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Palacerigg Country Park

Situated on the southern outskirts of Cumbernauld in North Lanarkshire, the Palacerigg Country Park opened in 1974 on land which was once an upland farm. Covering an area of almost 283 ha (700 acres), the park has been planted with thousands of native plants, shrubs and trees to provide a natural habitat for populations of rabbit, hare, badger, fox, roe deer as well as owls and hawks. Located within the grounds of the park are a Children's Farm, a Wildlife and Rare Breeds Collection, nature trails, a Tree Top Walkway and a centre for weekend training courses. Some of the more unusual species kept here such, as wolves, did not last long, but the loss other popular animals including reindeer, owls, wildcat, silver fox and pine martens caused controversy amongst local people when their removal was announced in 2006 as a cost-saving measure by North Lanarkshire Council. A pair of Millennium Longhouses were built from local timber using traditional techniques and now provide a base for the demonstration of crafts such as charcoal burning, willow sculpture and basket weaving which are make use of resources found in the adjacent woodlands. Palacerigg Golf Club is also based here, using a public course also maintained by North Lanarkshire Council. Palacerigg House Museum closed in 2001 but Palacerigg Visitor and Exhibition Centre remains. The park served as a location in the film Gregory's Two Girls (1999).

Having previously been a sheep farm, Palacerigg became a farm colony for the unemployed when the Glasgow Distress Committee bought the land in 1907. Distress Committees were established under the Unemployed Workmen's Act of 1905. Moorland was drained to provide agricultural land for the cultivation of vegetables with the intention of providing a self-sufficient community to occupy men for whom there was no state assistance at the time. Excess produce was sold, the peat removed was exported as fire-lighters and eventually a sizeable camp, with roads and even a railway were built which brought men in from the city every day to add to the resident population. In 1930, the initiative passed to the Public Assistance Department of Glasgow Corporation and the residential aspect of the scheme was ended, with up to 900 men brought to Palacerigg daily. The scheme came to an end with the outbreak of the Second World War as the demands of a national emergency ensured there was no unemployment.


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