Newest Review: ... "Town Centre" is the under covered pedistrianised shopping area which is in the heart of the town. This has grown over the y... more
East Kilbride - Polo Mint City
East Kilbride in general
Member Name: rosebud2001
East Kilbride in general
Date: 05/11/08, updated on 14/06/09 (975 review reads)
Advantages: Covered Town Centre
Disadvantages: Roundabouts, roundabouts, er and roundabouts
East Kilbride is a large town in Scotland, situated about 8 miles to the south of Glasgow.
It was Scotland's first "new town", designated as such back in 1948. Before then it was a small village with an economy mostly fuelled by dairy farming and tourism.
Much of the "Old Village" remains today, and the new town grew around areas described by the planners as "neighbourhoods". The original neighbourhoods within the town were Calderwood, East Mains, West Mains, the Westwood and the Murray. The idea behind these neighbourhoods was to have planned housing no more than a 10 minute walk to local shops and services and a main road and public transport.
The town grew further in the 1960s and 1970s when the St Leonards, Greenhills and Whitehills areas were built.
Later on in the 1980s and 1990s the Stewartfield and Lindsayfield areas were developed by private companies and some of the original tenets of the town were lost, probably due to the huge increase in car ownership since the town was originally designated.
The outskirts of the town became home to three industrial estates - College Milton, Nerston and Kelvin with the later addition of the Peel Park Business Park. These industrial estates have housed various businesses over the years and some of the more famous, and now sadly departed ones include the printworks for "The Radio Times", BSR (anyone old enough to own a record player may remember them!), JVC and Motorola.
Major employers that remain within the town include the Inland Revenue, Rolls Royce and DFID (the Department for Internatiional Development).
The "Town Centre" is the under covered pedistrianised shopping area which is in the heart of the town. This has grown over the years and the first fully undercover part of the Town Centre was the old Arcade, followed by the Plaza which opened in 1975. In the 1980s it was decided to cover over all of the shopping areas in the town and thus when the third phase of the town centre, the Olympia, was opened by the Queen in 1991, the whole of the town centre was undercover for the first time.
This is a huge advantage because the weather in East Kilbride can be appallling. The town is situated on high ground so its not unheard of for the town to be snowed in while the rest of Scotland sees not a flake of the stuff.
Up until 1998 car parking was free in the Town Centre and even today, in a further expanded shopping area (the CentreWest part was added in 2003) it isn't particularly expensive...particularly if like me you have lived in London and Edinburgh!
The Town Centre has a wonderful range of high street stores including Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Sainsburys, Next and Zara. There are two food courts within the shopping centre and a couple of pubs for bar lunches.
The town is home to a multi-screen Odeon cinema in the Olympia part of the Town Centre. This replaced the old Caledonian Cinema and Olympia ballroom which were magnets for me in my youth - particularly the under 18 discos at the Olympia ballroom!
Close by to the cinema is the Ice Rink which is open for all to view but adds a lovely ambience to the shopping centre I feel.
There are two small venues for live entertainment - the Village Theatre and the East Kilbride Arts Centre.
There are also plenty of pubs in East Kilbride, but fewer within the Town Centre these days. I personally prefer to go to the Old Village and the Montgomerie Arms, which is East Kilbride's oldest and best pub.
As for dining, again the Old Village is home to some excellent restaurants, particularly Indian and Chinese.
There is no denying that the worst aspect about East Kilbride is the roundabouts. The town is full of them, and the worst one is quite possibly the worst roundabout I have ever had the misfortune to use, which is the Whirlies. This roundabout is infamous and is quite possibly one of the worst "welcomes" to a town I have ever encountered. The addition of traffic lights a few years ago has made it slightly more palatable to use as a driver but if you are approaching the town from the A725 or the A749 you cannot miss this roundabout.
The town is close to both the M74 motorway and the M77 and the A725 takes you quickly (traffic permitting!) to the M8.
The town has a rail link to Glasgow Central and there are two stations within the town - the main East Kilbride station is located about a 10 minute walk (uphill!) to the Town Centre. About 20 years ago there were plans afoot to extend the railway line to the Town Centre but the handful of people who were going to be affected by this managed to have the idea scrapped. Of course why the original planners didn't do this remains a mystery.
The second station is located in Hairmyres, a short walk from the town's main hospital which is also famous for treating George Orwell when his TB flared up. Part of 1984 was written there but the old buildings have long gone to be replaced by a brand new hospital.
Bus services are mainly run by First and there are frequent services to Glasgow, Hamilton, Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Ayr. A new bus service provided by Arriva links the town with the Silverburn shopping centre and Glasgow Airport.
There are several sports facilities within the town, including the Dolan Aqua Centre which has sadly just recently closed for just over a year for refurbishment. This is home to one of the UK's few 50 metre swimming pools and a gym.
There are two major sports centres at Greenhills and the John Wright Sports Centre in Calderwood which also has a small athletics track.
Also within the town are the James Hamilton Heritage Park in Stewartfield and the Museum of Country Life. There is also a small museum to celebrate the Hunter brothers who were pioneers in surgery.
The town has changed a lot since I was a child - for example both my old primary school and secondary school have now been demolished - the primary no doubt to be replaced by more houses, and the secondary has merged with another to take into account lower school rolls and been replaced with a brand new building.
I haven't lived in East Kilbride since 1990 but my family are still there so I visit at least once a month. It is a place I still like to go to and spend time in and feel my daughter can run around safely in the Town Centre unlike some other high streets in the UK.
It's probably not the sort of place you would visit as a tourist but for a day trip to shop and play, I would recommend it!
Summary: Scotland's First New Town