Local Information

Cumbernauld on the map, pinning down the town.

 
 
 

 About Cumbernauld

 
Cumbernauld is located in the Central belt of Scotland. Cumbernauld is the eighth most populous settlement in Scotland and the largest town in North Lanarkshire with a population of 49,664, taken from the 2001 census.  
 
Cumbernauld is twinned with a small town in France, called Bron. You can learn more by clicking onto the town website here.
 
Cumbernauld comes from the Scottish Gaelic “Comar nan alt”, meaning meeting of the waters, referring to the burns the flow west to the River Clyde and east to the River Forth.
 
By the end of World War Two Britain saw poor quality housing and overcrowding in mass populated areas. The solution was new towns.
 
At the time, the Labour Government, in London, commissioned the New Towns Committee, whose duty it was to look seek new ground on which to build these “New Towns.”
 
An early report, that was released in 1946 concluded the need to pull over 250’000 people out of the overcrowded city of Glasgow.
 
After the report was released, the Clyde Valley Planning advisory committee recommeded that the soon to be “Cumbernauld” should house 50,000 people.
 
1956, saw the members of the Cumbernauld Development Corporation appointed. It was their job to develop, promote and manage the growth of the new town. The Development Corporation carried on in this post until dissolved, along with the Cumbernauld District Council, in 1996, when North Lanarkshire Council was formed, leaving behind it a £420 million budget, which was handed to North Lanarkshire Council.
 
Construction began in 1963, with a £70 million budget.
 
The construction of the Cumbernauld Town Centre was the first phase of construction of Cumbernauld. Cumbernauld Town Centre was the first indoor shopping centre in the whole of the United Kingdom. Geoffrey Copcutt was the architect in charge of designing the mammoth building.
 
The Town Centre was set to be the “megastructure” which would be the social hub of the new town. The building incorporated penthouse apartments, shops, offices and community meeting spaces
 
The Cumbernauld Town Centre was built in four phases over 20 years, with the first phase being completed in 1967.
 
Soon, however, problems became clear as parts of the centre were unsafe. When North Lanarkshire Council took over they solved the major faults by demolishing parts of the building. Shortly, the wind tunnels and pedestrian walkways which were demolished became waste ground that was redeveloped to become the new Antonine Centre, in 2006.
 
Cumbernauld’s chief architect and planning officer was Lesley Hugh Wilson, who drew up the master plan for the town, and was also responsible for designing some of the housing, factories and shops in the town. He brought in planners and designers from around the world, to design and plan every aspect of urban life.
 
Cumbernauld was built with a “utopian” style. The new town was unique and of its own class.
Cumbernauld was built to keep pedestrians away from cars and make people walk using the pavements, underpasses and bridges, that in 20 minutes would take you directly to the Town Centre- and still do. There were no traffic lights or pedestrian crosses and Cumbernauld has wide roads that made the town safer for families to walk.
 
Every 400 house had a local convenience store, each area had a community facility and 57% of houses in Cumbernauld had their own garden, with a large portion of houses having an individual private garage, an excellent facilities for families that moved to the new town. Housing was massively improved for the families that moved to Cumbernauld. People left behind the slums and overcrowded tenanment building of Glasgow, to a more spacious, relaxing atmosphere.
 
With the average age of Cumbernauld, at the time, being only 27 years old, architects built bungalows and low houses to mix up the population; bringing young and old together in the new town, but only 5% of the total population, of Cumbernauld, were elderly. 
 

Cumbernauld became a world leader in design as in 1967 visiting judges from the American Institute of Architects awarded Cumbernauld the Reynolds Award. Judges described it as the “Most significant current contribution to the art and science of urban design in the western world”.

After receiving the prestigious award, there were over 4’000 official visits from 40 different countries, in just one year. However, in 2001, the town was awarded the Plook on the Plinth award and crowned “The Most Dismal Place in Scotland” by Unlimited magazine. Judges described Copcutt’s town centre as “a rabbit warren on stilts”. Cumbernauld was awarded the Plook on the Plinth award once again in 2005.
 
Cumbernauld became famous once again for its new sculpture, Arria, named after Arria Fadilla, the mother of Emperor Antoninus. The sculpture cost £250’000 and was created by artist Andy Scott whose other artwork includes the M8 Heavy Horse and Falkirk Helix Water Kelpies. The sculpture was part of the Cumbernauld Positive Image Project, and is viewed by 70’000 commuters, a day.