Matthew Boulton of Birmingham.

And so a new partnership was born.

Watt moved to England and the improved steam engine – further developed with the help of Matthew Boutlon – revolutionised the use of steam power in Britain’s mills and factories.

Mrs Ford said: “Had John Roebuck not hit money problems, history could have been very different. But we’re still proud of the important part Kinneil played in the story of James Watt.

“On Friday, we’ll toast his life and works – and hear some immortal memories from a local historian, Ian Scott. Some of our members will also make their own contributions as we remember how James Watt changed the world.”

The Friends have organised typical 18th century music for private party – organised for charity members and invited guests in a local church hall.

The bill of fare will feature a modern take on Salamagundi, a popular dish of the time, followed by “Steam pudding” – the obvious choice for dessert.

A hot toddy will also be in offer to help toast the man behind the improved steam engine.

The charity has updated its website to give people more information on James Watt and his links with Bo’ness. Visit www.kinneil.org.uk/jameswatt