The Museum of Scottish Railways in Bo’ness, West Lothian is operated by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society. The site is the most important railway museum in Scotland and as well as holding hundreds of locomotives, carriages, wagons and other vehicles, it also boasts a range of significant historic railway buildings that have been relocated to Bo’ness over the years.
Purcell was commissioned by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society to develop proposals for a dedicated steam facility for the repair and conservation of their extensive collection. As part of the project, a new visitor route was developed including a new museum entrance with new library and education space.
The site has evolved over the last 50 years and it was recognised that a masterplan was required to set out the future development of the site. The existing museum building is located at the rear of the site and surrounded by railway tracks. The purpose of the project was to represent the museum to visitors in an accessible way and encourage more people to visit.
Purcell’s design solution brings together visitor route, steam facility and museum entrance by utilising a derelict area of the site, once an elevated plane used to load coal onto ships in the dock. The visitor route incorporates interpretive displays and leads to the new museum entrance via a public gallery and viewing area.
The gallery gives visitors a view of the work taking place in the steam shed below. Changing displays illustrate the locomotive repair works. Purcell produced a 10-year site masterplan and conservation statement which was submitted for HLF round 1 funding.