Historically the Town Council in Lanark would have had a Tolbooth or Council Chamber where they held their meetings and to serve as a base for their Officials, the Treasurer and Town Officer.
There have been three Tolbooth buildings on the present site. The earliest reference to the “Tulbuth" in Lanark is found in the Burgh Records of 20th May 1448. The records suggest that the building would have been a single storey with a loft and bellhouse with open vaults underneath however no precise record exists of the actual layout of this early building which served as Council House or Tolbooth at the foot of the “ Heiton" or High Street until 1571 by which time it was in ruinous condition and required major reconstruction. It was replaced by the Council with a new building which survived until 1778.
The early Tolbooths were also used as jails and over time the term “Tolbooth” came to be applied to the jail only the remaining part being known as the Council Chamber or the Council’s Town House. In 1771 a separate jail was built at the the corner of Wellgate adjacent to the old building .
By 1778 the Tolbooth building was in a dangerous state but the Council were not in a financial position to repair it. The “Gentlemen of the County”offered to, and erected, a new building entirely at their expense the only condition was that the were permitted to use the Upper Hall as a gathering place. This is the Tolbooth building existing today.
In 1838 the Council moved their functions to a newly completed building on Hope Street and no longer requiring the Tolbooth building the building was let out for various commercial purposes and eventually sold. Over the intervening years The Tolbooth was been used as a printers office, auction house and a general grocers shop “Cooper Brothers” with it’s last commercial occupant being “Semi Chem"
When the part of the building comprising the ground floor room and the hall above was offered for sale the building was purchased using Lanark’s “Common Good” funds and the Tolbooth Trust formed and the buildings future placed in the care of the Trust which undertook essential maintenance and modernisation developing it as a Heritage Centre .
In 2017 The Tolbooth Trustees embarked on the redesign of the ground floor unlocking the buildings potential as a Gallery Room and Arts Hub open daily manned by a dedicated group of volunteers.
Designed & built by Mucky Puddle