Coatbridge facts for kids
Coatbridge town centre
|Coatbridge shown within North Lanarkshire|
|Area||6.818 sq mi (17.66 km2)|
|Population||41,170 (2001 Census)|
|• Density||6,038/sq mi (2,331/km2)|
|OS grid reference|
|• Edinburgh||33 mi (53 km) ENE|
|• London||341 mi (549 km) SSE|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Coatbridge (Scots: Cotbrig or Coatbrig, Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid a' Chòta) is a town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, about 10 miles (16 km) east of Glasgow city centre, set in the central Lowlands. The town, with neighbouring Airdrie, is part of the Greater Glasgow urban area. While the earliest known settlement of the area dates back to the Stone Age era, the founding of the town can be traced to the 12th century when a Royal Charter was granted to the Monks of Newbattle Abbey by King Malcolm IV. Coatbridge, along with its neighbour Airdrie, forms the area known as the Monklands.
It was during the last years of the 18th century that the area developed from a loose collection of hamlets into the town of Coatbridge. The town's development and growth have been intimately connected with the technological advances of the industrial revolution, and in particular with the hot blast process. Coatbridge was a major Scottish centre for iron works and coal mining during the 19th century and in this period was described as 'the industrial heartland of Scotland' and the 'Iron Burgh'.
Coatbridge also had a notorious reputation for air pollution and the worst excesses of industry. By the time of the 1920s however, coal seams were exhausted and the iron industry in Coatbridge was in rapid decline. After the Great Depression the Gartsherrie ironwork was the last remaining iron works in the town. One publication has commented that in modern-day Coatbridge 'coal, iron and steel have all been consigned to the heritage scrap heap'.
- Coat of arms
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There are various explanations for the origin of the town's name. The place name Coatbridge first appears on a number of 19th century maps, although Roy's 1750 map notes 'Cottbrig' as a hamlet in the Old Monkland area. Older Scots 'Cot(t)' (cottage) and 'brig' (bridge). (This reflected in the way locals refer to the town or its centre as 'The Brig': "I'm just going up the Brig.") One source states 'Coatbridge' is either derived from the Middle English 'cote', (cottage) or from the Old Welsh 'coed' meaning 'wood'.
An alternative explanation is that from around the 13th century the local area was owned by the Colt family, sometimes known as Coats, and their estate generated place-names such as Coatbridge, Coatdyke, Coathill and Coatbank. Drummond and Smith suggest the name derives from the granting of land to Ranulphus le Colt around the time of the 12th century. However, Early Scots /ol/ had vocalized to /o̞u/ by the 16th century and subsequently diphthongised to /ʌu/ in Modern Scots, so that 'Colt' would have become 'Cowt' rather than 'Coat'. Modern Scots 'Cot' (cottage) is realized /kot/.
Early history: from Bronze Age to Middle Ages
Settlement of the Coatbridge area dates back 3000 years to the Mesolithic Age. A circle of Bronze Age stone coffins was found on the Drumpellier estate in 1852. A number of other Bronze Age urns and relics have been found in Coatbridge. An Iron Age wood and thatch crannóg dwelling was sited in the Loch at the present day Drumpellier Country Park. Dependent upon the water level in the loch, the remains can still be seen today.
Roman coins have been unearthed in Coatbridge, and there are the remains of a Roman road on the fringes of the town near the M8 motorway.
Middle Ages to late 18th century
The 'Monklands' area inherited its name after the area was granted to the Cistercian monks of Newbattle Abbey by King Malcolm IV in 1162. 1n 1323 the Monklands name appeared for the first time on Stewards' charter. The Monks mined coal and farmed the land until the time of the reformation when the land was taken from them and given to private landowners. In 1641 the parish of Monklands was divided between New Monkland (present day Airdrie) and Old Monkland (present day Coatbridge). In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army seized Coatbridge from government troops on their march to Edinburgh in an action described as the 'Canter of Coatbridge'. Coatbridge was described in the 1799 Statistical Account as an 'immense garden' with 'extensive orchards', 'luxurious crops' where 'rivers abound with salmon'.
The Monkland Canal was constructed at the end of the 18th century initially to transport coal to Glasgow from the rich local deposits. The invention of the hot blast furnace process in 1828 meant that Coatbridge's ironstone deposits could be exploited to the maximum by the canal link and hot blast process. The new advances meant that iron could be produced with two thirds less fuel. Summerlee Iron Works was one of the first iron works to use this technology. By the mid 19th century there were numerous hot blast furnaces in operation in Coatbridge.
The prosperous industry which had sprung up around the new iron industry required vast numbers of largely unskilled workers to mine ironstone and work in the blast furnace plants. Coatbridge therefore became a popular destination for vast numbers of Irish (especially from County Donegal in Ulster) arriving in Scotland. The iron bars and plates produced in Coatbridge iron works were the raw materials needed throughout the British Empire for railways, construction, bridge building and shipbuilding. One example of uses Coatbridge' iron was put to included armour plating for British ships fighting in the Crimean War.
Over the course of the following forty years the population of Coatbridge grew by 600%. The character of the Coatbridge area changed from a rural, Presbyterian landscape of small hamlets and farmhouses into a crowded, polluted, Irish Catholic industrial town. In 1840, Rev William Park wrote that:
|“||'The population of this parish is at present advancing at an amazing rate, and this propensity is entirely owing to the local coal and iron trade, stimulated by the discovery of the black band of ironstone and the method of fusing iron by hot blast. New villages are springing up almost every month, and it is impossible to keep place with the march of prosperity and the increase of the population.'||”|
One contemporary observer at this time noted that Coatbridge is 'not famous for its sylvan beauties of its charming scenery' and 'offers the visitor no inducements to loiter long'. However, 'a visit to the large Gartsherrie works is one of the sights of a lifetime'.
Most of the town's population lived in tight rows of terraced houses built under the shadow of the iron works. These homes were often owned by their employers. Living conditions for most were appalling, tuberculosis was rife.
For a fortunate few though fortunes could be won 'with a rapidity only equalled by the princely gains of some of the adventurers who accompanied Pizarro to Peru', noted one observer. Among the most notable success stories were the six sons of Coatbridge farmer Alexander Baird. The Baird family had become involved in coal mining but opened an iron foundry in order to exploit the new hot blast process of iron smelting invented by James Beaumont Neilson. The Baird's subsequently constructed numerous iron foundries in Coatbridge including the famous Gartsherrie iron works. The waste heap or 'bing' from the Baird's Gartsherrie works was said to be as large as the great pyramid in Egypt. One son, James Baird, was responsible for erecting sixteen blast-furnaces in Coatbridge between 1830 and 1842. Each of the six sons of Alexander Baird was reputed to have become a millionaire.
The town was vividly described by Robert Baird in 1845:
|“||'There is no worse place out of hell than that neighbourhood. At night the groups of blast furnaces on all sides might be imagined to be blazing volcanoes at most of which smelting is continued on Sundays and weekdays, day and night, without intermission. From the town comes a continual row of heavy machinery: this and the pounding of many steam hammers seemed to make even the very ground vibrate under ones feet. Fire, smoke and soot with the roar and rattle of machinery are its leading characteristics; the flames of its furnaces cast on the midnight sky a glow as if of some vast conflagration. Dense clouds of black smoke roll over it incessantly and impart to all buildings a peculiarly dingy aspect. A coat of black dust overlies everything'.||”|
In the 19th century, the Baird family wielded a pervasive influence over Coatbridge. They were responsible for the design of the lay out of present-day Coatbridge town centre. The land for the Town Hall and the land which later came to form Dunbeth Park was given to the town by the Bairds. Gartsherrie church was built by the Baird family. The Bairds donated the site on the Main Street for the erection of St. Patrick's Catholic Church. However, they also used patronage of the Orange Order to try and undermine the local trade union movement.
By 1885, the once plentiful Monklands ironstone deposits had been largely exhausted. It became increasing expensive to produce iron in Coatbridge as raw materials had to be imported from as far afield as Spain. The growth of the steel industry (in nearby Motherwell) had also led to a start of a decline in demand for the pig iron Coatbridge produced. Living conditions remained grim. In the 1920s Lloyd George's 'Coal and Power' report described the living conditions in the Rosehall area of Coatbridge:
|“||'...on the outskirts of Coatbridge, I found nearly the worst of all. In each of these single rooms lives a miners' family. There is no pantry. The coal is kept under the bed. Water has to be obtained from a standpipe outside, used by a number of houses. Conspicuously huddled together in the yards are filthy huts for sanitary purposes.'||”|
George Orwell's book The Road to Wigan Pier was illustrated by a photograph of homes in the Rosehall area of Coatbridge. In 1934 there was an exodus to Corby in England when the local Union Plant relocated. This had the effect of a hammer blow impact on the town's iron industry and ushered in the end of serious iron production. The decline of the Clydeside shipbuilding industry in the 1950s meant the demand for iron finally collapsed. A legacy of 'devastating' unemployment, appalling housing conditions and some of the worst overcrowding in Scotland left its stamp on the Coatbridge of the early 1930s. As late as 1936 Coatbridge was the most overcrowded place in Scotland.
In the 1930s and 1950s however massive programmes of state-sponsored house building saw thousands of new homes built in Coatbridge and some of the worst examples of slum housing were cleared away. By the early 1980s 85% of homes in Coatbridge were part of local authority housing stock. The last of the blast furnaces, William Baird's famous Gartsherrie works, closed in 1967.
Since the 1970s there have been various initiatives to attempt to regenerate Coatbridge. Urban Aid grants, European Union grants and, more recently, Social Inclusion Partnership's have attempted to breathe new life into Coatbridge. Despite these efforts the town's population has continued to fall and in recent years the town has been dubbed the 'most dismal in Scotland'.
At Central Lowlands. The town lies 88 metres (288 ft) above sea level, 9 miles (14.5 km) east of Glasgow, 6 miles (10 km) south of Cumbernauld and 2 miles (3 km) west of Airdrie. Although Coatbridge has no major river running through it, the North Calder Water runs east-west to the south and the now defunct Monkland Canal used to run straight through the centre of the town toward Glasgow. The canal route through Coatbridge can still be seen today. There are also several smaller burns which run through Coatbridge, most of which drain to the North Calder Water. Coatbridge has four significant public parks. Dunbeth park, West End park, Whifflet park and Drumpellier Country park. Woodend and Witchwood Loch are situated on the north-west edge of Coatbridge.(55.861°, -4.047°), Coatbridge is situated in Scotland's
The topography of Coatbridge was an important feature in the towns development during the industrial revolution. Coatbridge rests 60 metres below the 'Slamannan plateau' which neighbouring Airdrie sits on the edge of. The low-lying flat ground of Coatbridge was a vital factor in the siting of the towns' blast furnaces and the Monkland Canal route. Although Airdrie was an already established town and had local supplies of ironstone, the Monkland Canal link did not extend into Airdrie because of its higher elevation. The Clyde Valley plan of 1949 described Coatbridge as 'situated over a flooded coalfield'. Tenement buildings in Coatbridge were not built to the same level as Glasgow tenements due to danger of local subsidence from centuries of local mining.
Dunbeth hill where the present local authority municipal buildings stand is a wedge of rock which was probably squeezed upwards by the force of two (now-extinct) fault lines. There are the remains of spreads of glacial sands along the crest of Drumpellier, the west bank of Gartsherrie Burn and along modern day Bank Street. Kirkwood, Kirkshaws and Shawhead sit on a sandstone capped ridge looking south over the Clyde Valley. The vital Coatbridge black band coal field extended from Langloan to beyond the eastern edge of the town.
Like much of the British Isles, Coatbridge experiences a temperate maritime climate with relatively cool summers and mild winters. The prevailing wind is from the west. Regular but generally light precipitation occurs throughout the year.
Coatbridge is the home of 'Scotland's Noisiest Museum', Summerlee Heritage Park, which contains an insight into the life in industrial Coatbridge. A row of 1900s-1960s cottages, a working tram line and a real coal mine can all be experienced on site. The park is situated on the remains of one of Coatbridge's historic blast furnaces. In recent years there has been something of a cultural renaissance in the town, largely rooted in the St. Patrick's Day Festival.
Literature, theatre and film
Janet Hamilton, the nineteenth century poet and essayist, died in Langloan in 1873. Present-day writers Anne Donovan (Orange prize winner), Brian Conaghan (the author of three novels The Boy Who Made it Rain' (2011) 'When Mr Dog Bites' (2014) and 'The Bombs That Brought Us Together' (2016)) and award-winning author Des Dillon are all from Coatbridge. Coatbridge has regularly featured in Des Dillon's work. Two of his books about Coatbridge have been turned into plays.
Mark Millar is a Coatbridge comic book writer whose Wanted comic book series has been translated into a feature film starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, as well as the highly successful graphic novel Kickass which was adapted into the successful film of the same name in 2010. Coatbridge born Dame Laurentia McLachlan was the Benedictine abbess of the Stanbrook Community whose correspondence with George Bernard Shaw and Sydney Cockerell was the subject of the film The Best of Friends. Coatbridge is also home to the annual Deep Fried Film Festival. Local filmmakers Duncan and Wilma Finnigan have been described by The List as 'the John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands of Coatbridge'.
Thomas McAleese (alias Dean Ford) was the lead singer of The Marmalade who had a UK number one single in 1969 with a cover of The Beatles' 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' and co-wrote Reflections Of My Life, Marmalades biggest world wide success. Coatbridge brothers Greg Kane and Pat Kane are the band Hue and Cry. Coatbridge born Alan Frew is the ex-pat lead singer of Canadian group Glass Tiger. Cha Burns (deceased), Jimme O'Neill and JJ Gilmour of The Silencers are from Coatbridge. Coatbridge sisters Fran and Anna were a famous duo on the Scottish traditional music scene.
Coatbridge and Ireland
- See also: Coatbridge Irish
Coatbridge is especially noted for its historical links with Ireland. This is largely due to large scale immigration into the town from Ulster (especially from County Donegal) in the 19th century and throughout most of the 20th century. Indeed, the town has been called 'little Ireland'.
The most obvious manifestation of these links can be seen in the annual St. Patrick's Day Festival. The festival is sponsored by the Irish Government and Guinness. The festival runs for over a fortnight and includes lectures, film shows, dance/Gaelic football competitions and music performances. The festival is the largest Irish celebration in Scotland.
The Coatbridge accent has been categorised as making less use of the Scots tongue and exhibiting a tendency to stress the 'a' vowel differently from general Scots usage. Examples of this are seen the pronunciation of the words stair (sterr), hair (herr), fair (ferr) and chair (cherr). This different enunciation has been attributed to the impact of successive influxes of Ulster Catholic immigrants into Coatbridge. However, the distinctiveness of the Coatbridge accent and pronunciation has diminished as the various surrounding populations (especially Glasgow) have mingled with that of Coatbridge.
Coat of arms
Coatbridge was given burgh status in 1885, and was granted a coat of arms by the Lord Lyon in 1892. The arms have a black field and on it a flaming tower to represent a blast furnace and Coatbridge's industrial tradition. The crest is a monk holding a stone in his left hand. The stone relates to the old parish of Monklands and the legend of the 'aul' Kirk stane'. The legend of the 'aul' Kirk stane' is that a pilgrim undertaking a penance from Glasgow carried a stone in the direction of Monklands. When he could carry the stone no further (or in another version of the legend, when an angel spoke to him) he laid the stone down. It was where the stone came to rest that he was to build a church. The church is the present day Old Monkland Kirk, at which the stone can still be seen.
The Latin motto 'Laborare est orare' translates as 'to work is to pray', which originates in the writings of St. Benedict and is commonly associated with the Cistercian Order whose monks came to Monklands in the 12th century.
- See also: Demography of Scotland
|Over 75 years old||6.1%||5.6%||7.1%|
According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, the census locality of Coatbridge had a total resident population of 41,170, or 13% of the total of North Lanarkshire. This figure, combined with an area of 6.818 square miles (17.7 km2), provides Coatbridge with a population density figure of 6,038 inhabitants per square mile (2,331/km2).
The median age of males and females living in Coatbridge was 35 and 38 years respectively, compared to 37 and 39 years for those in the whole of Scotland. Thirty four percent were married, 6.1% were cohabiting couples, 14.7% were lone parent families and 32.5% of households were made up of individuals.
The place of birth of the town's residents was as follows: 98.7% United Kingdom (including 96% from Scotland), 0.32% Republic of Ireland, 0.30% from other European Union countries, and 0.72% from elsewhere in the world. The economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 39.3% in full-time employment, 9.4% in part-time employment, 3.6% self-employed, 5.3% unemployed, 2.5% students with jobs, 3.2% students without jobs, 13.4% retired, 5.7% looking after home or family, 12.0% permanently sick or disabled, and 5.7% economically inactive for other reasons. Compared with the average demography of Scotland, Coatbridge has low proportions of people born outside the United Kingdom, and people over 75 years of age.
During the 19th century, Irish people began to arrive in large numbers in Coatbridge. The 1851 census recorded that the Irish constituted 35.8% of the local population. Although while a significant proportion of these emigrants were Protestant, the majority were Catholic. By 1901, the percentage of Irish-born people in Coatbridge had fallen to around 15%, but remained the highest of all the major towns in Scotland. In the 2001 census Irish ethnicity was recorded at just over 1%, although just over half the population claimed their religious denomination as Roman Catholicism. In 1985, 56% of the population of Coatbridge were Roman Catholic.
In 2006, Coatbridge (along with Port Glasgow and Clydebank) was identified as 'the least Scottish town in Scotland' due to having the highest percentage of Irish names in the country. Reportedly more than 28% of adults in Coatbridge had names with Irish origins.
Other immigrants to Coatbridge have included in the 1880s a small number of Lithuanians. In 1905, part of a 'wave' of immigrants from Monte Cassino in Italy settled in Coatbridge. A small number of Polish people had stayed in Coatbridge after a Polish tank regiment was stationed in the town during WWII. The 1960 Coatbridge town plan forecast the population to reach 76,000 by 1990.
One local author argued that despite the population apparently remaining relatively static during the 1970s, Coatbridge's population has declined by around 15,000 due to emigration.
The built environment around Coatbridge's town centre is characterised by its mixture of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sandstone buildings and late twentieth-century precast concrete shops. The leafy Blairhill and Dunbeth conservation areas to the west and north of the town centre comprise detached, semi-detached and terraced sandstone residential buildings. The bulk of the remaining surrounding areas consist of various twentieth-century local authority housing buildings. Several high rise flats dominate the skyline. Due to the decline of industries, several private housing estates have been built on reclaimed land.
In 2007 Coatbridge was awarded Prospect architecture magazine's carbuncle award for being the 'most dismal town in Scotland'. The town was also described by Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle as 'like Bladerunner... without the special effects'.
Drumpellier Country Park is set around Woodend Loch. There are extensive woodlands, a visitor centre and a butterfly house. Monkland Canal runs through a section of the park. The Time Capsule is a multi-purpose leisure centre containing a swimming pool, an adventure pool set in a prehistoric environment, an ice skating facility, sauna/steam room and a sports complex with gym halls and other facilities. The Showcase Leisure Park contains a 14-screen cinema, a 10-pin bowling complex and numerous restaurants.
Landmarks in Coatbridge include:
- Coatbridge Leisure Centre – Peter Womersley 1970s brutalist, modernist cantilevered building sited on the main road into Coatbridge
- Coatbridge Library – an Andrew Carnegie-sponsored 1905 pink sandstone structure. Imposing B-listed structure sited on Academy Street
- St. Augustine's Church and buildings - Built in 1873 and located in the Dundyvan area. A red sandstone B listed Rowand Anderson Gothic church
- The Quadrant Shopping Centre - Has been described in one article; '...from the set of Camberwick Green. A new clock tower, which looks as if it was designed on the back of a beer mat, marks the town centre, a throwaway gesture compounded by the addition of some appalling public art-cum street furniture'
- St Andrew's Church - 1839 early Victorian Gothic church by Scott Stephen & Gale in the Whitelaw hill area. Its steeple towers over the town centre
- Coatbridge railway bridges - The B-listed 1898 bridges span Bank Street, West Canal Street and the former Monkland Canal. The bridges underwent specialist restoration in 2009
- St Mary's Church - B listed Gothic church in Whifflet designed by Pugin and Pugin in 1896. Contains an elaborate and ornate interior ceiling
- The former Cattle Market Building - erected in 1896, B listed façade of the sandstone cattle market building within the Blairhill and Dunbeth conservation area
- Summerlee Heritage Park 2008 extension - Spaceship style glass and metal addition to existing building by North Lanarkshire Council's in-house Design Services Team
The Monkland Canal (completed 1791) was used in the 19th and 20th century to transport coal and iron to Glasgow. The town centre section of the canal was interred in pipe between Sikeside and Blair Road in the mid-1970s. Some sections of the Monkland Canal can still be seen today between Townhead and Drumpellier. Coatbridge is adjacent to the M8 and M73 motorways. The M74 motorway is also a short drive away. The major cities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow are all within commuting distance.
Due to the number of rail lines running through Coatbridge, it was once dubbed the "Crewe of the North". There are six railway stations on the four railway lines that bisect the town: Motherwell-Cumbernauld Line; Argyle Line; Whifflet Line; and North Clyde Line. The six stations within Coatbridge and on these lines are: Blairhill; Coatbridge Central; Coatbridge Sunnyside; Coatdyke; Kirkwood; and Whifflet.
Coatbridge has had additional passenger stations, such as Langloan and Calder Station (Greenend); these stations have been closed for many years.
- See also: Neighbourhoods of Coatbridge
The earliest map showing Coatbridge is by Timothy Pont published in Johan Blaeu's Nether warde of clyds-dail (1654). The districts of Dunpelder, Gartsherrie, Langloan, Kirkwood, Kirkshaws and Whifflet are all evident.
The present day neighbourhoods of Coatbridge are Barrowfield, Blairhill, Brownshill, Carnbroe, Cliftonhill, Cliftonville, Coatbank, Coatdyke, Cuparhead, Drumpellier, Dunbeth, Dundyvan, Espieside, Gartsherrie, Greenhill, Greenend, Kirkshaws, Kirkwood, Langloan, Old Monkland, Rosehall, Shawhead, Sikeside, Summerlee, Sunnyside, Townhead and Whifflet. Victoria Park is a relatively new area close the town centre which was built on a brownfield site once occupied by heavy industry. The Blairhill and Dunbeth neighbourhoods are part of the Blairhill and Dunbeth conservation area.
Whitelaw is the area which the town centre is in but is a term which has not been used for many years. The fountain which is situated at the town centre on the corner of Main Street and South Circular Road is officially called the Whitelaw Fountain.
Coatbridge is twinned with St. Denis, France; Campi Bisenzio, Italy; and Gatchina, Russia.
Images for kids
Cliftonhill, home of Albion Rovers
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