Clark Contracts begins £6.1m transformation of David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre

Construction work is underway on the much anticipated £6.1 million Birthplace Project to transform The David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre into a world-class visitor attraction.

Clark Contracts has been appointed as the main contractor on the multi-million pound operation to restore and renovate the 11-hectare Station Road site which includes the iconic Shuttle Row mill-workers’ tenement where the legendary explorer and missionary was born and raised.

The Birthplace Project is jointly funded by The National Lottery through The Heritage Lottery Fund (£4.1m), the Scottish Government (£1.3m) and Historic Environment Scotland (£575,000).

The funding will see David Livingstone’s birthplace redeveloped to provide a vibrant new museum, setting Scotland in a global context and celebrating the inspirational story of how a poor millworker became one of the most popular British heroes of the Victorian era and a hero of some Sub Saharan African countries today.

The project will include the renewal of the historic buildings, a newly interpreted exhibition which will showcase artefacts from the Trust’s collection of 3000 objects and an upgrade of visitor facilities such as the café and shop.

Dr Isabel Bruce, chair of The David Livingstone Trust, said: “The Trust welcomes the appointment of Clark Contracts as main contractor and looks forward to work progressing swiftly on this important project to re-ignite the powerful story of David Livingstone for new generations and further strengthen the worldwide connections that Livingstone, his principles and legacy have inspired locally and globally.

“Once complete, the Centre will become a key resource for learning about his heritage and his far-reaching impact in science, health, exploration, faith and humanitarian endeavour.

“Visitors will travel from all corners of the globe to explore his story and we believe it will ensure that the impact of David Livingstone’s living legacy continues to be felt locally, nationally and internationally for future generations.”

Michael Scanlan, director, Clark Contracts, said: “Clark Contracts is delighted to be involved in this landmark project. We have a long track record on heritage and cultural projects and the Birthplace Project provides a great opportunity to continue our work in this sector.”

David Kirkwood, project director, David Livingstone Trust, added: “It’s extremely exciting to see the David Livingstone Birthplace Project take shape and we hope everyone will bear with us while we create a better and more enjoyable experience for all our visitors. During the construction phase we are working closely with the community to limit any disruption to our neighbours.

“Access to the buildings at the David Livingstone Centre will be restricted, however visitors will be able to continue to use the wider site for walks and leisure activities. An access map will be available soon on the David Livingstone Trust’s website and social media channels.”

Minister for Europe, migration and international development, Ben Macpherson, said: “David Livingstone is an iconic figure to many people in Scotland, in Africa and across the world. Much of his inspirational work was underpinned by the principles of global humanitarianism and solidarity.

“That is why the Scottish Government has aided the transformation of the historic building and surrounding grounds that bear his name, with £1.375m funding. Once refurbished, the David Livingstone Centre will be a fitting venue to celebrate the important legacy of one of Scotland’s national heroes.”

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