Plains () is a village (pop. 2291) situated 2 miles east of the town of Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, between Scotland's two largest cities: Glasgow and Edinburgh, being approximately one third of the distance from Glasgow (14 miles) to Edinburgh (30 miles) along the A89 road. Plains and Airdrie form part of the eastern periphery of the Greater Glasgow metropolitan area.
There is no known association to any other place called Plains. But in 1976, newly elected US President Jimmy Carter (of Plains, Georgia) received a congratulatory telegram from Plains newsagent - also Jimmy Carter. Thus the family "the Carters of Plains" were featured in the Scottish national tabloid, The Daily Record.
The Main Street (the A89) runs in a straight line for about 1 mile east to west. Almost all of the residential housing of the village lies on the northern side of Main St., forming a roughly square shape (1 mile each side). To the south of Main St., the valley drops more steeply down to the North Calder then steeply up the other side which is home to the parkland Easter Moffat golf course.
The Plains lies at around 500 ft above sea level. From nearby Airdriehill, there is a wide vista to the west across the urbanised lower Clyde valley. Beyond, on a clear day, it is possible to see Ben Lomond and the Isle of Arran.
To the south east of The Plains, the land rises to almost 1000 feet - the highest land in the narrow isthmus across central Scotland - Scotland's "Continental Divide". Consequently, the area was chosen as the location for Scotland's first television transmitting stations. The Black Hill Transmitter, at 1000 ft tall, is a very prominent local landmark. It began broadcasting independent Scottish Television services in August, 1957. Nearby, but not so tall or prominent, is Kirk o'Shotts transmitter mast which broadcast Scotland's first BBC television signals in March, 1952.
Late 20th century expansion of the village has been to the north of the A89 road in separate developments of local government or Council houses, consisting of blocks of terraced houses. Originally planned as affordable, rented accommodations for the predominantly working class population, a large percentage have become owner occupied in recent years. At the beginning of the 21st century, a new development of relatively large, detached houses was established in the north-east corner of the village.
There is no significant single employer within the village. During the last decades of the 20th Century the main employers were the Geest Company and Beechams.
Geest occupied a site in the middle of the village, South towards the railway, and was involved in the receipt and packaging of fruit for distribution throughout the country. This led to the local description of the facility as the "Banana Factory". Children of employees and outsiders, when enquiring as to what went on within the unit, were told that "they bent bananas!" The site is now a timber yard managed by a company called Rowan Timber.
The Beecham site was a warehouse and distribution facility employing a number of local drivers and located adjacent to Geest Bananas. Such were the distinctive markings and colourings (red and yellow) of the trucks they used, it was a common site to see "Looki Vans" parked outside the drivers' homes. "Looki" being of course a reference to one of the main products distributed from and marketed on the vans - Lucozade. The warehouse was recently demolished and the site is to be developed for additional housing.
The Plains was not entirely an Irish enclave: at least until the 1980's there were families with ancestry from Holland and France , as well as many Scotttish Protestant families who lived there. Historians of the Scottish mining industry often noted that, (compared to Wales for instance) the Scottish mining work-force was multinational, and The Plains demonstrated this. On a point of interest, no parades by the Orange Order are allowed to pass through the village: on the contrary, children of the village are known to have congregated on the main street to throw missiles at passing buses conveying Orangemen to sectarian demonstrations in Glasgow and other parts of Lanarkshire. This is highly unlikely to change despite the influx of outsiders who are non-Catholic and the dwindling numbers of practicing Catholics attending Mass.
The village church, St. David's, was established in 1897 and rebuilt in 1994. It serves a congregation of approximately 1800. St. David's is part of the Diocese of Motherwell.
Other Christian worship takes place at the Elim Gospel Hall, in Clarkson Parish Church, one kilometre west of the village and at Plains Evangelical Church. What is now Plains Evangelical Church, a thriving non-denominational independent church was begun by Mr Robert McCracken in 1900. The work of the evangelical churches in The Plains has always been appreciated, although the population seem to remain either ignorant or needless of their assistance. St David's Catholic church is where most religious Plainsmen choose to worship, if they worship at all.
There are two state schools: St David's Primary (Catholic) and Plains Primary (Non-denominational). St David's had a school roll of 155 (2006-2007. In the same year Plains Primary looked after 71 pupils. In 2006,work began on a new building to be constructed in the centre of the village to house both schools. However, as of July 2007 it is still not complete
The Sustrans path passes near to Plains Countryside Park - a local picnic area overlooking the North Calder stream. In the mid to late 20th century, this was the site of the annual Plains summer gala (Gala Day) - a day of parades, children's sports events and entertainment - a tradition typical of villages in the area. In Plains the custom is now defunct although it continues in many neighbouring communities to the east such as Harthill, Whitburn and Armadale.
The village was briefly the host to one of the stranger 'celebrity' hangouts in the UK. Following a request by River Phoenix, then promoting one of his last movies, to visit somewhere 'authentic' the Plains based limo driver to him to Jack's Bar in the town, where he stood his round. Subsequently several Hollywood stars (often promoting films ostensibly about Scottish subjects, but filmed elsewhere) dropped by, as the pub was only slightly off the route between Glasgow Airport, then host to Scotland's only transatlantic connection, and Edinburgh. The practice stopped after a few years when Edinburgh got its own New York flight and the pub itself closed in 1999. Other celebrities believed to have visited the village include David Soul (joined on at least one occasion by Antonio Fargas), John Hurt and Emilio Estevez. Whilst all of this is considered in some circles as speculation, David Soul was known to have a set make-up artist or hairdresser who had, at the time of Starsky and Hutch, relatives who lived in the village.
There is a local saying in The Plains that it attracts mad men and mad dogs. In the 1970's it featured in a national magazine as having the highest crime rate per head of the population in Britain.
I have never heard such clap trap about film celebrities visiting "The Plains". Being a resident here for all of my life(66years) and as a regular user of "Jacks Bar" I have yet to meet any of the mentioned stars. Plus the local Gala Day was not hosted in the Countryside park, but on a field south of the Calder Water. Being one of the people who help start the "Park" then I know all about it.