9th December 1955

Cumbernauld is designated a New Town

The village of Cumbernauld was designated to become Scotland’s third New Town in 1955. Other Scottish New Towns  include Livingston, Glenrothes and, its first, East Kilbride.

When complete, the original plan was for Cumbernauld to provide homes for 50,000 people, although this was later increased by a further 20,000.

It was designed to ensure there was significant safe green space by keeping traffic out of residential neighbourhoods where possible. This caught the public imagination when Princess Margaret opened the first phase of the development in 1967. On 18 May that year, the Liverpool Echo reported on the new town centre “incorporating many of the latest ideas for segregating pedestrians from motor traffic.” It continued, “Already more than £2,000,000 has been spend on the project, covering just under five acres. When complete, it will cover more than 40 acres and cost a total of about £15,000,000.”

Sketch for the design of Cumbernauld, on display at the V&A, Dundee
Sketch for the design of Cumbernauld, on display at the V&A, Dundee

Innovative development

The development was so innovative that it was selected to represent Britain on a global television broadcast, alongside The Beatles. “The show – ‘Our World’ – is the world-wide live TV line-up which will be seen by up to 700,000,000 viewers in thirty-one nations,” reported the Daily Mirror on 19 May 1967. The paper quoted a BBC spokesperson who explained that the Corporation “picked the Beatles because they are the best of their kind in the world”, so it was testament to the new town’s importance that “the only other British contribution will be an item about Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, the international award winning new town which Princess Margaret visited yesterday.”

Cumbernauld’s importance continued to be recognised in the following decades. The BBC reported on 25 May 2012 that, despite it having twice won the Plook on the Plinth title “for having Scotland’s “most dismal” town centre in 2001 and 2005”, it underwent something of a reneissance, winning Best Town at the 2012 Scottish Design Awards on the basis of a public vote.

And, on 11 September 2013, The Herald reported that “eight years and a new shopping centre after its last Carbuncle [award], the 50s new town has been crowned the winner of Beautiful Scotland’s Small City category for the first time. The town scooped the accolade after judges were impressed with the local community’s ongoing commitment to improving their town.”



Other events that occured in December

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