1968: Cumbernauld New Town, Scotland

All images by C.E. Fudge

24 Responses

  1. Youngsod

    I’m not at all surprised to see that it looked horrific even when it was new. Not one of Scotlands planning successes I always though East Kilbride a far nicer new town.

  2. Kyle

    Wow, TV’s Craig Ferguson talks about how awful Cumbernauld is in his memoir (he grew up there) but this is well worse than I imagined!

  3. qka

    Reminds me of New Town developments in Hong Kong, but without the crowds.

  4. David

    That’s when it was new? Dear God! I’d be hanging from the rafters after a week.

    • Topov

      I was on a Scotland visit with a Russian friend about 13 years ago, and we detoured for a day trip to Cumbernauld here. I’d driven through before but never stopped, so this was my chance before it got pulled down and tarted up with some new misguided grotesquenesses. My lifelong fascination came from the pics I’d seen in a school book from the early 70s, taken on a rare sunny day, and even then it struck me as awful. And I was a kid whose entire existence – home, school, shops, library, even the swimming baths – was exclusively conducted in tumble-down Victoriana, and so I worshipped new buildings. Before I grew up and knew better.

      Anyway, it was a Thursday – giro day IIRC – and there were a lot of Bucky-swillers and scag-mongers en evidence. Her first remarks on seeing the town translate roughly as follows:

      “If it was a toss-up between living here or Vorkuta I think I’d just wait in the car and drink myself to death very quickly instead.”

  5. John

    What a hole! Whatever possessed the planners to think places like this were a good idea? I like the young girls wearing their mother’s shoes though!

  6. KC

    The “experts” who told everybody this is the future…….where did they live?

    Not here.

    • Topov

      Habitat-furnished Georgian/Victorian streets in Islington/Hampstead/Edinburgh/Redlands(Bristol)/Oxford etc etc. In solid spacious houses they bought for peanuts, were given generous local authority grants (not loans – grants) to refurbish, and then sold for eye-watering add-3-zeroes profit in the 80s.

  7. Paul Ward

    On first arrival in Cumbernauld, 10 years ago, I thought I was at Cumbernauld airport as I drove though the town centre. No joke, I thought the town centre was a terminal building.
    Worst design I have ever seen.

  8. Brian O'Connell

    It’s like American housing developments during the 50s/60s (the ones you see being blasted to the ground in Koyaanisqatsi). Someone got it in their head that the best way to help society, was by compressing it to the smallest space possible. Unfortunately the worst parts of society were compressed into those spaces instead.

    • Topov

      The famous Koyaanisqatsi demolition scene was spring 1972 footage of the Pruitt-Igoe project in St Louis. Built in the 1950s and designed by the WTC architect Yamasaki, its demise was described as “The day modern architecture died.”

      The major trouble is with the Corbusier-inspired brutalist school is that unadorned concrete looks and works fine in arid, bright Mediteranean climates. Not, for the love of God, in a boggy field in a dank, rain-lashed rock way up in the North Atlantic. The same problem befell many sixties tower blocks all over the UK – they were notoriously damp and cold even when structurally sound because the designs and pre-fab sections were specifically meant for building in Toulon and Marseille, not Glasgow, Sheffield or Plymouth.

  9. Alan Bickerstaff

    It didn’t look much better when they shot “Gregory’s Girl” there in 1981.

  10. Mark2

    Perhaps anyone who wants to be an architect should be made to live in Cumbernauld (or its equivalent) for six months before they are allowed to design anything for other people.

  11. Jason

    All that grey, barely relieved concrete in a grey environment.
    Eek. A spot of colour might have helped..?

  12. Holly

    Poor people…
    The second picture is a good example of how badly the construction was completed. The letter ‘p’ is leaning backwards, and the letter ‘k’ is already crumbling..Sad..

  13. Amy

    That is the most depressing town I’ve ever seen. Yikes. I want to kill myself just looking at it.

  14. Baron

    Even more brutal than Northwick Park Hospital in North London! I love it!

  15. Marion

    Perhaps it would be nice if some of you looked at photos of Cumbernauld these days instead of criticising the past.
    I have lived in Cumbernauld almost continuously for almost 50 years. I’ve brought my children up here, and most have elected to continue to live here when they left home, and to bring their own children up here.
    I sit here with a beautiful view of the Campsie Hills from my living room window. I step out the front door to a beautiful green grassed area where the children play. I use the town centre regularly, and I can assure you, these days it bears absolutely no relation to the photos on this page.
    I think the present day planners learned a lesson from the mistakes made in the past.


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