Boyhood military medals from his father led Ian to start major West Lothian tourist attraction

Medals left to a nine year old boy when his father died were the start of a lifelong interest in all things military which has now grown into one of West Lothian’s major tourist attractions.
The Military Museum Scotland is a labour of love from owner and curator Ian Inglis.The Military Museum Scotland is a labour of love from owner and curator Ian Inglis.
The Military Museum Scotland is a labour of love from owner and curator Ian Inglis.

Now the collection run by Ian Inglis at the Military Museum Scotland needs a new home. With more than 100,000 items- including one of the largest military libraries inthe country- the museum is bursting at the seams.

Ian has run the museum in buildings at Sight Scotland’s Linburn facility since 2017. Before that it was on the road. Ian had a travelling exhibition and teaching resource to schools the length and breadth of the country.

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It was the popularity of that which persuaded Ian to set up the museum. “Teachers always asked where they could visit”, said Ian.

History: some of the items on display at the museumHistory: some of the items on display at the museum
History: some of the items on display at the museum

Since setting up at Linburn the museum has thrived, drawing visitors from across the world and winning awards from VisitScotland.

It has also developed as a teaching resource for local schools and youth groups and a support base for forces veterans.

Pre-Covid it ran a successful veterans breakfast club and since the start of lockdown it has become a veterans hub. It’s now a point of contact for all sorts of support services available to those who have served the country, in peace and in conflict.

The museum covers military life from the First World War up to the present day from exhibits as small as regimental tunic buttons up to a World War 2 Dodge truck weapons carrier and a Land Rover field communications vehicle. It has uniforms, deactivated weapons, regimental colours- everything military- covering army navy and air forces

War machine: Personnel carrierWar machine: Personnel carrier
War machine: Personnel carrier

Its archive also attracts scholars and historians with it collection of 10,000 books, letters and military papers the largest in Scotland.

Ian’s collection began as a nine-year-old when he was left his father’s medals from wartime service. It has grown ever since. Ian grew up to join up, and served with the Royal Artillery.

“Ninety percent of the museum collection is my personal collection I have built up. But I now have quite a few items on loan and some items have been donated, so they belong to the museum,” explained Ian.

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He added: “It’s a fantastic site, but imagine what it could be?

“Ideally I’d like to stay on this side of the county. If we could find a building we would not need to do a great deal to move. We could be up and running and maybe open within a few months. A purpose built building we’d be looking for around £1.5m to fund that.”

Local Councillor Damian Doran-Timson said: “The museum has been an incredible success through the fantastic work of Ian Inglis and the volunteers who have made it an award winning attraction with visitors from around the globe.”

“The museum has outgrown its current location and needs a suitable venue . It is vital that it stays in West Lothian and I’d call upon West Lothian Council to assist in either sourcing a suitable premise, or land, so a bespoke military museum can be built”.

“I have already held meetings with the council regarding this and hope something can be found soon."

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