John / Cumbernauld Town Centre - Chris Leslie

John

I’ve lived in Cumbernauld since 1974. My first memories was way back when we first started coming to Cumbernauld, way back in 1969, before my father got the job down here – that was the old Town Centre along where the police station is now. We actually saw this part of the Town Centre getting built. We didn’t really bother about it. It was just another big scheme. Because at that time, they were starting to build the houses in the Greenfaulds area and other areas for expansion. We never really paid much attention to it until we found out that it was going to be a large shopping centre.

I remember seeing the progress of the shops that were starting to appear. The likes of the old Galbraith’s shop, which was a supermarket, and then the hardware store, the Scan bookshop and all the little cafes. The old Wimpy bar. I saw all these wee things appearing. Everybody had a favourite: and it was the Wimpy as usual.

When I first started work, I worked for the old CDC, the Cumbernauld Development Corporation, working in the landscape. Planting and beautifying the Town Centre and surrounding areas. The two onion bowls that originally were at the end of the Town Centre (that’s the shape of the flowerbeds, we used to call them the onion bowls) were always nice. And leading down to Cumbernauld Village was always nicely planted. All the other roundabouts all nicely planted. It made the place look presentable.

They’ve grassed a lot over, as you’ve probably seen when you came into the Town Centre yourself. They’ve got these yellow chevrons up which are supposed to be waves. That was the original concept, but they never look like waves. If that was all planted with plants, some hardy shrubs, they’d get folk something to look forward to coming to instead of this bleak landscape.

There’s a lot more community spirit now. Before, there was a community spirit in the various areas but now everybody seems to be working together for a common aim.

You’ve got various groups which have opened up; the likes of this hub here, which I’ve been myself really, really thankful for. And the socialising as well, a coffee and a chat, not only through the hub, but through other groups as well.

Carol / Cumbernauld Town Centre - Chris Leslie

Carol

My mum and a lot of the other ladies ended up very depressed when they came to Cumbernauld. My mum was on Valium for years. Because they came out here and they knew no one. There was nothing, there was no shops, there was nothing. Vans would come round most days and you could buy a tin of beans if you’d run out of something like that.

They would go into Glasgow once a week and do their shopping and come back on the bus. There was only one bus every two hours, so it was very isolating.

We moved from Glasgow because we wanted to have our own bathroom and not have to go to my granny’s. Oh, the house was amazing! It was so large. And my sister and I both had our own bedrooms and my mum and dad had a bedroom. We couldn’t get over that we had our own garden. It was amazing.

At the beginning, the Town Centre wasn’t built, it wasn’t there. But it all came very, very slowly. Our first visit was a Sunday afternoon. And we walked up. We only lived just across from here and we walked over to it and we looked in Kays. That was the name of the ironmongery shop, Kays. That was the first shop that opened.

And then shortly after that the Co-op came and then Presto, which was along the front, which changed hands many times. It was great when Presto came from my mum’s point of view because she didn’t have to go into Glasgow any more to do proper shopping. And after that, when it filled up, it was fabulous. We loved it.

As a child, when it was being built, we used to go up onto the top floors because there were all these little tunnels. And we used to play up there. That’s what we did on a Saturday afternoon. My friends and I would all go up to this part at the top of the Town Centre and just play chases. It was so narrow but because we were little, we were only about ten or eleven, we could squeeze through all these wee ways and pull ourselves up all these wee narrow passages. And then somebody would go up and you’d say: ‘No, it’s too dark, we need to back down again!’ Or: ‘I can hear the watchman. He’s going to catch us. Right, everybody back down again!’ You’d all scoot back down. It was very much a work in progress at that point. There was lots of holes in the floor and wood lying about, nails. You’d never be allowed that nowadays.

It started off as something totally new. There was nowhere else like it in the country, and it was really exciting. But it just hasn’t worked out. Unfortunately. I’m sad to say.

It’s always had leaks through all of the roofs. Everywhere you go there are buckets and basins catching all the leaks.

I would love to go out there and see all those little shops; but the shoe shops, the wee individual ladies dress shops have all gone. There’s nothing really that would entice people to come round this way at all. It’s just too far in between with nothing. People don’t really know how to get from one side to the next side. And there doesn’t seem to be any purpose to the walkways any more.

There’s very few people that want to keep the building. Very few. I think ninety-eight per cent of Cumbernauld would like it to be levelled. I just think it didn’t work. It didn’t work particularly well even back then. I think I would knock it all down and start again.

Bede / Cumbernauld Town Centre - Chris Leslie

Bede

I’ve been in Cumbernauld for four months. I stay at North Carbrain with my wife and newborn baby. This my third time of coming to the Town Centre. Before then, I would just pass by, probably in a car or commuting, and I’d be like, ‘What’s this place? What’s this gigantic building?’ And eventually, when I got in, I was wowed by what I saw. Different shops, different stores, and a lot of activities happening. It has multi-levels; ground floor, first floor, second floor. It’s more like a centre of attraction for Cumbernauld. It’s a wonderful place.

You wouldn’t believe that the building, the outside building, hosts this kind of amazing facility within it. So, for me, it’s a treasure.

For me, the outside, it’s not so appealing. It’s not something you’re attracted to initially, except to have a need to go in. And then when you go in, you find out for yourself that it’s actually a beautiful place.

I’m here today to go to the Cumbernauld hub. Other times I’ve come for shopping, other times I’ve come to the pharmacy. And one other time I just came to look around and to feel the environment and the atmosphere and just feel good about it.

An ideal town centre, I think, should have some historical relic within it or cultural artifacts, something that depicts the people, the community that it’s been built for. Something that would depict what Cumbernauld is known for historically. It shouldn’t all be modern style kind of architecture.

Caroline / Cumbernauld Town Centre - Chris Leslie

Caroline

I feel that connection with the Town Centre. I love it. There is something that’s just so intriguing about it, even though it’s deemed ugly and horrible and damp and cold.

I love the Penthouse area. That’s my favourite part. I love that you see it from a distance. You can see it coming up the hill to the Town Centre from where I live. It’s the first thing you really see at the roundabout, at the bridge. It just stands out. It’s so unique and different. It’s just there and nobody knows what it is. They’re like, ‘Why is that there?’ This big spaceship-looking thing. It’s the windows. I think it is one of the most unique things about the Town Centre, because it was one of the only town centres that had penthouses built into it. None of the other ones had that. I would love to see it turned into a museum or something. I think it represents the craziness of the architects that designed this and their plans.

A lot of people have grown up with the Town Centre. People older than me have grown up with actually seeing it getting built. They feel kind of connected to it, like it’s part of their lives.

I feel like we do create connections with buildings the same way we create connections with people and places and things.

Kirkland / Cumbernauld Town Centre - Chris Leslie

Kirkland

I was raised in Cumbernauld in Craigieburn Road, which is just down the street from here. I’ve lived in Cumbernauld for most of my life and then I moved away but I still work here part time in the library and I write about the place as well.

The Town Centre was pretty much our playgroup back in the eighties and nineties. It was like a big play den. The Town Centre had a lot of space and a lot of corridors that led nowhere and areas that had just been left almost forgotten. And that’s where all the kids just ran about running wild.

I spent a lot of my time at the library upstairs, which is funny because I got a job there eventually. If your mum can’t afford a babysitter she sent you to the library: ‘Get to the library, son!’ I ended up spending all my time there and my friends would come up. Now the library in those days would close at nine o’clock whereas now it’s seven o’clock, and it was easily accessible. You had lifts, you had ramps, you had escalators. You don’t really have a lot of that anymore. It’s not as easy to get up to, and, if the lifts aren’t working, it’s almost impossible. Back then the Town Centre was easier to navigate.

The third level (where the library is housed) was a lot busier back when I was a child because it was easier to get to and people lived on the top floor so they could come down and use the library. The old Cumbernauld News used to be on the third floor and there were shops as well so people had a reason to go up to the third floor. Not really anymore.

I’m one of the people that feels the Town Centre should be knocked down now which I wouldn’t have said a few years ago. I was one of the people that was saying, ‘No, we’ve got to preserve it.’ But now, I think it’s too late.

The fact that it’s ugly, doesn’t bother me. I love its ugliness; that was what appealed to me. I don’t think I personally could come from anywhere other than Cumbernauld. And this building, growing up in the shadow of it, informed a lot of my personality in a lot of weird ways.

But the main thing that I remember about the Town Centre is the library because it was my favourite place in the world and I’m still there. Except this time I’m behind the counter, not in front of it. I’m going behind the scenes to the areas that the librarians used to go through and I wasn’t allowed as a child. Now it’s my own little playground in a sense.

Eva / Cumbernauld Town Centre - Chris Leslie

Eva

I used to hang about here when I was like thirteen, fourteen. I always got into trouble. There was one point where the police would always be here. It was just from all the kids winding up the security guards. It was mostly the boys. They’d be really loud. They would just go wild. People would kick on the metal shutter so it would make a lot of noise. People would use vapes or smoke so that it would set off an alarm. The security guards would speak on the tannoy and be like, ‘Stop smoking!’ And when they would come down people would just scream abuse at them and then run away. It was just to get a reaction, I think. Because it would be fun. It would be like a chase.

I first came here when I was out somewhere else drinking. And everyone was like, ‘It’s freezing, I’m so cold!’

Someone said, ‘Shall we just go up to the Town Centre?’ And we were like, ‘Oh we could just stay here.’ And someone brought a speaker and started blasting music.

We would just come back whenever it was cold or there was nothing to do. Everyone knew everyone. It was quite a lot of people. Sometimes maybe twenty or thirty.

If I was hungry I’d go to McDonald’s or Tesco or something like that. But mainly when I hung about here I would just drink. We used to get buses to town and back, just because we were all cold and we didn’t have anywhere to go.

If we were lucky someone would have their house. But that was like once in a blue moon that it would happen. We weren’t so cold and so we didn’t get in trouble. Because we just got in trouble all the time and it was just getting boring.

I’m glad I’ve got away from it. Because it wasn’t the best. They all weren’t very good pals. See now whenever I come here to get a bus I need to just avoid them all.

I think a lot of people avoid it now, because of all the young people just causing havoc. So it’s kinda just ruined it for everyone. It’s just ruined it for everyone.

When it’s demolished it would feel really empty. It would make Cumbernauld feel really empty. And it’s been here for so long as well. I like the difference between the old side and the new side – it shows how style and all that’s changed. So I think it would be sad to see it go but I don’t have any connection to it. It would just feel like it would be missing. Like we were missing something.

Iain / Cumbernauld Town Centre - Chris Leslie

Iain Bryce, Founder of the Cumbernauld 70s Gang Facebook group

I went to Cumbernauld High School from 1964 to 1970. When we were younger we went about in a big group of pals. Probably most people did that. And we got together for a school reunion. Basically, we had lots of great memories of growing up here. The whole town, it was nice and new and fresh and clean. And the Town Centre was a focal part of that.

So we just started up this wee group. We had some old photographs. I used to take photographs galore when I was young. Always have done. It was quite funny to see all the long hair and the styles at the time. So that was the start. I made it a public group.

If people wanted to join in then I just let them. There’s no great rules to the group. It’s basically just about memories.

We’re up to about six and a half thousand members. We get people joining all the time. It’s not really about numbers. It’s a lot of likeminded people. There’s quite a spread. The half generation below me is predominant. And there’s children of our era as well. Because obviously they’re seeing what their mum and dad’s got up to.

But there’s been a quite a few posts where folk have actually found each other after years of separation. You know, like friends finding each other.

My best memory of growing up in Cumbernauld? Oh, god, there are millions. It’s so hard to say. It’s probably the freshness of the town combined with the access of the countryside. Because it was on your doorstep. And I was part of both. I was lucky. Very lucky.

The seventies was the best time, definitely. That’s why the group’s called the 70s Gang. Growing up in the seventies, we were starting to get some money in our pocket. Everybody had a job. There was brilliant music. We’d just had the Beatles revolution and prog rock and all the rest of it. So, there was lots of good things on the go. The centre was full. There was loads to do. Aye. It was iconic. It was nice. It was good. Loved it.