6th May 1947

East Kilbride becomes Scotland’s first New Town

The bombing of the Second World War, and the inflexibility of an economy geared entirely towards servicing the war effort, had caused enormous damage to the country’s housing stock and industrial infrastructure, which it was in no position to repair. Thus, with hostilities over, the New Towns Act 1946 was passed, allowing for the creation of several new towns across the United Kingdom to house those who had been made homeless, or who were living in damaged or substandard accommodation.

Several New Towns

In Scotland, East Kilbride was the first area designated a new town, on 6 May 1947. This was followed by Glenrothes the following year, Cumbernauld in 1955, Livingston in 1962 and Irvine in 1966. Stonehouse was designated a new town in 1973 – the same year that Cumbernauld was designated for extension – but was never built, and it remains a village.

The area of East Kilbride has been inhabited since long before records began, but the town we know today was built around a small village, as many new towns were. News that the village was to be extended can’t have come as a surprise. The Glasgow Herald of 6 June 1946 – almost twelve months previously – had reported that “the first of the new towns proposed in the report of the Clyde Valley Regional Planning Advisory Committee is to be erected in the East Kilbride area for a population of 50,000”.

Work could not begin until the project had been authorised in parliament.

Locals worried

Naturally, there was some disquiet among those already living in the village, who may have worried that its character would be irreperably changed. “It cannot be said that the East Kilbride scheme is being hailed with enthusiasm by the community,” the Glasgow Herald continued. “The general attitude is that it may be a good scheme if it proves to be well planned, although not all are pleased with the prospect of the village losing its rural atmosphere… it is feared that the coming of a new town would have a serious adverse effect on the agricultural industry.”

In building the new town, effort was made to incorporate green spaces within the housing and industrial areas, residential parts were broken into distinct neighbourhoods with local amenities, and a green belt was instituted to reduce the risk of urban sprawl.



Other events that occured in May

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