With the lifting of some Covid restrictions, we have been able to open once again. Open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 1030am till 4pm.
Welcome to our Museum
Come on in and have a wee look round. Click the image to start the tour.
Johnstone History Museum is in Johnstone, Scotland. It contains local industrial and social artefacts and memorabilia. For opening times and directions follow the Schedule and Direction buttons on this page. [Overview]
The origin of Johnstone can be traced precisely to the 23rd February 1782, when George Houstoun, the Laird of the Lands of Johnstone, sold the first tracts of land feus from his estate. Using the power from the River Black Cart the town's cotton and flax spinning industry rapidly expanded until over 20 mills were in operation. The cotton mills gave rise to a need for engineering skills to maintain the water wheel machinery and the spinning machines. These were boom times for the spinning industry in Johnstone. But this was not going to last.
As a result of the cotton famine caused by the American Civil War and the advent of steam power, by 1850, cotton spinning began to decline. But as the mills closed all was not lost for the people of Johnstone. The engineering businesses, built on cotton, survived the decline, and they then prospered in their own right. New firms were created that manufactured machine-tools of all kinds (see the photographs in our Gallery). Foundries were built to support the engineering works and there was a demand for the heavy machine tools for the construction of the iron ships being built on the Clyde. By the 1900s Johnstone designed and built machines were in demand all over the world. This was the second Industrial Revolution for the town of Johnstone.
The Museum exhibits trace the History of the Town from its inception though the rise and fall of the Textile industry and on to the various Engineering business. Some Engineering businesses survive in the Town to this day.
The Museum is open to the public on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10.30 a.m. till 4 p.m. The Museum can also be opened to accommodate school and local interest groups at other times by arrangement. Our Museum is manned on a voluntary basis by members of Johnstone History Society. Volunteers are welcome. Our website, of course, never closes.
We are delighted to let you know that Johnstone History Society Talks will return in October.
We will be at our usual venue of the Masonic Hall in Collier Street at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 12th October when we will have a talk from Douglas Breingan, of Renfrewshire Leisure, entitled 'Scottish Gardens - Mediaeval to Georgian' which Douglas tells me... Continues...
The Museum will participate in Doors Open Day again this year. In addition to opening on Saturday 4th September we will also be open on Sunday 5th September 1030 till 4pm. We have put on a couple of new displays that will be of special interest to the younger generation as well as bringing back memories to the oldies.
Kali Lindner and her family from Montana in the USA, recently visited the Museum, seeking information about her ancestors, the McLaurin family, of Smith & McLaurin fame. They also wished to find anything they could about Cartside House, the McLaurin's family home.
We were able to find information about the McLaurins who lived in the Mansion over... Continues...
Johnstone Band had a piece of music specially commissioned to perform at the recent Kapitol Cory Online Brass Band Championships. The piece, Black Cart Water by Nicholas Olsen, celebrates Johnstone’s industrial past with the thread and cotton mills that were powered by the Black Cart Water. We hope you enjoy our performance.
Thanks to Mark Good for his work on the video, to Ryan Bradley for the audio, to Kukscinema Scotland for drone footage and to Iain Murray of Johnstone History Museum for his assistance.