“ The Monklands is the area covering the North Lanarkshire towns of Airdrie and Coatbridge, as well as the surrounding villages. Images provided by www.monklands.com „
Monklands? "What's that?" I hear you ask. Well it is my home area, so please do forgive me if I waffle on a bit when talking about it. The Monklands district lies to the east side of Glasgow, bordering the east end of the city. To the north is the town of Cumbernauld and to the south are the towns of Motherwell and Hamilton. The area known as the Monklands comprises of the industrial towns of Airdrie and Coatbridge (which was the tenth largest town in Scotland at the turn of the century), and a number of small villages. The total landmass of the area is around 64 square miles, and includes a large section of rural North Lanarkshire. Coatbridge (population 43,000) and Airdrie (population 37,000) are both actually a lot bigger, population wise, than many better-known towns such as Motherwell, Stirling, Falkirk and Dumfries. The name 'Monklands' comes from the Monks of the Cistercian Abbey of Newbattle who were gifted the land in 1162. The Monks of Newbattle farmed the land extensively, until the time of the Reformation when the whole area passed into private ownership. The name Monklands was officially adopted for the area in the local government reorganisation of 1975, but was dropped officially when the area became part of North Lanarkshire in 1996. Local people do continue to refer to the area as the Monklands though, as they have always done. So, history lesson over, what is the Monklands all about nowadays? Unfortunately the name is probably best remembered for one of the biggest political scandals to hit Scotland in recent years. Monklands District Council became a by-word for corruption and nepotism, from which the area is still recovering. But there is far more to the area than the political scandals - thankfully. Sport and Leisure - There are two senior football clubs in the district. Airdrie is home of Airdrieonians FC, who have sampled varying degrees of success over the years, but are now unfo rtunately in financial trouble from which they may never recover. The other team is the Coatbridge based Albion Rovers - possibly best known through the years as being the WORST team in Scotland! Other notable sporting clubs include Drumpellier Cricket Club, and the Waysiders Rugby Club. Monklands is also home to the largest Ramblers association in Scotland. On the leisure front there is a wide variety of facilities. Both major towns have modern sports centres, with Coatbridge also having a championship class outdoor sports centre. The 'Time Capsule' is one of the largest indoor water parks in Scotland, and attracts visitors form all over the country. The 'Showcase Cinemas' complex is one of the biggest and most modern in Scotland. The Natives - The towns of Airdrie and Coatbridge sit shoulder to shoulder, and it is often confusing for the visitor to know where one stops and the other starts! The people ARE very different though. Personally can always tell the difference between a native of Coatbridge and a native of Airdrie, it's just something in their manner and hard to describe. Both sets of locals are friendly though (but sometimes a bit of local rivalry creeps in!). Obviously they can't ALL be as nice as me, but they do try their hardest ;) Environment - Much of the derelict land which was left behind after the decline of the steel, brick and mining industries has now been transformed into land for new industry, forestry and agricultural areas, and public parks and playing fields. The area along the route of the Monkland Canal (the only canal in Scotland ever to actually make a profit!) has recently been transformed into a heritage trail, which makes for an excellent and extremely interesting walking route. Drumpellier Country Park attracts visitors from all over Central Scotland, and with its twin lochs, golf course and visitor centre makes for a great day out. Commerce - Two major town centres within such c lose proximity to one another, and so close to Glasgow, seems to be a mixed blessing for the area. Both town centres are small enough to be able to sustain traditional local retailers, which is something I am always delighted to see. On the other hand though, we don't have any of the major chain stores like M&S or Littlewoods. Both towns do have retail parks close to the town centre though, and a wide selection of supermarkets. Most items are available locally, so we don't do too badly there. Industry - The Monklands unfortunately is no longer the hub of industry that it once was. The decline of the steel industry in particular had a devastating effect on the area, but local enterprise schemes have ensured the growth of a number of smaller industries in the area. The ideal positioning of the area on the M8 corridor and close to the other major motorway, the M73 makes it an excellent base for all sorts of businesses. Some of the well known ones include the Lees Confectionary company (famous for their macaroon bars - yummy!), MacKinnon of Scotland (knitwear), William Lawson's Distillery and a Container Base and Freightliner Terminal which serves almost the whole of Scotland. Museum - Summerlee Heritage Park is billed as 'Scotland's noisiest museum' and has become the main showplace in Scotland for working exhibits of traditional iron, steel and heavy engineering industries. You can also learn how to drive a tramcar! So with all the blurb out of the way I can tell you what I really think of living in this area. Well frankly, I wouldn't really want to live anywhere else. From the side of town where I live, a two minute walk will take me out into the countryside. A ten minute car or train journey will take me the 11 miles into Glasgow City Centre or 40 minutes will have me in Edinburgh. We have most of the facilities that we could ever need right here on our doorstep, and anything that is not here is not too far away . Most of all I feel safe when walking the streets in my town. Crime has never been any more of a problem around here than it is anywhere else, but the figures have fallen drastically over the last ten years or so. I can't remember the last time I heard of someone that I know being a victim of any sort of serious crime. If you want to see a bit of the area there is an excellent photo gallery at www.monklands.com which will show you a bit of where I live - that's always supposing I haven't already bored you to death (I help to run the site and many of the photos are my own work!!). Most of all though, if you are ever near the area do try to drop by - there really is a lot more to Monklands than you might think.