Scottish Gaelic: Comar nan Allt

Cumbernauld's town centre
Cumbernauld is located in North Lanarkshire
 Cumbernauld shown within North Lanarkshire
Population 49,664 [1] (2001 census)
OS grid reference
Council area North Lanarkshire
Lieutenancy area Dunbartonshire
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town GLASGOW
Dialling code 01236
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
Scottish Parliament Cumbernauld and Kilsyth
List of places

Cumbernauld (Scots: Cummernaud,[2][3] Scottish Gaelic: Comar nan Allt)[4] is a Scottish new town in North Lanarkshire, historically in Dunbartonshire. It was created in 1956 as a population overspill for the city of Glasgow. It is the eighth most populous settlement in Scotland and the largest in North Lanarkshire. The name comes from the Gaelic comar nan allt, meaning "meeting of the streams" as, geographically, from its high point in the Central Belt streams flow west to the River Clyde and east to the River Forth. A two-time winner of the Carbuncle Awards,[5] the town has since received the award of 'Best Town' at the Scottish Design Awards 2012.[5]


  • History 1
  • New town 2
  • Modern times 3
  • Housing 4
  • Sport 5
  • Transport 6
  • Education 7
    • Primary schools 7.1
    • Secondary schools 7.2
    • Special-needs schools 7.3
    • Further education 7.4
  • Religion 8
  • Famous residents 9
  • Areas of the town 10
  • Nearby towns and villages 11
    • Towns 11.1
    • Villages 11.2
  • Twin towns 12
  • Notable buildings 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • External links 16


Cumbernauld's history stretches to Roman times, with a settlement near the Antonine Wall, the furthest and most northerly boundary of the Roman Empire. The security that the wall gave from possibly hostile tribes to the north probably allowed the foundation of a settlement. A rural population grew in the area where Cumbernauld's housing estates now stand, with the centrepoints being the 18th century Cumbernauld House, built close to the site of the medieval Cumbernauld Castle, and Cumbernauld Village nearby.

Cumbernauld House stands on the site of the old Cumbernauld Castle, first built as a Norman-style motte and bailey. Owned by the Comyns, it was situated at the east end of the park, where the motte (mound) is still visible. The Fleming family built their castle where the house now sits. One original wall can be seen in the allotment area. The castle played host to the royalty of Scotland, including Mary, Queen of Scots, who visited the castle and planted a yew tree at Castlecary Castle, only a mile or two away, which still grows there. The roof of the great hall collapsed while the queen was staying there, though she was not hurt.

Royalty often visited the town to hunt the mysterious Scottish ox, or white cattle, which roamed in the woods around Cumbernauld. These woods were a surviving fragment of the ancient Caledonian Forest, in which the oxen abounded. Cumbernauld House was designed by William Adam and is currently unoccupied. The old grounds are used today as a park, known as Cumbernauld Park. A mining and quarrying industry flourished after the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal, notably at Auchinstarry Quarry which is now a popular location for climbing and abseiling, and at Glencryan, where the old clay mine and its associated structures are still clearly visible.

Weaving was an important part of the town's industry before the Industrial Revolution, when all the work of that kind moved to neighbouring bigger towns such as Glasgow.[6]

The Scottish Gaelic name from the town, Scottish Gaelic: Comar nan Allt, comes from its being located where streams flow west into the Clyde and east into the Forth rivers, and translates into English as 'The Meeting Of The Waters'. It was long a staging-post for changing horses between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It has variously been in Stirlingshire, Dunbartonshire, and the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth District of Strathclyde region. Since 1995 it has been part of North Lanarkshire.

New town

After the Second World War Glasgow was suffering from chronic shortages of housing and poor housing conditions, particularly in areas such as the Gorbals. As a direct result the Clyde Valley Regional Plan 1946 allocated sites where satellite new towns were to be constructed to help alleviate the problem through an overspill agreement.[7] Glasgow would also undertake the development of its peripheral housing estates. Cumbernauld was designated a new town in 1955, the third to be designated in Scotland. The others were East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Livingston and Irvine (Cowling 1997).

South Carbrain viewed from Cumbernauld railway station

The development, promotion and management was undertaken, until 1996, by the Cumbernauld Development Corporation (CDC). This was a quango appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland (Cowling 1997).

Cumbernauld is the most clear example of a modernist new town vision in the UK.[8] Housing was originally delivered through constructing a series of satellite neighbourhoods which were clustered around the hilltop town centre. Separation of people and cars was a major element of the first town masterplan and this was carried through for much of the development of the town. Cumbernauld pioneered designs for underpasses and pedestrian footbridges as well as segregated footpaths. Early neighbourhoods were designed by the CDC and were constructed at Kildrum, Cumbernauld Village, Seafar, North Carbrain and Greenfaulds. Other neighbourhoods were later developed at Condorrat, South Carbrain and Abronhill. Much of the housing of these areas won awards for their innovative designs.

Cumbernauld town centre's lead designer was Geoffrey Copcutt.

When originally designated a New Town the target population was 50,000. In 1961, only five years after becoming a new town, the Area to the north of the A80 was included in the town's area with new planned neighbourhoods at Balloch, Dullatur, Westerwood and Eastfield. As a result a revised target population of 70,000 was predicted.[9] However only now is the population starting to climb above 50,000, but this is expected to increase substantially with 2,100 houses being built between 2001 and 2008.

After the creation of the new town, diverse industries such as high-tech, electronics, and chemical and food processing became large employers, along with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The main industrial estates were developed to the east and west along the A80 at Castlecary, Wardpark and Westfield. Areas at Luggiebank and South Carbrain to the south of the town have also been developed for industry.

In 2002 Cumbernauld was voted worst town in Scotland but massively improved by winning most improved town in Scotland 2010.

Modern times

Entrance to Cumbernauld Shopping Centre

Since then, the outlook has changed dramatically and the New Town has won a number of very unflattering awards including Urban Realm's "Plook on a Plinth" in both 2001 and 2005.[10] In December 2005 the entire Town Centre won a public nomination for demolition in the Channel 4 series Demolition, where it was voted "the worst building in Britain".[11] As a result of this, it was featured on the BBC Radio 2 comedy programme It's Been a Bad Week, where it won the show's fictional "Worst Week of the Week Award, Awarded Weekly, on a Week-By-Week Basis." In 2003.

The intended core of Cumbernauld remains the Town Centre buildings, all of which is essentially contained within one structure, segmented into "phases", the first of which was completed in 1967, the latest of which began construction in May 2003 for completion around September 2004. Initially the basic groundwork for the new shops began in 1997 and were finally completed in summer 2007. Designed to be a commerce centre, an entertainment and business venue and a luxury accommodation site, it was widely accepted as Britain's first shopping centre and was the world's first multi-level covered town centre.[8] However, the town never developed to its planned size, and the town centre has never had the life envisaged by town planners. Wealthy occupiers for the centre's penthouses located within the "alien's head" (as it has been dubbed by locals[12][13]) never materialised and some now lie empty and derelict. Further expansion has been primarily to provide further space for shops. A substantial portion of the original Shopping Centre was demolished due to structural damage and has been redeveloped as a new shopping and leisure complex.[14]

As well as the unfulfilled ambitions for the town, the passage of time has exposed serious defects in post-war concepts of centrally-planned retail and civic centres developed in the absence of proper community consultation or sensitivity to local environmental and economic conditions. This has been reflected in a country-wide backlash against modernist architecture in general. Cumbernauld's Town Centre is widely regarded as one of the ugliest and least-loved examples of post-war design in Scotland. The confusing layout is an abiding source of frustration for both visitors and residents, many of whom are the descendants of skilled workers who aspired to escape the frequently appalling social and housing conditions of the Glasgow conurbation in the 1960s and 70s.

West Elevation, Cumbernauld Shopping Centre 2005
OKI Electric manufacturing plant seen from the air.

Despite its bad press, from a purely aesthetic standpoint Cumbernauld is regarded as representing a significant moment in town design, and in 1993 it was listed as one of the DoCoMoMo.

Cumbernauld was the location for the 1981 film Gregory's Girl and its sequel, Gregory's Two Girls. In the film Orphans some of the scenes were shot in Carbrain. The old Isola-Werke factory in the Wardpark area has been converted into film studios & production facilities for the TV series Outlander for release in 2014.

The residential structure of Cumbernauld is noteworthy in that there were no pedestrian crossings, i.e. zebra or pelican crossings — pedestrians originally traversed roads by bridge or underpass (although ). This has led to the perception that the town is car-centric, and difficult to navigate by foot. In 2004 a set of traffic lights was erected in the Condorrat Village neighbourhood, soon followed by pelican crossings beside the new Tesco Extra.

Cumbernauld in the last few years has seen a surge of business activity with the New OKI UK headquarters in Wardpark and Yaskawa Electronics, A.G. Barr World Headquarters.


The town's housing is well planned and generally of high quality, making it a source of local civic pride in stark contrast to the town centre megastructure. The ideals of the 1960s were never realised and half of the New Town was never built. Cumbernauld North is home to many upmarket and large detached homes, many of which are surrounded by a golf course and have a backdrop of the Campsie Fells. Cumbernauld as a whole is leafy and airy and in no way conforms to its reputation of "concrete jungle".


Cumbernauld hosts many sporting clubs including Clyde F.C, who currently play in the Scottish League Two and reside at Broadwood Stadium. In 2012 Broadwood Stadium's grass pitch was replaced by a new artificial FIFA standard 3G surface in a partnership between Cumbernauld Colts youth football team, North Lanarkshire Leisure and the local council. Cumbernauld is home to Junior football side Cumbernauld United who play at Guy's Meadow.

The town's Rugby Team, Cumbernauld RFC, were formed in 1970 and quickly grew to have 3 senior men's teams and several junior teams. The club and council agreed in the late 70's to develop the Auchenkilns area in South Condorrat. The multi-sports facility opened in 1979 and is now shared with Kildrum United FC. They currently play in West regional league 2, the 5th tier of club rugby.[15]

There has been a gymnastics team, Cumbernauld Gymnastics Club, in the town for many years, and in the early 1990s it moved into its present base at Broadwood Gymnastics Academy, a purpose built building at the same site as Broadwood Stadium. There is also the Cumbernauld Handball Team, Tryst 77 which in 2007 came second in the British Handball Championships. The Tryst houses the Cumbernauld swimming team with many age groups competing in galas around the country, along with the Tryst Lions wrestling club.


Nearby motorway links include the M8, M73, M74, M80, M876 and M9. A local campaign was recently initiated to protest at the proposed extension of the M80 within the town limits. The A80 was recently upgraded to the M80.

In terms of public transport, Cumbernauld has bus links to Glasgow, Stirling, Falkirk, Dunfermline and St Andrews, which are operated by First Group and Stagecoach. The town has rail links to Glasgow, Falkirk, Motherwell and Edinburgh via Cumbernauld railway station. Croy railway station to the north of the town has rail links to Edinburgh, Alloa, Dunblane and Glasgow. Various parts of the town are linked by local bus services, operated by smaller companies such as Canavan Travel and Dunn's Coaches. Rail services to and from the town are provided by First ScotRail.

Cumbernauld Airport main building and part of runway.

Cumbernauld Airport (EGPG) is primarily used for the training of fixed wing and rotary wing pilots, it also has an aircraft maintenance facility. The airport has a CAA Ordinary Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee, Cormack Aircraft Services Limited. The airport was opened by the Cumbernauld Development Corpororation in the late 1980s. Before the airport was constructed there was a grass strip in use on the same site.


The Town has many primary and secondary schools to cater for the needs of the town and others surrounding it. The Cumbernauld College provides further education in the town.


There are currently about 17 churches in the town.

Famous residents

Areas of the town

Nearby towns and villages



Twin towns

Notable buildings

Sacred Heart Church in Kildrum, Cumbernauld.

Cumbernauld has many works by well-known architects. Gillespie, Kidd & Coia designed a number of buildings in the New Town, including:

Geoffrey Copcutt designed Cumbernauld Town Centre (Phase 1).

See also


Specific references:

  1. ^ "Comparative Population Profile: Cumbernauld Locality". Scotland's Census Results Online. 2001-04-29. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Scots Culture - Names in Scots - Places in Scotland - Scots Language Centre". Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  3. ^ The Online Scots Dictionary
  4. ^ "Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba - Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland - Database". Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  5. ^ a b "Cumbernauld voted best town after double 'plook' shame". BBC News. 2012-05-25. 
  6. ^ "Vision of Britain through time". 
  7. ^ Fraser, W Hamish. "Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day - Neighbourhoods -New Towns". TheGlasgowStory. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  8. ^ a b "From Here To Modernity Buildings - Cumbernauld Town Centre". 1955-12-09. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  9. ^ "Site Record for Cumbernauld, Cumbernauld Town Centre, General Town Centre Details". Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  10. ^ "UK | Scotland | Officials condemn 'Carbuncle' tag". BBC News. 2005-10-21. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  11. ^ "Demolition". Channel 4. 2005. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  12. ^ "What's it called? Carbuncle-nauld".  
  13. ^  
  14. ^ "Antonine Centre website". 
  15. ^

General references:

  • Cowling, D (1997) An Essay for Today- The Scottish New Towns 1947-1997 (Rutland Press, Edinburgh)
  • Scotland on Film new town archive
  • Film- New Towns in Scotland
  • Times Online article
  • Cumbernauld Park
  • Cumbernauld, Town for Tomorrow
  • From Here to Modernity website
  • New Towns: Can They Be Given New Life?
  • 360 Degree Panoramas of Cumbernauld Airport from

External links

  • Cumbernauld Media, Cumbernauld's local website (A local website covering Cumbernauld, publishing analysis, blogs, information and news about the town)
  • National Library of Scotland: SCOTTISH SCREEN ARCHIVE (archive films about Cumbernauld)