Is this your Glenrothes?

‘It should either be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or completely destroyed.’

We’ve been asking past and present residents of Glenrothes to share their feelings on the town and their lives in it, as well as their hopes and fears for the future, as we prepare to head to Fife for the next leg of our ReimagiNation tour of Scotland’s New Towns.

Read on below for a selection of their responses so far, which range from the scathing to the celebratory. If their comments get you feeling fired up, if you want to sing the praises of your town, or condemn it, you can sign up to take part in a story-sharing project led by historian and writer Daniel Gray, running for 6 weeks from mid-February in Glenrothes.

All responses will be used to shape the ReimagiNation festival at the Rothes Halls in May 2018, with a special debate on the past and future of the town offering the perfect chance to make your voice heard. Full details announced in February.

No changes have been made to comments except in correcting errors.

Please share with us some words, thoughts or stories about your experience of life in the community.

  • ‘Glenrothes is run down and miserable. There isn’t much that is nice about it.’
  • ‘Lots of lovely open spaces inhabited by wildlife. Fun town art.’
  • ‘There is not enough things for teenagers to do.’
  • ‘The town itself has lots of greenery and flowers which are well maintained. There are lots of pleasant walks and paths linking up different parts of the town. The town park is an asset.’
  • ‘Glenrothes has no communal spaces, people don’t have many places to meet new people other than in the pub.’
  • ‘A lot of negatives about Glenrothes. It’s a forgotten “New Town”. A lot of closed businesses, not enough socially for people to do. Events such as a book festival are very welcome in Glenrothes. The town needs rejuvenated.’
  • ‘My thoughts about Glenrothes were always pretty negative (I refer to it too often as Glen-rotten) but as I’ve matured I’ve learned to reflect more fondly, and found that the town of concrete hippos and mushrooms and Böblingen Way actually meant more to me and crawled into my psyche much more than I realised being younger.’
  • ‘Some really dedicated people leading local clubs and groups and making a positive contribution set against the loss of a lot of manufacturing jobs and problems with deprivation and drug addiction.’
  • ‘Glenrothes is an archetypal 20th century new town that is struggling in the 21st century. It should either be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site or completely destroyed.’
  • ‘I lived in Glenrothes from 1957 – 1962, when there was only the Woodside and Auchmuty districts in existence. We were very grateful for the District Heating scheme which gave us central heating and constant hot water. It was heaven after our cold house in Inverness!’
  • ‘Like all of Fife the people make the place friendly and kind.’
  • ‘Unfortunately, the closure of most manufacturing businesses, and recently the paper mills, has seen the decline of the town and the community in general. It’s a beautiful town and sad to see this. I feel that any improvement has to come from the people and for this, they must be given a sense of pride in Glenrothes. We need to create some kind of community spirit again instead of constant criticism.’

What one thing would you alter about Glenrothes or your life there?

  • ‘Everything! It’s an urban planning disaster.’
  • ‘If I was born again I wouldn’t move here.’
  • ‘Lack of community projects for kids.’
  • ‘More resources would go into helping residents.’
  • ‘If I were to go back there in the 1970s Id take thousands of photographs. It was still a “new town” presenting modernism and opportunity, which is why my parents went there.’
  • ‘More book festivals!’
  • ‘Regeneration of the Kingdom Centre.’
  • ‘Wouldn’t change a thing about my life there during the 70s and 80s.’
  • ‘It perhaps lacks inspiring architecture to give it an identity though you could say that for many towns . It’s people that make a difference.’
  • ‘Nothing. Fond memories of it being a huge adventure playground.’
  • ‘Bring back Crytals Ice Rink!’
  • ‘Its image as a place with “nothing to do”. If you look there is plenty life in the area.’
  • ‘It is the highest area of Fife for economic deprivation so I would wish that people who are struggling could get opportunities to get out of the poverty trap.’

Imagine you are helping to develop another New Town being built today. Can you list anything you would take from Glenrothes to be used in the design of this New Town? What does a community need in order to thrive?

  • ‘Proper centre. That’s the problem with all of the new towns. A shopping mall does not engender community in the same way a High Street does.’
  • ‘How it values the need for nature to be interwoven around buildings which gives the people living here a feeling of well being. Containing the extent of the building work as it is not healthy to swamp other nearby smaller villages.’
  • ‘To be honest, I don’t think Glenrothes could be used as a good example for another New Town. This, of course, is in the nature of new towns. I think much more money should be spent on resources, e.g. libraries, galleries, theatres, cinemas, etc. More money should go into the infrastructure.’
  • ‘The well maintained parks and amenities. It needs a heart and more community spaces.’
  • ‘No – learn from their mistakes and go out and ask for public views.’
  • ‘It needs good schooling and investment in job opportunities and entertainment facilities. The architecture is atrocious. These new towns are a complete disaster with no community spirit. I would take everything from the design of Glenrothes put it in the bin and start again. I would never choose to live in any of the new towns.’
  • ‘A community needs to connect with its history too. All the smaller villages and their histories need to be important too. The most important thing is involving the people who live there and have strong connections through work or family to have input too.’
  • ‘Glenrothes has discreet areas and the community spirit is strong in these places. I think that is a good thing.’
  • ‘Individuals need to feel a part of something and to take a pride and some responsibility in making the town a better place.’
  • ‘I’d also encourage community assistive working, whereby skills and talents within an area are shared and recognised by means of community banking of hours given in “community service”.’

Share your story

Before ReimagiNation comes to Glenrothes, we want to know more about the town and the people who live there. You can help us by answering a few questions - every respondent will be entered in to a prize draw too!

Take the survey

Thanks for your input - we hope to see you in Glenrothes in May 2018!

Click here

Top image: By Mcwesty at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia by Ronhjones) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Bottom image: By Mcwesty (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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