East Kilbride

South Lanarkshire

Situated 12 miles (19.3 km) south of Glasgow and 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Paisley on an exposed upland plateau, East Kilbride is Scotland's sixth largest settlement and second largest town. It was the first New Town to be built in Scotland, being designated as such on 6th May 1947 as part of the solution to Glasgow's overspill population problem. A further aim was diversification from the traditional 'heavy industries' towards new industries based on electronics, science and technology. Work began in 1948 and the town was initially designed to accommodate 45,000 people with four neighbourhoods of public housing built around a town centre, each with its own facilities including schools, churches and shops. These districts were Calderwood, Mains, The Murray and Westwood, with St. Leonards and Greenhills coming later and Whitehills, Newlandsmuir, Mossneuk, Hairmyres and Stewartfield added as the population continued to grow. The main shopping, leisure and administrative facilities were concentrated in a large complex known as the Town Centre. In stark contrast to the Glasgow slums, blocks of flats were built next to open spaces and houses had gardens. Traffic was routed onto major ring roads keeping the neighbourhoods safe for children to play and walk to school. Today, East Kilbride's economy is supported by a population which is still growing and has a strong local identity; there are several industrial estates as well as attractive and popular shopping areas. A significant proportion of the population still commutes into Glasgow and elsewhere for work.

The New Town developed from the pre-existing villages of East Kilbride and Maxwellton. The Kittoch Water flows through the town, while to the east flows the Rotten Calder. The village of East Kilbride began in the 12th C. and may have been dedicated to St. Bride or Bridget. Its industries included dairy farming and weaving (primarily muslin) while a cotton spinning mill was established by General Stuart of Torrance in 1793; this soon shifted east to use the water power of the Rotten Calder at Newhouse. Other industries in the area included bootmaking, coal, lime, tile-making (from local clay), cement production and clock-making. In 1653 the first Scottish meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) was held in East Kilbride.

Notable in its early years for a young economically-active population, with more than one job per household, East Kilbride's industry is wide ranging and includes a large Science Park (at the Peel Park Campus) and the Scottish Enterprise Technology Park where significant operations have included the National Engineering Laboratory, Motorola and Rolls-Royce. HM Revenue & Customs have a major tax-processing and enquiries centre in the town, occupying Queensway House and Plaza Tower, while the UK Department for International Development can be found in Abercrombie House to the west, and Police Scotland have a recruitment and training centre at Jackton on the western edge of the town. Several factories and workshops were built speculatively awaiting occupants, alongside numerous purpose-built facilities.

Nearby are the settlements of Hamilton, Blantyre and Eaglesham, while attractions include Calderglen Country Park, the ruins of Craigneith Castle, Torrance House (14th C.) and a golf course; to the north is the James Hamilton Heritage Park with Mains Castle (13th C.). There are railway stations at Hairmyres and East Kilbride itself, near to the old village, together with a bus station in the Town Centre.

The anatomists William and John Hunter were born at Long Calderwood House, now a museum. Other notables born here include poet John Struthers (1776 - 1853), author and broadcaster Muriel Gray (b.1959), politician Dr. Liam Fox (b.1961), actress Blythe Duff (b.1962) and television geologist Prof. Iain Stewart (b.1964).

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