From New Town to New Towns

Across 2017 and 2018 Booked! is going on a tour of Scotland’s New Towns – Cumbernauld, East Kilbride, Irvine, Glenrothes and Livingston. We’ll work with local people and organisations in each area to celebrate and enjoy books, creativity and discussion.

Following the Second World War, the establishment of these new developments in and around (or on top of) existing communities was seen as a way of easing overpopulation in cities, speeding up industrial regeneration, increasing employment and providing green space and clean air. Tens of thousands were rehoused, especially from Glasgow, following marketing campaigns stressing the modern utopian ideals upon which these New Towns had been built and which were reflected in their planning and architecture.

It is a long cry from More’s ‘Utopia’, to the New Towns Bill, but it is not unreasonable to expect that that “Utopia” of 1515 should be translated into practical reality in 1946.Lewis Silken, Minister of Town and Country Planning, 1946

Today these achievements are questioned, investment has focused elsewhere and the New Towns often suffer from their proximity to major urban centres. Legitimate grievances around the concept and delivery of the towns abound; but often so too does a quiet pride in places which many families have called home. These towns are the sites of a modern Scottish internal migration, and like all tales of mass movement they are complex, controversial, challenging and inspiring.

As Edinburgh celebrates 70 years as a Festival City and the New Towns celebrate their own anniversaries – not least the passing of the New Towns Act 70 years ago – we’re keen to hear their stories, to learn about life – good and bad – in the New Towns; to celebrate what makes them special and think about what their futures hold. We also want to connect with readers and non-readers alike who, for whatever reason, may not have been able or willing to attend the Book Festival in Edinburgh before.

A heart, a centre for people. Not shops but a square or space. An obvious place for people to gather. This would help it thrive. A town needs a space or square or even building to be proud of.A response to our Cumbernauld survey

Details of each project will be announced on this blog in due course, and you can already get involved with the planning for our sojourn to Cumbernauld by filling in our survey; follow this link to do so: bit.ly/Cnauld.

We hope to see you in your nearest New Town soon for fantastic Book Festival events and activities. In the meantime, why not share with us your own memories of these places, or if you’re from elsewhere, tell us what home means to you, and how you’d celebrate or change the place you’re from? Leave your comments below.

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