David Livingstone Centre Visitor Guide

Museum building at the David Livingstone Centre
Museum building at the David Livingstone Centre

David Livingstone Centre Refurbishment Work

The main building at the David Livingstone Memorial closed on 30th September 2015 for extensive renovation and refurbishment work. It is not expected to reopen until 2018. There will, however, still be exhibitions and functions taking place in the extensive grounds during this time and checks should be made for current events prior to arranging a visit.

When Henry Morton Stanley uttered those immortal words, "Dr Livingstone, I presume?" no one could surely have imagined the extent to which they would be recorded for posterity. The man whom he was addressing in darkest, deepest Africa was the Scottish missionary and explorer, Dr David Livingstone, who is now immortalised by the David Livingstone Centre in his hometown of Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, just outside Glasgow.

The museum is comprised of the building where Livingstone was raised with his siblings in a single room, a building which at that time was home to more than twenty other families. There is also a modern, dedicated visitor centre, cafe/restaurant, conference facilites and extensive grounds to explore.

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Portrait of Dr David Livingstone as seen in the David Livingstone Centre Museum
Portrait of Dr David Livingstone as seen in the David Livingstone Centre Museum

Please note that this page is primarily about the David Livingstone Centre, rather than the life and experiences of Dr David Livingstone, the man. If it is information on David Livingstone and his life you are seeking, the links below are provided specifically for your convenience. Then again, why not read on a little bit first and see the one time home of the great man for real...?

How to Get to the David Livingstone Centre

Blantyre train station is just a few minutes' walk from the David Livingstone Centre
Blantyre train station is just a few minutes' walk from the David Livingstone Centre

The David Livingstone Centre is easily accessible by road and by rail. It is a few minutes' walk from Blantyre Train Station, to which trains run from Glasgow Central and Glasgow Argyle Street up to four times an hour at peak times. The journey time is approximately twenty minutes. There are also train services from many other Lanarkshire towns. Buses operate from Glasgow Buchanan Street Bus Station and from around Lanarkshire. The Centre is only a few minutes by car from Junction 5 of the M74 motorway.

show route and directions
A markerDavid Livingstone Centre -
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B markerBlantyre Train Station -
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David Livingstone Centre Grounds and Parkland

Entering the grounds of the David Livingstone Centre
Entering the grounds of the David Livingstone Centre

One of the first sights that will greet you when you enter the grounds of the David Livingstone Centre is the superb statue/representation of David Livingstone being attacked by a lion in Africa in 1844. He later claimed that the lion shook him, "As a terrier does a rat," and he was not only scarred but slightly disabled by the attack for the remainder of his life.

You will clearly see the original building in which David Livingstone was raised and immediately next to it, the modern building that is the visitor centre. The latter also contains the restaurant/cafe, where meals and snacks are available. The children's play area is also adjacent to the visitor centre.

Between the visitor centre and the David Livingstone museum is the entrance to the Explorers' Garden. This is an area containing many tropical plants not native to the UK, so although better visited in the summer, it is an interesting short walk at any time of the year.

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The David Livingstone Visitor Centre and cafe buildings are to the left in the above picture while the museum is in the centreRepresentation of the attack on Livingstone by a lion in Africa. He claimed it shook him as, "a terrier does a rat"Children's play area at David Livingstone CentreDavid Livingstone museum and conference centreA plaque on the museum wall acknowledges and commemorates the Sunday school children of Scotland who helped to fund the establishment of the David Livingstone CentreThe bell which started and ended David Livingstone's long working days at Blantyre Mill is attached to the museum wallDavid Livingstone Centre Explorers' GardenNarrow stone steps in Explorers' Garden where care is requiredPond in the Explorers' GardenSmall rope bridge in the Explorers' Garden
The David Livingstone Visitor Centre and cafe buildings are to the left in the above picture while the museum is in the centre
The David Livingstone Visitor Centre and cafe buildings are to the left in the above picture while the museum is in the centre
Representation of the attack on Livingstone by a lion in Africa. He claimed it shook him as, "a terrier does a rat"
Representation of the attack on Livingstone by a lion in Africa. He claimed it shook him as, "a terrier does a rat"
Children's play area at David Livingstone Centre
Children's play area at David Livingstone Centre
David Livingstone museum and conference centre
David Livingstone museum and conference centre
A plaque on the museum wall acknowledges and commemorates the Sunday school children of Scotland who helped to fund the establishment of the David Livingstone Centre
A plaque on the museum wall acknowledges and commemorates the Sunday school children of Scotland who helped to fund the establishment of the David Livingstone Centre
The bell which started and ended David Livingstone's long working days at Blantyre Mill is attached to the museum wall
The bell which started and ended David Livingstone's long working days at Blantyre Mill is attached to the museum wall
David Livingstone Centre Explorers' Garden
David Livingstone Centre Explorers' Garden
Narrow stone steps in Explorers' Garden where care is required
Narrow stone steps in Explorers' Garden where care is required
Pond in the Explorers' Garden
Pond in the Explorers' Garden
Small rope bridge in the Explorers' Garden
Small rope bridge in the Explorers' Garden

David Livingstone Visitor Centre and Cafe

David Livingstone Visitor Centre and cafe
David Livingstone Visitor Centre and cafe

The David Livingstone Visitor Centre is located immediately adjacent to the main museum. This is where tickets for entry to the museum must be purchased in advance, though entry to the grounds is free. Information literature on David Livingstone and wider visitor attractions in Scotland are all available.

David Livingstone's One Room Childhood Family Home

The small room that was David Livingstone's childhood family home
The small room that was David Livingstone's childhood family home

There are many different displays and exhibits contained in the museum building of the David Livingstone Centre. It is the small room which was David Livingstone's childhood home, however, which many may find to be of most interest and this is of course the reason why the memorial as a whole exists today.

It will be difficult for an overwhelming majority of people who visit to imagine a family of ultimately nine living in such a small space. The living quarters consisted essentially of two curtained bed chambers, a range/fire/cooking area, a table, a chest of drawers and one storage cupboard. It is humbling to see and certainly lends a magnificent insight to the origins of the boy who became the man that was Dr David Livingstone.

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David Livingstone Centre - General Exhibits

Representation of David Livingstone in conference with an African tribal chief
Representation of David Livingstone in conference with an African tribal chief

The exhibits in the David Livingstone Memorial are many and varied and are all included in the purchase price of the ticket from the visitor centre. There is only one point which you should carefully note in advance: at one stage, you will walk in to the darkened corridor and that is deliberate in relation to the exhibits. Take a few seconds to let your eyes adjust before you proceed. It makes life much easier.

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Model of Blantyre village from the time of David Livingstone's childhoodA loom of the type upon which David Livingstone would have worked in Blantyre Cotton MillDavid Livingstone's university certificatesA look at the world in David Livingstone's timeSome of David Livingstone's scientific and navigational equipmentDavid Livingstone's consular uniform and bibleHunting tools and weaponsAnimal skullsModel of Blantyre Church, Malawi, named after David Livingstone's home townSome of David Livingstone's original letters and journals
Model of Blantyre village from the time of David Livingstone's childhood
Model of Blantyre village from the time of David Livingstone's childhood
A loom of the type upon which David Livingstone would have worked in Blantyre Cotton Mill
A loom of the type upon which David Livingstone would have worked in Blantyre Cotton Mill
David Livingstone's university certificates
David Livingstone's university certificates
A look at the world in David Livingstone's time
A look at the world in David Livingstone's time
Some of David Livingstone's scientific and navigational equipment
Some of David Livingstone's scientific and navigational equipment
David Livingstone's consular uniform and bible
David Livingstone's consular uniform and bible
Hunting tools and weapons
Hunting tools and weapons
Animal skulls
Animal skulls
Model of Blantyre Church, Malawi, named after David Livingstone's home town
Model of Blantyre Church, Malawi, named after David Livingstone's home town
Some of David Livingstone's original letters and journals
Some of David Livingstone's original letters and journals

Memorial to David Livingstone's Final Resting Place

"The love of Christ compelled me" - Dr David Livingstone
"The love of Christ compelled me" - Dr David Livingstone

David Livingstone is buried - like so many other British luminaries through history - in Westminster Abbey, in London. There is, however, a section in the museum which contains a replica of the stone which covers his grave and a humble cross made from the wood of the mvula tree, under which David Livingstone's heart was buried after his death before his other Earthly remains were brought home to the UK.

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Replica of David Livingstone's grave in Westminster AbbeyDavid Livingstone's heart remains forever in Africa
Replica of David Livingstone's grave in Westminster Abbey
Replica of David Livingstone's grave in Westminster Abbey
David Livingstone's heart remains forever in Africa
David Livingstone's heart remains forever in Africa

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8 comments

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 2 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

It's a very interesting place to visit grand old lady and a wonderful memorial to a great man. Thanks for reading and commenting.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

Sounds like a wonderful museum. Mr. Livingstone becomes morre wekk own because of the preservation of his home.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Ah, well, Dan Brown certainly did his research. It's true that much of Old Edinburgh was owned by the Knight's Templar. I've never actually been to the Rosslyn Chapel but I used to live less than a mile from the Castle and know it very well. I have done since childhood and long before I ever lived in Edinburgh. Visiting the Castle is a wonderful experience - so is visiting the beautiful City of Edinburgh as a whole. I would recommend it to anyone. Thanks again, Nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

I always wanted to go to Edinburgh, see the Castle and then visit Rosslyn Chapel, yes its Dan browns fault! lol!


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Nell and thanks. I hope that trip comes off for you - you certainly won't be short of places to see and explore.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Gordon, fascinating look at the Livingstone Centre, one of these days I will come up to Scotland and take a look around at all the brilliant historical sites and places, great hub voted and shared, nell


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Cycling Fitness. Yes, it is a nice place to visit. This was my first visit since childhood so it was like seeing it again for the first time. I'm sorry you didn't know about it earlier but hope you do get the chance to visit next time around. It's very easy to get to from Glasgow. Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.


CyclingFitness profile image

CyclingFitness 3 years ago from Nottingham UK

This looks a very nice visitor centre and very educational too. I wish I'd known about it on a recent trip up to Scotland. I'll bear it in mind as when heading to the Western Highland's a stop around Glasgow suits me so thanks very much for sharing.

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