Newton Stewart Museum

Getting ready for this year's opening with some of the Newton Stewart Museum volunteers, Lucy Owen, Kirsty Robertson, Michael Dunlop and Peter Henk.'GG 0404014 12
Getting ready for this year's opening with some of the Newton Stewart Museum volunteers, Lucy Owen, Kirsty Robertson, Michael Dunlop and Peter Henk.'GG 0404014 12

OVER the Easter Bank Holiday why not visit one of Newton Stewart’s best kept secrets - the museum on the town’s York Road.

You will be amazed at the range of artefacts on display there from old paintings and pictures, to bicycles, arts and crafts, agricultural equipment, war memorabilia as well as a stunning collection of old costumes generously donated to the museum.

The volunteers who run the museum in the former St John’s Church have been very busy throughout the winter months finished off the three-year long task of digitally collating all the exhibits. Every item has now been cleaned, photographed and re-numbered. The doors are now open to the public and there are two new display cabinets this year, kindly donated by the Galloway Preservation Society.

Unfortunately, the museum is run on a shoestring and need your support. Even with the help of Dumfries and Galloway Council, each year it is becoming more and more of a struggle to keep this hidden gem open.

The museum has just had a facelift and is well worth a look round, even if you have been before, come again and enjoy the newly displayed exhibits. Of particular interest is the Erskine gun made by a local gunsmith who ran a very successful business in Newton Stewart in the 19th century. An Erskine gun won a bronze medal at the Great Exhibition in 1851 at the Crystal Palace and the company supplied guns to HRH Prince Taxis of Austria and the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg. Also worth having a wander round is the dairy section which is so comprehensive it is of national significance.

Then there are the numerous and varied display of costumes - mourning outfits, children’s Sunday best, night attire, tea dresses and wedding dresses. You have to marvel, when you see the size if the waistbands, how the women managed to do normal things like eat, sit down or even breath. One of the most stunning is the late Miss Drew’s mother’s ball gown from 1907, a full length concoction in cream silk that wouldn’t have look out of place strolling round the upper decks of the Titantic.

Opening times are 2pm top 5pm Monday to Saturday in April, May, June and September with additional Sunday afternoon and morning openings from 10am till 12.30 in July and August.

Because this is not a council run facility but a charitable trust, there is a small admission fee of £2 for adults and 20p for under 16’s. Other opening times can be arranged by request. Schools and some other groups are free.

The museum is run solely by volunteers and new recruits are essential to keep this amazing local attraction going. If you would like to help in any way, please contact Bill Marshall on 01671 402980 or Gene Fryatt on 01671 401048.