East Renfrewshire (Siorrachd Rinn Friù an Ear in Gaelic) is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. It is one of three council areas contained within the boundaries of the historic Renfrewshire, the other two being Inverclyde and a more modern Renfrewshire both to the west. The older Renfrewshire still remains in the form of a registration county and lieutenancy area.
The authority was formed in 1996, as a successor to the Eastwood district, along with Barrhead, which came from Renfrew district. It borders onto North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and the City of Glasgow.
The leader of East Renfrewshire Council is Cllr. Jim Fletcher (Labour - Giffnock & Thornliebank) and the Civic Leader is Provost Alex Mackie (Liberal Democrat - Giffnock & Thornliebank). The first provost of East Renfrewshire was Cllr. Allan Cameron Steele MBE JP, serving two terms in the office between 1996 and 2003. Provost Steele's son, also Allan, has attempted to follow in his father's footsteps although with notably less electoral success, suffering defeat in the 1999 council election, 2001 Westminster election and 2003 Scottish parliamentary election.
East Renfrewshire is also a unified Parliamentary Constituency with Jim Murphy MP and Ken Macintosh MSP representing the area in the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments respectively.
A 2001 survey showed that about half of Scotland's Jewish population lives in East Renfrewshire.
In January 2008 East Renfrewshire became the first Scottish local authority to create a Facebook page to publicize its services.
The results of the 2001 census were as follows:
East Renfrewshire is home to many small to medium businesses. The interests of these businesses are looked after by the East Renfrewshire Chamber of Trade & Commerce
The earliest evidence of human activity in the area is traces of an iron-age fort in the Busby area and a pre-Roman settlement in Overlee. These early buildings that predate any maps show the land around would have been suitable for farming, which retained its importance thousands of years later, when the earliest documentation of habituation was of the 230 residents of Muirend in 1435, when the village was surrounded by farmland. The villagers however, were predominantly Irish and worked at the paper mill on the nearby river cart. The farmlands were owned by the Maxwells, a rich and influential family who owned land and important buildings all over Glasgow, growing and building more with each generation, including the building of the local landmark, Pollok House in Pollok Park in C.1700.
Also in the 15th century began the building of Cathcart Castle, completed C.1450 with an impressive view over the landscape in all directions. It was at this castle Mary Queen of Scots supposedly spent the night before her defeat at the Battle of Langside in May of 1568. The Castle was Demolished in 1980 for safety reasons.
The surrounding lands were known collectively under the name “Lee”, but separated into the smaller districts as they are today in 1678, when John Maxwell, owner of the lands was found guilty of assisting the covenanting cause and forced to give up his lands, and his servants were sent as slaves to the West Indies. The area’s around his house were named ‘Williamwood’ after the mansion itself and the lower parts of the lands of ‘Lee’ were adequately renamed ‘Netherlee’.
Clarkston, although the busiest of the modern districts, was the last village to be built, starting in 1793. It expanded rapidly when many of the workers of the Giffnock Quarries (opened in 1835 and whose honey-coloured stones can be found in Glasgow University, Central Station, the old Co-op building on Morrison St, and many buildings world-wide) moved there due to the linking of the two sites by rail in 1866.
Around this time the lands towards Glasgow, (predominantly Netherlee and most of Muirend and Cathcart) remained farmlands, dominated by the massive ‘Bogton’s Farm & Dairy’ building (situated where the supermarket “Somerfield” now stands on Clarkston Rd) owned by John M. Hamilton, dairy farmer and horse enthusiast. The lands to the left of his farm were a training ground for his horses, and his favourite was a Spanish horse by the name of “Toledo”, which cinema builder William Beresford Inglis took as the name of his Toledo Cinema which was built on that spot in 1933. The cinema was closed on 21st October 2001 to make way for 30 new 2 bedroom flats, but the art-deco façade was kept and restored.
The building of the cinema was in response to the need for entertainment in the area, which had since grown to a population of around 4,000. New stone residential buildings had been built over the period of 15years due to resource shortage during the war, the last house not being finished until 1925, at first being used to house evacuees during WW1.
In 1941, Rudolf Hess, one of Adolf Hitler's top deputies within the Nazi Party, parachuted into a field near Eaglesham on a secret mission to meet the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon for peace negotiations. The botched landing led to his capture and arrest.
Growth continued slowly during the second half of the 20th century, however tragedy struck when at around 3pm on October 21, 1971, a huge gas explosion tore out the heart of the Clarkston shopping area. The blast killed 20, and injured more than 100, as the blast caught a passing bus and forced the upper-level car park to collapse. A plaque mourning the event can be found at the entrance to the train station, together with an anniversary plaque and tree in the car park of nearby Clarkston Library/Halls.
East Renfrewshire has a strong legacy in education and in 2007, St. Mark's RC Primary in Barrhead received an outstanding HMIe report with 11 'excellents', making St. Mark's the highest ranked school in Scotland. The second highest ranked school in Scotland is also in East Renfrewshire; Our Lady of the Missions Primary School in Giffnock achieved nine "excellents" in its HMIE report in October 2006.