Glenrothes is a former new town situated in the heart of Fife, in east central Scotland. It was established in 1948 under the New Towns (Scotland) Act 1946. Since then it has become the administrative capital of Fife containing both the Fife Council and Fife Constabulary headquarters. It is also been successful in attracting a high number of modern industrial companies such as Raytheon Systems to the town .
In 2006 it had a population of 38,927 making it the third most populated town in Fife. The Glenrothes conurbation, which includes the surrounding villages of Leslie, Markinch, Thornton and Coaltown of Balgonie has a population of 47,359 . Glenrothes is now the largest employment centre in the county.
The town boasts well-tended parks and landscaping, which has seen it win awards for the Best Kept Large Town in Scotland, and the most Clean, Sustainable and Beautiful Community in Scotland .
Glenrothes also contains a plethora of sculptures and artworks and the Kingdom Shopping Centre -one of Scotland's largest indoor shopping malls. A variety of religious and educational institutions operate in Glenrothes and the town has good transport links with the rest of Scotland.
The land was sub-divided into areas or "precincts" which were named after the hamlets already established (e.g. Woodside, Cadham), the farms which once occupied the land (e.g. Rimbleton, Caskieberran, Collydean) or historical stately homes in the area (e.g. Balgeddie, Balbirnie, Leslie Parks).
The primary reason for the designation of Glenrothes was to house miners who where to work at a new super coal mine. This was to be the most modern of the day and was built west of Thornton, an established village south of Glenrothes. The Super Pit was named the Rothes Colliery and it was officially opened by the Queen in 1957. About 5,000 miners were to be required to produce 5,000 tonnes of coal per day, and huge railway yards were established. The pit was to have a working life of 100 years. The planned long-term benefits were to be huge, and the driver for economic regeneration for central Fife. At its peak the Rothes Colliery employed over 1,500 miners. In 1961, 4 years after opening, the huge investment was written off and the mine closed as a result of un-stemmable flooding and geological problems. Ironically, miners who'd worked in older deep pits in the area had fore-warned against the development of the Rothes Pit for this very reason. The closure of the state-of-the art facility left the huge enclosed concrete wheel-towers standing at Thornton for many years as a forlorn symbol of what could have been.
Originally the main industry in the Glenrothes area was paper-making (Tullis-Russell and the other mills along the Leven Valley) and coal mining. Unlike East Kilbride, Cumbernauld or Livingston Glenrothes was not originally to be a Glasgow overspill new town, although it did later take this role. It was however populated in the early 1950s in large part by mining families moving from the West of Scotland, particularly the Glasgow area, though many re-settled from the declining Lothian coalfields too.
The pit's closure was devastating and further development of Glenrothes was almost stopped. The pit's closure did help change the fortunes of the town for the better. Central Government changed the town's role and appointed Glenrothes as one of the economic focal points for Central Scotland. The Glenrothes Development Corporation were successful in attracting a plethora of modern electronics factories to the town. The first big overseas electronic investor was Beckmans Instruments in 1959 followed by Hughes Industries in the early 1960s. A number of other important companies followed establishing Glenrothes as a major hub in Scotland's Silicon Glen.
A further boost to the town during the 1970s saw it become the centre of Fife Council's operations. This took the role from Cupar which was formally the County Town of Fife. Fife House (the headquarters of Fife Council) and other Fife Council buildings are situated in Glenrothes' town centre. Fife Constabulary and Scottish Enterprise Fife also have their headquarters in the town. Today Glenrothes is the administrative centre for Fife.
The planning, development, management and promotion of Glenrothes was the responsibility of the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC), a quango appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Fife Council were responsible for implementing the infrastructure in the town such as schools, parks and roads.
The GDC was wound up in 1995, and was asked to undertake any last major works required in the town with the aid of a grant. The Leven Bridge crossing Riverside Park and the Kingdom Centre Phase 4, including the Rothes Halls were some of the last major projects undertaken. Property and assets of the town were either sold off to private companies or passed onto the responsibility of Fife Council. The winding up of the GDC meant that Glenrothes was no longer designated a new town. Development and management of the town would now be undertaken by Fife Council. The development corporation left its lasting legacy on the town by overseeing the development of 15,378 houses, 480,692 square metres of industrial floorspace, 68,328 square metres of office floorspace and 53,603 square metres of shopping floorspace by 31 December 1995.
Glenrothes is today considered a clean, generally well maintained and quietly successful modern town. While much of the townscape consists of unexceptional 20th century developments, Glenrothes has many surprises. Early residential areas of Glenrothes present some of the best examples of post war social housing, two of which won Saltire Society Awards. Three of the towns earliest churches, St. Margaret's, St. Paul's and St. Columba's, are now listed buildings.
The historical stately homes, Balbirnie House, Leslie House and Balgeddie House are all located in Glenrothes. Balbirnie House, former home of the Balfour family, was occupied by the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC) between 1981 until its wind up in 1996. The grounds of the mansion house were bought and developed in 1969 by the GDC to become Balbirnie Park and golf course. The former stable block of the house has been developed as the Balbirnie craft centre and Balbirnie House itself is now a luxury hotel. Balgeddie House, located in the northwest of the town, has also been converted into a high quality hotel.
Leslie House, former home of the Rothes family, was once an eventide home owned by the Church of Scotland and most recently is set to become luxury apartments. Much of the former grounds of Leslie House have been used to create Riverside Park. Collydean precinct hosts a ruin of a 17th-century laird's house called Pitcairn House.
Glenrothes was the first Scottish new town to appoint a town artist in 1968. Today, as a result, there is a large variety of artworks and sculptures scattered throughout the town (around 132) made from a variety of materials such as bronze, fibre glass, bricks, sandstone and concrete. The sculptures range from giant flowers, giant hands, a dinosaur, toadstools, the Good Samaritan, a horse & chariot, dancing children, a seated old couple, crocodiles and marching Hippos.
Landscaping in Glenrothes often leaves the impression that many of the housing areas have been built in parkland. The town has won awards for the Best Kept Large Town in Scotland, the most Clean, Sustainable and Beautiful Community in Scotland and has twice won the award for the \"Best Kept Town & Village Competition\" in Fife as a result of the high standards of landscaping. Housing has generally been built to high standards, especially when compared to other developments built at the same time in other parts of Scotland. Glenrothes is undoubtably modern however old buildings still exist and have been carefully integrated into the modern fabric of the town. It has been described as leaving the impression of pleasant modernity.
Glenrothes serves a wider area as both a service, employment and retail centre. There are a number of attractive villages surrounding the town each unique in their own respect. The surrounding villages are Markinch, Leslie, Thornton, Coaltown of Balgonie, Star of Markinch, Milton of Balgonie (with Balgonie Castle) and Kinglassie. Slightly further afield are Falkland, Freuchie, Windygates, Kennoway, Muirhead, Auchmuirbridge and Scotlandwell.
Glenrothes lies in mid-Fife between the agricultural Howe of Fife in the north and east and Fife's industrial heartland in the south and west. It is located almost equidistant between the cities of Edinburgh and Dundee (). Its OS Grid reference is NO281015.
The northern parts of the town lie upland on the southern fringes of the Lomond Hills Regional Park. The central parts of the town lie on land between the southern lip of the River Leven Valley, a green lung which passes east west through the town, and the Warout Ridge. Southern parts of Glenrothes are largely industrial and lie on land which gently slopes south towards the Lochty Burn and the village of Thornton. The height above mean sea level at the town centre is 300 feet.
Temperatures in Glenrothes, like the rest of Scotland, are relatively moderate given its northern latitude. Fife is a peninsula, located between the Firth of Tay in the north, the Firth of Forth in the south and the North Sea in the east. Summers are relatively cool and the warming of the water over the summer results in warm winters. Average annual temperatures in Glenrothes range from a max of 18°C to a min of 9°C.
Glenrothes' layout was based on an irregular grid. The first town masterplan set out self-contained residential precincts with their own primary schools, local shops and community facilities. Separating industry as far as possible from housing areas in planned industrial estates was a key element of the plan. This was a step change from the unplanned and polluted industrial towns and cities of the previous centuries where cramped housing and dirty industry were built in close proximity to one another. The idea for Glenrothes was to provide a clean and healthy environment for the town's residents regardless of their social background. "Through traffic" would bypass housing precincts by distributor roads which would connect each precinct to a purposely designed town centre and to the industrial estates. Another element that was adopted was the use of roundabouts at junctions instead of traffic lights allowing traffic to flow freely.
At first Glenrothes developed in a linear fashion starting at Woodside in the east and progressing westwards. Housing was a mixture of low-rise mixed housing and flats. The first masterplan was implemented as far as South Parks and Rimbleton housing precincts.
A second town masterplan was developed in the late 1960s following Glenrothes' change of role and was to accommodate an increased population target of 50,000-70,000. New areas of land in the north and south of the designated area were brought into production for new development. The irregular grid layout was retained however housing precincts were to become less self-contained and would share local facilities in a new neighbourhood centre format. The road network was to be upgraded to deal with projected increases in car ownership. New housing estates were developed in the western, southern and then northern parts of the town. The precincts of the 1960s and 70's, developed under the second masterplan, were based on principles of Radburn, separating as far as possible footpaths from roads. The townscape changed with a mixture of higher densities and new architectural styles.
Housing precincts from the 1980s onwards have largely been developed by the private sector and more reflect today's aspirations of low density suburban living. Most of this housing was developed in the northern parts of the town.
Large portions of land in the south of the town were developed for industrial purposes, largely as a result of the proximity to the proposed East Fife Regional Road (A92) which was developed in 1989 giving dual carriageway access to the main central Scotland road network. The second master plan was used until the wind-up of the Development Corporation in 1995.
Glenrothes came late into high rise development and as a result it has only a single tower block, which is located adjacent to other tall buildings in the town centre. The townscape is largely low rise until the town centre is reached where flats and clusters of taller buildings have been used.
Scotland's Census 2001 showed that Glenrothes has a population of 38,679. The demographic make-up of the population is much in line with the rest of Scotland, with 30-44 year olds forming the largest portion of the population (23%). Despite the aging population in Scotland, Glenrothes has 2% fewer pensioners than the Scottish average.
Recent population estimates show the population of Glenrothes in 2006 to be 38,927 showing a marginal increase compared with the 2001 census figure. The Glenrothes conurbation, which includes adjacent villages supports an estimated 47,359 people. The wider Glenrothes Area including the nearby villages of Star, Kinglassie and Milton of Balgonie supports an estimated population of 50,167.
Over 29% of the population in Glenrothes are in lower managerial and professional occupations which is a substantially higher proportion of people than both the Fife and Scottish averages.
Glenrothes is represented in 4 tiers of Government from European to the local level.
Glenrothes' economy is currently strong with unemployment levels in line with the Scottish average. Glenrothes provides the highest number of jobs (approx 36,000) of any single settlement in Fife This situation is particularly evident when compared to the more deprived towns in the travel to work area, Kirkcaldy and Levenmouth. Employment in Glenrothes is largely concentrated in the town centre and in the industrial estates.
Fife's prominent local authority headquarters building is located at North Street in the town centre. Many of the other council departments are contained in a number of the town centre's office blocks. Fife Constabulary have established their modern headquarters at a site on Detroit Road in Viewfield. Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland share a local office at the Pentland Park, the Inland Revenue also have an office in this business park. These offices account for the higher than average proportion of public administration jobs within the town.
Glenrothes town centre is located on the southern edge of the River Leven Valley. It is bounded by a ring road, has been purposely planned, contains no residential element and is largely enclosed. These are all factors which distinguish it from Fife's other town centres.
The Kingdom Centre forms the main shopping element of the town centre. The shopping mall currently contains over 100 shops as well as a variety of cafes, the town's central library, the Rothes Halls- the town's theatre and a ten pin bowling alley. The town's main bus station is located adjacent to the southeast end of the mall.
Shopping in Glenrothes is to be significantly enhanced in the near future with major expansion of the Kingdom Centre proposed at North Street. A Sainsbury's superstore along with a parade of shops and a new multi-storey car park are proposed as part of the development. Proposals have also been put forward to regenerate older parts of the centre at Albany Gate.
A variety of other premises including a bingo hall, a night club, offices, pubs, bars, restaurants, churches, a hotel, a post office, a vet, dentists, banks and building societies surround the outside of the Kingdom Centre.
The town centre has also been extended at Queensway where retail and leisure outlets have been developed, replacing what was once industry. Land to the north of Queensway will soon be developed into a new shopping park which is to be anchored by ASDA's first Scottish eco-store.
An out of centre retail park has also been built at the Saltire Centre with large bulky goods and out-of-town retailers.
Glenrothes also has a number of neighbourhood shopping centres located at strategic points throughout the town. These contain parades of small shops and a variety of public facilities. The first of these to be built was the Woodside Centre. The Glenwood Centre, the Glamis Centre and the Cadham Centre followed as the town developed.
Employment sites in Glenrothes are concentrated in the south of the town and at sites around the town centre. Each estate has been named, these are: Bankhead, Westwood Park, Eastfield, Pentland Park, Queensway, Southfield, Viewfield and Whitehill. These estates are largely managed by Fife Council and Scottish Enterprise Fife.
The highest proportion of jobs in Glenrothes are in the manufacturing and the public administration sectors. Traditional industries are still existent in the area, with paper manufacturing being one of the town's largest employers. The Tullis Russell plant is the last operational paper manufacturer in Glenrothes following the closure of two smaller plants in the area. The plant is currently in the process of selling its surrounding land to developers in order to fund a biomass powerstation.
Manufacturing accounts for around 20% of employment in Glenrothes and a Silicon Glen background continues to play an important role in Glenrothes' economy. A number of high tech industrial companies are located in Glenrothes largely specialised in electronics and engineering manufacturing.
Glenrothes has historically been successful in attracting a high number of specialist hi-technology firms. Many will not appreciate that a number of innovative new technologies were first manufactered in the town. Hughes Industries, an early pioneer company to establish in Glenrothes, developed guidance systems for the Apollo 11 spacecraft and Rodime, a company established in 1979, pioneered advances in hard drive and floppy disk technology . Pico Electronics Ltd pioneered an early microprocessor from its Glenrothes facility .
Semefab, a company based in Eastfield, is the UK's Primary Centre for the development of Micro Electric Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and Nanotechnology. This is expected to contribute £53 million to the Scottish Economy.
Other major companies in Glenrothes include Brand Rex (fibre optics manufacturing), Velux (roof windows manufacturing), BI Technologies (electronics manufacturing), Compugraphics (photomask development), Regenersis (technology repair services), Bosch Rexroth (hydraulics manufacturing), Phoenix Precision (precision engineering), Micronas (semi-conductor manufacturing), Virgin Media (call centre), Cullen Building Products (construction suppliers), and Amazon.co.uk (online retailer).
There are signs now however that the town's economy is beginning to diversify to service sector and other forms of employment in line with national trends. This is evident with new office developments at Viewfield and Pentland Park and the mix of uses emerging at Queensway and Bankhead.
Landmarks in Glenrothes vary from buildings and bridges to hills, sculptures, churches and henges. The most prominent landmarks in the town include the River Leven Bridge which towers over Riverside Park, the Tullis Russell factory chimneys towering in the east of the town and Raeburn Heights and Fife House which both sit at the western corners of the town centre. These are the most recognisable tall structures in Glenrothes which can be seen from afar.
The Lomond Hills form a natural backdrop to the town when looking north and can be seen from as far away as Edinburgh and the Lothians in the south, and Tayside in the north.
A number of Glenrothes' artworks and sculptures act as landmarks at major gateways into the town, such as the Giant Irises at Leslie Roundabout, and the Glenrothes Gateway Totum at Bankhead Roundabout.
St. Columba's Church, designed by architects Wheeler & Sproson, is an A-listed structure of architectural significance. It also marks an important gateway to the town centre at St. Columba's Roundabout.
There are two other gateway landmarks, located just outside Glenrothes. The B-listed Markinch Railway Viaduct marks the town gateway from Levenmouth in the east. This structure spans the River Leven Valley carrying the main East Coast rail line.
To the west of Glenrothes is the B-listed Cabbagehall Railway Viaduct, which once carried a branch line connecting Leslie to Markinch over the River Leven Valley. This marks a main gateway entrance to Glenrothes from Leslie and now carries a major cycle/footpath, Böblingen Way, connecting Leslie with Glenrothes.
Glenrothes High School has operated a successful school exchange with the Albert Einstein Gymnasium in Böblingen for a number of years.
There are a number of social clubs and organisations operating within Glenrothes which contribute to the cultural and community offerings of the town. These include an art club, various youth clubs, a floral art club, a local theatre company, a choral society and a variety of sports clubs to name but a few.
Glenrothes has a number of well maintained parks at Riverside, Balbirnie, Warout, Gilvenbank, Tanshall, Dovecot, Carleton and Stenton. Around one third of land in Glenrothes has been devoted to the provision of open space. The town boasts good sports facilities with two golf courses (Glenrothes and Balbirnie), a football stadium at Warout and a main sports complex at the Fife Institute (FIPRE).
There are plans to build a new multi-million pound sports centre on the site of the existing Fife Institute by early 2009.
The Rothes Halls complex acts as the civic heart of Glenrothes. It is located in the Kingdom Centre and is used as the town's theatre and its exhibition, conference and civic centre. The flexible nature of the complex means it can cater for a large variety of events. The Stereophonics, Ocean Colour Scene, and Ken Dodd are among some of the well-known acts to have performed there. Plays, an annual beer festival, model railway exhibitions and acts from a number of tribute bands are also some of the many events hosted at Rothes Halls. The town's central library and a cafe also form part of the Rothes Halls complex.
Glenrothes has a weekly newspaper, the "Glenrothes Gazette" which is operated by the Fife Free Press group, and which is published every Wednesday.
Forth One broadcasts from Edinburgh and covers the south Fife area, including Glenrothes. It operates on a wave length of 97.3 MHz(FM). Forth 2 sister station to Forth One operates on a wave length of 1548 kHz (Medium Wave).
Tay FM broadcasts from Dundee and primarily covers the north Fife area, including Glenrothes. It operates on a wave length of 102.8 MHz(FM). Tay AM also broadcasts from Dundee and operates on 1161 kHz (AM)
Famous people include the trumpeter John Wallace, the actor Dougray Scott and Henry McLeish, the former First Minister of Scotland who lived there, having been brought up in neighbouring Kennoway. Glenrothes town centre is home to the building involved in the notorious "Officegate" scandal, which led to McLeish's resignation as First Minister in 2001.
Glenrothes has direct dual-carriageway access to the M90 via the A92 Trunk Road. The A92 passes north/south through the town and connects Glenrothes with Dundee in the north and Edinburgh in the south. The A911 road passes east/west through the town and connects it with Levenmouth in the east and Milnathort and the M90 in the west.
A central bus station is located in Glenrothes Town Centre where Stagecoach operate regular services to adjacent towns and cities. The bus station was designed and constructed by Fife Council in the early 1990's, replacing a smaller, less prominent building. It is located at the southern end of Postgate, adjacent to the Kingdom Centre and has recently undergone a major upgrade with the installation of new electronic timetables and other facilities The Ex-Terra sculpture marks the entrance to the bus station.
The Glenrothes Area contains two train stations. Glenrothes with Thornton railway station is located in the village of Thornton to the south of Glenrothes. It lies on the Fife Circle Line. Markinch railway station is the nearest station to Glenrothes Town Centre (approx ). It lies on the Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line and also has connections to Perth and the Highland Main Line to Inverness. The station has recently been upgraded with a new station building, longer platforms, and park and ride facilities. Regular bus services link the station with Glenrothes and Leven Town Centres.
Edinburgh Airport is the nearest major airport to Glenrothes. It is within a 45-minute drive of the town and has regular flights to London, other UK destinations and beyond. Dundee Airport also, to a lesser extent, operates daily flights to London and is within 40 minutes drive of the town.
Glenrothes is also home to an airfield, Fife Airport (ICAO code EGPJ), which is used by Tayside Aviation to train pilots. The airport is able to accommodate private light aircraft and also contains a small restaurant.
It was originally intended that the airport would serve the industrial areas of the town for transport of key employees to and from Glenrothes and would potentially support flights to London.
Within 20–25 minutes drive is a ferry terminal at Rosyth which has daily links to Zeebrugge, Belgium in mainland Europe.
The John Fergus School, adjacent to Warout Primary, serves children with learning difficulties.
The town also has 3 non-denominational High Schools. The earliest of these is Auchmuty High School which was built in 1957 as a junior secondary school. To continue "Higher" examinations older pupils were required to attend schools in neighbouring towns. Glenwood High School was second to be built in 1962, serving the western precincts of Glenrothes. It too was only built as junior secondary school. It was not until 1966 that Glenrothes High School was opened to accommodate pupils at "Higher" level. However, in the 1970's both Auchmuty and Glenwood were both extended and raised to High School status. Catholic pupils in Glenrothes are served by St. Andrews High School in Kirkcaldy.
Glenrothes also has its own college campus at Stenton Road adjacent to the Fife Institute. Formally Glenrothes College it has recently merged with Fife College in Kirkcaldy to become the Adam Smith College. This is now Scotland's third largest college and has particular strengths in the creative arts and industries, applied technologies and media. The Glenrothes campus is set to be improved in the near future with a new campus being proposed to replace the existing one.
Glenrothes is home to a number of churches. The three earliest are now listed buildings. These are St. Margaret's Church in Woodside (Grade-C listed), St. Paul's RC Church in Auchmuty (Grade-B listed), and St. Columba's Church on Church Street (Grade-A listed) in the town centre. St. Paul's RC was designed by architects Gillespie, Kidd and Coia and has been described as "as the most significant piece of modern church architecture north of the English Channel". In 1993 it was listed as one of sixty key monuments of post-war architecture by the international conservation organisation DoCoMoMo. St. Columba's has recently undergone significant restoration following a successful application for Lottery funding.
Other churches in the town are;
The town also has places of worship for Jehovah's Witnesses and for Muslims.