North Lanarkshire

Situated 9 miles (14.4 km) east of Glasgow, 3 miles (5 km) west of Airdrie in the parish of Old Monkland and within North Lanarkshire, the former industrial town of Coatbridge once boasted 'more blast furnaces than any other town in Scotland.' Its other industries have included coal mining, the manufacture of bricks, fire-bricks, steel and engineering. Developing from a bridge on the Colts estate into Scotland's eighth largest town, Coatbridge grew with the construction of the Monkland Canal (finished in 1791), the discovery of ironstone by David Mushet (1801), and the invention of the hot blast furnace by James Beaumont Neilson (1828), leading to 60 furnaces by mid-century. Firms associated with the town include the Scottish Iron and Steel Company, Stewarts and Lloyds, the Scottish Tube Company, R.B. Tennent, William Bain and Co., and the Coatbridge Engineering Company. Its reputation for excessive pollution and the fiery spectacle of the furnaces led one observer to claim 'There is no worse place out of Hell than that neighbourhood.'

The Monklands Canal was built in the later 18th C. to move coal from the Monklands Coalfields to Glasgow and export iron products. From 1826, Coatbridge was linked to other towns through railways that carried both passengers and freight, and which culminated in a total of ten passenger stations in the town at one time earning it the title of 'The Charing Cross of Scotland'. There are still six railways stations, together with the Coatbridge Freightliner Terminal. Coatbridge is also notable as having the world's first automatic telephone exchange in 1886, designed by Dane Sinclair (1852 - 1930). Less favourably, the town was named the most dismal place in Scotland in 2007 as part of the Carbuncle Awards.

A notable attraction for Coatbridge, and one of the most unique in Scotland, is the Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, created on the site of the former Summerlee Iron Works, which includes working machinery, trams and ironworks, a section of canal, and a large Machine Exhibition Hall. Other notable buildings in Coatbridge include Gartsherrie Church (1839), Gartsherrie Academy (1845), Carnegie Library (1905), St Patrick's Church (1896), the remains of the Municipal Buildings (1894, damaged by fire in 1967) and Coats Parish Church (1874, with its tall clock tower). Coatbridge College became part of New College Lanarkshire in 2013.

Those born in Coatbridge include American preacher Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall (1902-49), snooker champion Walter Donaldson (1907-73), politician Helen Liddell (b.1950), author Des Dillon (b.1960) and disc-jockey Heather Suttie (b.1973). The poet Janet Hamilton (1795 - 1873) lived nearby and actor Ian Bannen (1928-99) and Judo champions Louise (b.1982) and Kimberley Renicks (b.1988) were raised here.

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