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Cumbernauld Village

A village with a long history

1914 Photograph

The photograph at the top of the page shows members of the village bowling club with visitors in 1914. The residents of Cumbernauld House, Captain Burns and his wife, are sitting in the middle of the front row. Captain Burns is holding a straw boater in his hand. The ladies directly behind him look very grand. The image is from a History of the Bowling Club written by Willie Paul.  What you can’t see on the web page are the roofs and chimneys of the Spur Hotel directly behind them, because at that time the bowling greens were across the road from the Spur in what we now call, Cumbernauld House Park or the Glen.  The date of 1914 makes you wonder how all these people were affected by the Great War.

The above photograph shows the Spur hotel some time in the early part of the twentieth century. The building across the street is Baird Memorial Church. In its later days this building served as a cinema.  It was destroyed by fire in the late 1960s.

Earlier History

The village itself goes back much further than this of course.  It grew up around Cumbernauld Castle in medieval times and later Cumbernauld House. However, it is likely that the original settlement dates back to the Roman period with links to the nearby Antonine wall.  The castle is no more but it is still possible to see its remains in the landscape near Cumbernauld House.

From the medieval period, the village assumed its still recognisable and classic layout of a Scottish medieval town.  

This early ordinance survey map shows that the layout is simple with  a castle and church at either end of a linear street. Dwellings and workshops run along it and narrow lands (‘lang riggs’) run at right angles to the street on both sides. These langriggs are still largely preserved in the Village on the south side and are currently receiving conservation attention.  In this beautifully coloured fragment of a 1820s map of the village below, you can see street names and langriggs with their owners’ names written on them.  You can just about see that, at that time, the Main Street was known as High Street and the Wynd was known as Bridge Street. A stocking factory and a weavers' society are also marked on Bridge Street.

The medieval village was surrounded by a wall with gates which would have been closed at night. The western end of the Main Street in the village is known as Baronhill and would have been the site of the residence of the Baron Baillie. The Baron Baillie acted on behalf of the Lord of the Barony and was a law officer responsible for a wide range of issues from law and order to running the local market. The Village itself was part of the Parish of Kirkintilloch until 1649 when it became a Parish in its own right.



In later centuries industries of importance to the inhabitants included tenant farming, hand loom weaving which boomed in the eighteenth century, and brick making. The Village had a number of hostelries and the Spur Hotel would have been an important resting place in the days of horse travel between Glasgow and towns such as Stirling, Bo’ness and Falkirk.

Twentieth Century

Perhaps the most significant event for the village was the development of Cumbernauld New Town from 1957 which also meant an expansion of the village itself. However this partly simply reflected the huge changes the village went through as it made its transition from a rural farming community, to a small urban one. The photograph below shows the village on the cusp of that change. It was taken by Douglas Campbell (1912-2007), a Scotsman who travelled widely in the twentieth century taking photographs. You can see his work on flickr  http://www.flickr.com/people/thedouglascampbellshow/  Here we have a photograph of the village and surrounding area’s cattle show in the late 1950s. There are more on his flickr page.  Clearly, this was before the expansion of the village in the 1960s when Cumbernauld Development Corporation built new housing in the village.


Also of interest in terms of twentieth century memories are these photographs of  Cumbernauld’s Home Guard taken during the second World War.


There are various short historical summaries of relevance around the web. Many of these rely on the work of Hugo Millar who published the first comprehensive history in 1980 (Millar, Hugo B. (1980) The History of Cumbernauld and Kilsyth from Earliest Times. Cumbernauld: Cumbernauld Historical Society. There remain gaps in the historical record and it is likely that there are still significant discoveries to be made – both archaeological and documentary. 


Many buildings of historical interest remain alive (if not always well) in the village and many are much older than they look since they have had 19th century makeovers. In 2010 work began to make repairs to some of these significant buildings and to the conservation area as a whole. This has made very significant improvements to the conservation of the village.

Documenting the Past

Over the coming years we will be collecting photographs past and present  and storing them on the village flickr page.  The above photograph was given to us by Colin Shearer and shows a Women’s Group but we don’t know much about it.  Do you have stories, documents or photographs to share? Are you tracing your family? The Village Community Council is keen to gather together the disparate sources on the history of the village. Perhaps you have family documents, stories or photographs that you could share with us? We would like to create an archive that would supply some of the missing pieces in the history of everyday life in the Village. Please get in touch with us if you would like to be part of that. cnauldvac@gmail.com or contact the Cumbernauld Village facebook page.


© 2013 Cumbernauld Village.