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Glenrothes Aerial Picture.jpg
Aerial view of Glenrothes taken from southeast
Glenrothes is located in Fife
Area 8 sq mi (21 km2)
Population 38,360 (2020)
• Density 4,795/sq mi (1,851/km2)
OS grid reference NO281015
• Edinburgh 32 mi (51 km)
• London 444 mi (715 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district KY6, KY7
Dialling code 01592
Police Fife
Fire Fife
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
  • Glenrothes
Scottish Parliament
  • Mid Fife and Glenrothes
List of places
56°11′53″N 3°10′41″W / 56.198°N 3.178°W / 56.198; -3.178

Glenrothes (; glen-ROTH-iss; Scots: Glenrothes; Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Rathais) is a town situated in the heart of Fife, in east-central Scotland. It is about 30 miles (48 km) north of Edinburgh and 30 miles (48 km) south of Dundee. The town had a population of 39,277 in the 2011 census, making it the third largest settlement in Fife and the 18th most populous settlement in Scotland. The name Glenrothes comes from its historical link with the Earl of Rothes, who owned much of the land on which the new town has been built; Glen (Scottish for valley) was added to the name to avoid confusion with Rothes in Moray and in recognition that the town lies in a river valley. The motto of Glenrothes is Ex terra vis, meaning "From the earth strength", which dates back to the founding of the town.

Planned in the late 1940s as one of Scotland's first post-second world war new towns, its original purpose was to house miners who were to work at a newly established coal mine, the Rothes Colliery. After the mine closed, the town developed as an important industrial centre in Scotland's Silicon Glen between 1961 and 2000, with several major electronics and hi-tech companies setting up facilities in the town. The Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC), a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation, was established to develop, manage and promote the new town. The GDC, supported by the local authority, oversaw the governance of Glenrothes until the GDC was wound up in 1995, after which all responsibility was transferred to Fife Council.

Glenrothes is the administrative capital of Fife, containing the headquarters of both Fife Council and Police Scotland Fife Division and is a major service centre within the area. It is also a centre for excellence within the high-tech electronics and manufacturing industry sectors; several organisations have their global headquarters in Glenrothes. Major employers include Bosch Rexroth (hydraulics manufacturing), Fife College (education), Leviton (fibre optics manufacturing) and Raytheon (defence and electronics). Glenrothes is unique in Fife as much of the town centre floorspace is internalised within Fife's largest shopping centre, the Kingdom Shopping Centre. Public facilities include a regional sports and leisure centre, two golf courses, major parks, a civic centre and theatre and a college campus.

The town has won multiple horticultural awards in the Beautiful Scotland and Britain in Bloom contests for the quality of its parks and landscaping. It has numerous outdoor sculptures and artworks, a result of the appointment of town artists in the early development of the town. The A92 trunk road provides the principal access to the town, passing through Glenrothes and connecting it to the wider Scottish motorway and trunk road network. A major bus station is located in the town centre, providing regional and local bus services to surrounding settlements.



The name Rothes comes from the association with the north-east Scotland Earl of Rothes, family name Leslie. The Leslie family historically owned much of the land upon which Glenrothes has been built and their family name gave the adjacent village of Leslie its name. Glen (from the Scottish Gaelic word 'gleann' meaning valley) was added to prevent confusion with Rothes in Moray and to reflect the location of the town within the Leven valley.

Cadham Village
Cadham Village conservation area, built pre-Glenrothes

The different areas (precincts) of Glenrothes have been named after the hamlets already established (e.g. Cadham, Woodside), the farms which once occupied the land (e.g. Caskieberran, Collydean, Rimbleton) or historical country houses in the area (e.g. Balbirnie, Balgeddie, Leslie Parks).

Glenrothes new town

Glenrothes was designated in 1948 under the New Towns Act 1946 as Scotland's second post-war new town. The planning, development, management and promotion of the new town was the responsibility of the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC), a quango appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland. The corporation board consisted of eight members including a chairman and deputy chairman. The first meeting of the GDC was in Auchmuty House, provided by Tullis Russell on 20 June 1949.

The original plan was to build a new settlement for a population of 32,000 to 35,000 people. The land which Glenrothes now occupies was largely agricultural and once contained a number of small rural communities and the hamlets of Cadham and Woodside which were established to house workers at local paper mills. Originally proposals for the new town would have centred it on Markinch; however the village's infrastructure was deemed unable to withstand the substantial growth required to realise a new town and there was considerable local opposition to the proposal. Leslie and Thornton were also considered as possible locations, again meeting local opposition, and eventually an area of 5,320 acres (2,153 ha) between all of these villages was zoned for the new town's development. Much of the historical Aytoun, Balfour, Balgonie and Rothes estates were included in Glenrothes' assigned area along with the historical country houses Balbirnie House, Balgeddie House and Leslie House.

Unlike the other post-war Scottish new towns; Cumbernauld, East Kilbride, Irvine 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 part, by families moving from the declining coalfield areas of Scotland.

Industrial Heritage

Tullis Russell
Former Tullis Russell Papermills

The case for developing the new town was partially driven by a national energy strategy created by the British Government following the Second World War. The concept was further advanced in a report produced in 1946 by Sir Frank Mears to the Central and South-East Scotland Planning Committee. This made the case for a new town in the Leslie-Markinch area to support growth in the coal mining industry in Fife.

Prior to the development of Glenrothes the main industries in the area were papermaking, coal mining and farming. Tullis Russell was the largest paper manufacturer in the area and operated from its site for over 200 years. Other paper manufacturers established operations at the Fettykil and Prinlaws Mills at Leslie to the west of the town, and Dixons Mill at Markinch in the east. The location of the mills was strategic to capitalise on the natural energy provided by the River Leven.

The Rothes Colliery, the new coal mine associated with the town's development, was built on land to the west of Thornton, an established village south of Glenrothes. The mine which was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957 was promoted as being a key driver in the economic regeneration of central Fife. However, un-stemmable flooding and geological problems in the area combined with a lessening demand for coal nationally had a significant impact on the viability of the mine which resulted in its eventual closure in 1965. Ironically, miners who had worked in older deep pits in the area had fore-warned against the development of the Rothes Pit for this very reason.

Silicon Glen

The coal mine's closure almost halted further development of Glenrothes, however shortly following the closure Central Government changed the town's role by appointing it as an economic focal point for Central Scotland as part of a Regional Plan for economic growth and development. The Glenrothes Development Corporation were able to use this status to attract a plethora of light industries and modern electronics factories to the town as a consequence. 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 industrial hub in Scotland's Silicon Glen. During the middle of the 1970s, the town also became the headquarters of Fife Regional Council, making it the administrative centre of Fife, taking over the role from Cupar.

ADC factory Glenrothes 2005
Former ADC electronics plant, Bankhead

Major industrial estates were developed to the south of Glenrothes, largely due to 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 Silicon Glen era peaked in the 1990s with Canon developing their first UK manufacturing plant at Westwood Park in Glenrothes in 1992. ADC Telecommunications, a major American electronics company, established a base at Bankhead in early 2000 with the promise of a substantial number of jobs. Around the start of the 21st century, a decline in major electronics manufacturing in Scotland impacted on the town's economy and as a result the industrial base of the town was forced to diversify for the second time in its short history. In 2004 both ADC and Canon had closed their Glenrothes operations with the promised jobs growth never materialising to any substantial level. This was due to the electronics industrial sector in Glenrothes and most of central Scotland being dependent upon an inward investment strategy that led to almost 43% of employment in foreign-owned plants which were susceptible to changes in global economic markets.

Post-Glenrothes Development Corporation

Despite the set backs by 1995 the GDC had left a lasting legacy on the town by overseeing the development of over 15,000 houses, 5,174,125 square feet (480,692 m2) of industrial floorspace, 735,476 square feet (68,328 m2) of office floorspace and 576,977 square feet (53,603 m2) of shopping floorspace. Since the winding up of the GDC Glenrothes continues to serve as Fife's principal administrative centre and serves a wider sub-regional area as a major centre for services and employment.

In 2008 Canadian artist and researcher Sylvia Grace Borda chose to holiday for a week in Glenrothes to explore, as was perceived, "an area considered by many Scots as uninteresting and unworthy of documentation". She was curious to explore the town as if she were a late-1960s photographer of common places following on from a similar study of East Kilbride new town. The outcome was the production of a series of images which the artist believes contradict how some Scots would 'see' Glenrothes, and reinforce the observation that it often takes a visitor to see what others take for granted. The work sought to position itself so the everyday environment can cause the viewer pause and to regard the commonplace as extraordinary.

Glenrothes gained national publicity in 2009 by winning a Carbuncle Award following an unofficial contest operated by Urban Realm and Carnyx Group which was set up to criticise the quality of built environments in Scotland. The judges of the contest awarded Glenrothes the category of the most dismal place in Scotland for its "depressed and investment starved town centre". This generated mixed views from locals and built environment professions alike.

By contrast in 2010 the town won awards for being the "Best Kept Large Town" and the most "Clean, sustainable and beautiful community" in Scotland in the Beautiful Scotland competition and was the winner in the "large town" category in the 2011 Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom competition. The town continued its horticultural success by achieving further Gold awards in the 2013 and 2014 UK finals.

In 2011 Historic Scotland completed an assessment of the town art in Glenrothes, ultimately awarding listed status to a number of artworks scattered throughout the town. The organisation also gave positive recognition to Glenrothes' significant role in helping to create the idea of art being a key factor in creating a sense of place.

Glenrothes' place and importance in the history and development of Scotland has been enshrined in the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which was unveiled in 2013 in the Scottish Parliament. The Glenrothes panel shows various pieces of the town's public artworks, along with visual references to its important industrial heritage associated originally with coal mining and later as a major centre for "Silicon Glen" industries.


View from Markinch Cemetary1
View of Glenrothes seen from St. Drostan's Cemetery, Markinch in the foreground

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. The neighbouring settlements are Coaltown of Balgonie, Leslie, Markinch and Thornton. The boundaries of the town are virtually indistinguishable between its neighbouring small towns and villages forming a contiguous urban area. The villages of Kinglassie, Milton of Balgonie and Star of Markinch are located slightly further away and are physically separated from Glenrothes by farmland. Kirkcaldy, a traditional industrial centre is the next nearest large town and lies approximately 7 miles (11 km) to the south of the town. Glenrothes is also located equidistant from two of Fife's other principal settlements, Dunfermline and St Andrews, at 19 miles (31 km) and 21 miles (34 km) away. Two of Scotland's major cities, Edinburgh and Dundee, are located almost equidistantly from Glenrothes at 32 miles (51 km) and 27 miles (43 km) away, respectively. The smaller Scottish city of Perth is located 23 miles (37 km) to the northwest.

The northern parts of the settlement lie upland on the southern fringes of the Lomond Hills Regional Park. The central parts of the town extend between the southern edge of the River Leven valley; a substantial green space which passes east west through the town, and the Warout Ridge. Southern parts of Glenrothes are largely industrial and are situated 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 (91 m). 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 maximum of 18 °C (64 °F) to a minimum of 9 °C (48 °F).

Glenrothes Aerial Picture
Aerial image of Glenrothes looking northwest

A linked network of semi-natural landscape areas throughout the town allow for a mix of biodiversity with different flora and fauna and wildlife habitats. Areas of ancient woodland are found in Riverside Park and Balbirnie Park, both of which are also designated historic gardens and designed landscapes. Balbirnie Park is renowned for having a large collection of rhododendron species. Protected wildlife species found in the Glenrothes area include red squirrels,water voles and various types of bats. Landscape areas also act as natural drainage systems, reducing the likelihood of flooding in the built up areas of the town, with rainwater flows channelled to the River Leven, or to the Lochty Burn. Landscape planning has also ensured that Glenrothes' road network, with particular focuses on the town's many roundabouts, provides green networks throughout the town.

Built environment and urban form

Woodside Road, Glenrothes
Early 1950s GDC housing at Woodside Road

Careful consideration was given to the form and infrastructure of the town, focusing on the creation of individual suburban type neighbourhoods (precincts), each with their own architectural identity. Engineers, planners, builders and architects were tasked with creating not only good quality mass-produced housing but green spaces, tree planting, wildlife corridors and soft and hard landscaping. This was seen as an equally important part of the process, helping to provide a sense of place and connection to the land that a New Town was felt to need in order to become a successful place where people would want to live and raise children. Separating industry as far as possible from housing areas in planned industrial estates was a key element of early plans. This was at the time seen as an important change from the "chaotic", congested and polluted industrial towns and cities of the previous centuries where cramped unsanitary housing and dirty industries were built in close proximity to one another. The vision for Glenrothes was to provide a clean, healthy and safe environment for the town's residents.

The settlement has been purposely planned using a series of masterplans. Development of Glenrothes started in Woodside in the east and progressed westwards. The first town masterplan was implemented as far as South Parks and Rimbleton housing precincts. Early residential precincts were based on Ebenezer Howard's Garden City philosophy, using relatively tried and tested principles of town planning and architecture which is reflected in their housing styles and layouts. The first town masterplan sub-divided the town's designated area into self-contained residential precincts with their own primary schools, local shops and community facilities.

Pitteuchar, Glenrothes
Late 1960s GDC housing in Pitteuchar

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 road network was upgraded to deal with projected increases in car ownership and new housing estates were developed to the west, then to the south and finally to the north of the designated area.

The housing precincts of the 1960s and 1970s, developed under the second masterplan, departed slightly from the garden city ideals instead adopting Radburn principles; separating as far as practical footpaths from roads. The housing precincts were designed to better accommodate increases in car ownership which increased significantly from the 1960s onwards. The townscape changed in this period with a mixture of higher densities, more contemporary architectural styles and new development layouts. Terraced housing and flats were predominantly developed with the fronts of houses designed to face onto public footpaths and open spaces. Car parking was kept either to the rear of properties or in parking bays located nearby in efforts to reduce the likelihood of road accidents occurring. Housing precincts from the 1980s onwards were largely developed by the private sector with the majority of this housing developed in low density suburban cul-de-sacs. Landscaping around the town included the blending of housing into the northern hillside through the use of structural planting and tree belts.


The Glenrothes area's geology is predominantly made up by glacial deposits with the subsoil largely consisting of boulder clay with a band of sand and gravel in the area to the north of the River Leven. The river valley largely comprises alluvium deposits and there are also igneous intrusions of olivine dolerite throughout the area. Productive coal measures were largely recorded in the southern parts of Glenrothes, approximately south of the line of the B921 Kinglassie road. These coal measures form part of the East Fife coalfield and prior to 1962 the deposits there were to be worked by the Rothes Colliery, until it was found that there were severe issues with water penetration and subsequent flooding. Smaller limestone coal outcrops that had been historically worked were recorded around the Balbirnie and Cadham/Balfarg areas with the land that is now Gilvenbank Park found particularly to be heavily undermined.


In 1950 the population in the Glenrothes designated area was about 1,000 people, located in the hamlets of Woodside and Cadham and in the numerous farm steadings that were spread throughout the area. Population growth in the early phases of the town was described as slow due to the dependence on the growth of jobs at the Rothes Colliery. In 1960 the town population was shown to have increased to 12,499 people, and it had risen to 28,098 by 1969. The fastest growth was between 1964 and 1969, with average inward migration of 1,900 persons per year. In 1981 Glenrothes' population was estimated at 35,000 and at the time the GDC was disbanded in 1995 it was estimated to be just over 40,000.

Glenrothes compared according to UK Census 2011
Glenrothes Fife Scotland
Total population 39,277 365,198 5,295,403
Percentage Scottish identity only 68.5% 63.8% 62.4%
Over 75 years old 6.8% 7.9% 7.7%
Unemployed 6% 4% 4.8%

The 2001 census recorded the population of Glenrothes at 38,679 representing 11% of Fife's total population. The 2011 census recorded a 1.5% population rise to 39,277. The total population in the wider Glenrothes area was estimated at 50,492 in 2016, with a projected increase of 4% by 2026. The number of households in the Glenrothes area in 2016 was recorded at 22,994; 71% of which were owner occupied, 25% social rented and 4% private rented. 29.9% of people live alone and 15.7% are in low income. The median weekly income is calculated at £523.00 (residents earnings) and £557.30 (workplace earnings) for the area.

The working age population of the town in 2011 was 29,079 as recorded by the census. The percentage of population economically active in Glenrothes was recorded at 75.2% in 2021. The number of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit (UC) claimants at May 2021 in the Glenrothes area was 1,700 representing a 5.6% rate, consistent with the Scottish average, but lower than the Fife and UK averages of 6%. Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) figures indicate that Auchmuty, Cadham, Collydean, Macedonia and Tanshall areas in Glenrothes fall within the 20% most deprived communities category in Scotland.

Culture and community

Ex Terra, Glenrothes
"Ex Terra" sculpture

In 1968 Glenrothes was the first town in the UK to appoint a town artist. This is now recognised as playing a significant role, both in a Scottish and in an international context, in helping to create the idea of art being a key factor in creating a sense of place. Two town artists, David Harding (1968–78) and Malcolm Robertson (1978–91), were employed in the lifetime of the GDC. Both artists, supported by a number of assistants, created a large variety of artworks and sculptures that are scattered throughout the town. Other artists have also contributed to the creation of the town's artworks. The first sculpture erected in Glenrothes was "Ex Terra", created by Benno Schotz. "The Good Samaritan" sculpture in Riverside Park was produced by Edinburgh-based sculptor, Ronald Rae, who was commissioned by the GDC to produce a piece of art work in celebration of the town's 40th anniversary in 1988.

The town has won numerous awards locally and nationally for the quality of its landscaping; something that is promoted by the "Take a Pride in Glenrothes" (TAPIG) group. The Glenrothes Development Corporation devoted around one third of land in Glenrothes to the provision of open space. As a consequence the town has numerous parks, the largest being Balbirnie Park, Carleton Park, Gilvenbank Park, Riverside Park, and Warout Park. The Lomond Hills Regional Park borders and enters the town to the north and east.

The Rothes Halls complex is the town's main theatre, exhibition, conference and civic centre venue. The town's main library and a cafe also form part of the complex. When the new town of Glenrothes began construction, a number of small venues served the community for entertainment purposes. However, despite frequent requests from the community, no plan for a larger-scale theatre or community hall made it past the planning stages. By the 1970s, calls from the community and District Council for an entertainment venue increased. In 1972, a working party was formed to investigate potential sites and designs for such a building; designs for a town centre complex were agreed upon, but financial constraints meant they were not followed through. In 1983, proposals were put forward for what would become Rothes Halls. Again, financial constraints delayed construction, but in 1993 the building was finally constructed, offering state-of-the-art facilities and some of the biggest, most flexible theatre spaces available in Fife. The Rothes Halls was officially opened by actor and director Richard Wilson on 30 November 1993. Since then, Rothes Halls has played host to a vast range of local, national and international shows; popular music and entertainment acts, and amateur societies have all performed there.

Rothes Halls
Rothes Halls, Kingdom Centre

The Glenrothes & Area Heritage Centre established a permanent base in November 2013 following a series of successful temporary exhibitions held previously in the town centre. The heritage centre is run by local volunteers and operates from a shop unit in the Kingdom Shopping Centre. It focuses on the history of the Glenrothes area from a period between the early 19th century to the late 20th century.

Glenrothes Hospital is a community hospital located in the Forresters Lodge area to the northwest of the town centre. Opened in October 1981 the hospital has over 80 nursing staff and over 60 beds, as well as around 20 day hospital beds. Glenrothes Hospital provides a wide range of services including; speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, dietetics, district nurses, health visitors, podiatry, hospital pharmacy and x-ray services. There is, however, no accident and emergency service within this hospital.

A war memorial was constructed in Glenrothes in 2007 following the deaths of two local Black Watch soldiers in Iraq. Prior to this Glenrothes was in the unusual position of not being able to host its own Remembrance Sunday commemorations. Unlike traditional memorials, the Glenrothes war memorial consists of two interlinking rings of standing stones.

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, amateur theatre groups, a choral society and a variety of sports clubs. Glenrothes hosts an annual gala which is held at Warout Park and has a variety of family activities including a dog show, highland dancing and a travelling funfair with stalls. Summer and winter festivals were held in Riverside Park in 2012. The summer festival included sporting events along with arts and crafts, food stalls and fairground shows. The winter festival coincided with bonfire night celebrations and included the town's annual fireworks display which was previously held at Warout Park. Markinch and Thornton each host an annual Highland Games and the other surrounding villages host their own annual gala days and festivals.

Riverside Park Festival set-up
Riverside Park during the 2012 summer festival

The town has a large variety of established sports facilities including two 18-hole golf courses (Glenrothes and Balbirnie), a football stadium at Warout and a major sports complex, the Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre. The new centre was named after the late SNP Councillor Michael Woods in a controversial decision taken by the Glenrothes Area Committee in 2012. The sports centre was recognised for its architectural quality in the 2014 Scottish Property Awards, coming second place in the Architectural Excellence Award for Public Buildings.

The local football club is the Glenrothes F.C., a junior side who play at Warout Park. Glenrothes also has a rugby club based at Carleton Park and a cricket club who play at Riverside Park. The Road Running Festival in Glenrothes is the largest annual sporting event in the town with over 1500 people of all ages and levels of fitness taking part and has been held annually since 1983. The town is also an established destination in hosting the BDO British International Championships for darts which are held annually at the town's CISWO club.

Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre, Glenrothes
Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre

Glenrothes has a twin-town link with Böblingen, a city in Baden-Württemberg in Germany since 1971. As early as 1962 a local councillor had suggested that the town might "twin" with a town on the Continent. Some years later a friendship grew up between teachers at Glenrothes High School and the 'Gymnasium' in Böblingen which eventually led to the twinning of the towns. Since then there have been a number of exchanges on official, club and personal levels.

Famous people associated with the town include the actor Dougray Scott who grew up in Glenrothes and attended Auchmuty High School. Douglas Mason, known as one of the engineers of the "Thatcher revolution" and the "father of the poll tax" set up home in Glenrothes in the 1960s and spent most of his adult life living there. Henry McLeish, the former First Minister of Scotland lived in Glenrothes, having been brought up in nearby Kennoway. Glenrothes town centre is home to the building involved in the notorious Officegate scandal, which ultimately led to McLeish's resignation as First Minister in 2001. Tricia Marwick, the first female Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament served as MSP for Glenrothes.


The most prominent landmarks in Glenrothes are the River Leven Bridge, the Tullis Russell factory chimneys, Raeburn Heights; a residential tower block and Fife House; an office block, both of which sit at the western corners of the town centre. The River Leven Bridge, which spans Riverside Park and carries the town's Western Distributor Road, is a cable-stayed bridge that was completed in 1995. The bridge was designed by Dundee-based Nicoll Russell Studios, Architects and was commissioned by the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC) as a landmark creating a gateway into Riverside Park that could be seen from further afield. The bridge was constructed by Balfour Beatty Construction (Scotland) and it was the first reinforced-concrete cable-stayed structure ever built in the UK.

Giant Irises Glenrothes
"Giant Irises", Leslie Roundabout

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. Former town artist Malcolm Robertson produced the "Giant Irises" sculpture as Glenrothes' contribution to the Glasgow Garden Festival. The sculpture was the winner of the John Brown Clydebank award for the "Most Original and Amusing Artifact" and following the festival, it was re-erected at Leslie Roundabout. A number of other sculptures were relocated in 2011 to more visually prominent locations around the town creating new landmarks. Four pieces of Glenrothes artworks have been awarded listed status by Historic Scotland. "Ex Terra" has been listed at Category B and the "The Birds", "The Henge" and "Work" (or Industry, Past and Present) at Category C. Historic Scotland has also produced a website, a video and an information brochure dedicated to the Glenrothes town art.

Glenrothes is home to the remains of ancient stone circles which can be seen at Balbirnie and Balfarg in the northeast of the town. The Balfarg henge was constructed around 3,000BC and contains the remnants of a stone circle which has been partly reconstructed. The henge was excavated between 1977 and 1978 prior to the development of a new housing estate. The Balbirnie henge which is only located approximately 500m away from Balfarg was excavated between 1970 and 1971. In order to allow widening of the A92 the stones were moved a short distance to a new location at North Lodge and reconstructed as nearly as possible in the original way. The stone circle has been carbon dated as being from the bronze age. It is thought that the Balbrinie stone circle and the Balfarg circle once formed part of a larger ceremonial complex.

Balbirnie House
Balbirnie House Hotel, Balbirnie Park

There are a number of former stately homes located in Glenrothes. Balbirnie House, the category-A listed Georgian former home of the Balfour family, was bought along with its grounds in 1969 by the GDC from the Balfour family to be developed as Balbirnie Park and golf course. The house was later occupied and restored by the GDC in 1981, to stop the property falling into disrepair. This led to potential interest and the house was converted into a four-star hotel in 1989. The B-listed former stable block of the house was converted into a craft centre. Balgeddie House, a C-Listed former Edwardian residence of Sir Robert Spencer Nairn located in the northwest of the town, has also been converted into a high quality hotel. Leslie House, the category-A listed 17th century former home of the Leslie family, became a care home for the elderly in 1945; owned by the Church of Scotland. The building was in the process of being renovated, when the interior and roof of the house were destroyed by a fire in February 2009. This has put the redevelopment on hold. Much of the former grounds of Leslie House have been used to create Riverside Park. Collydean precinct hosts a ruin of a 17th-century house called Pitcairn House which was built for and first occupied by Archibald Pitcairne famous Scottish physician.

St Pauls RC Church Glenrothes
St. Paul's R.C. Church, Glenrothes

The town is also home to a number of churches which act as important landmarks as a result of their unique architectural styles and sometimes their locations at key road junctions. The three earliest churches are now listed buildings. These are St. Margaret's Church in Woodside (category C listed), St. Paul's RC Church in Auchmuty (category A listed), and St. Columba's Church on Church Street (category A listed) in the town centre. St. Paul's RC was designed by architects Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. In 1993 it was listed as one of sixty key monuments of post-war architecture by the international conservation organisation DoCoMoMo. The church sits at a junction between two main distributor roads. St Columba's Church, designed by architects Wheeler & Sproson, underwent significant restoration in 2009. Internally the church contains a large mural created by Alberto Morrocco titled 'The Way of the Cross', which was completed in 1962. Externally the church with its distinctive triangular iron bell tower and Mondrian inspired stain glass windows acts as a landmark at the south-western gateway to the town centre.

One other local landmark of worthy mention is Balgonie Castle, located east of Glenrothes on the south bank of the River Leven near Milton of Balgonie and Coaltown of Balgonie. The castle keep dates from the 14th century, and the remaining structures were added piecemeal until the 18th century. The keep has been recently restored, although other parts of the castle are roofless ruins. The castle was awarded category A listing in 1972 by Historic Scotland.


Glenrothes Bus station
Glenrothes Bus Station

Glenrothes has a planned road network with original masterplans establishing the principle that "through traffic" be bypassed around the housing precincts by a network of "Freeway" and "Highway" distributor roads. These would connect each precinct to the 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 which would allow traffic to flow freely.

The town 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 Dunfermline in the southwest where it merges with the M90. This gives Glenrothes a continuous dual-carriageway link to Edinburgh and the major central Scotland road networks, whilst much of the route north to Dundee remains a single-carriageway. Local campaigners have for a number of years sought the upgrade of the A92 north of Glenrothes. 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. The B921 Kinglassie Road, described in early masterplans as the Southern Freeway, links Glenrothes to the former mining communities of Cardenden and Kinglassie, and to Westfield. The route is a dual carriageway between Bankhead Roundabout and as far west as Fife Airport. Early masterplans show that this route was originally intended to be upgraded to provide dualled connections to the A92 Chapel junction in Kirkcaldy, however this has never been implemented.

Glenrothes Airport
Fife (Glenrothes) Airport

The town has a major bus station in the town centre providing frequent links to the cities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth as well as to surrounding towns and villages. Two railway stations on the edge of the main town serve the Glenrothes area - Glenrothes with Thornton railway station and Markinch railway station. Glenrothes is home to an airfield, Fife Airport (ICAO code EGPJ), which is used for general aviation with private light aircraft. Edinburgh Airport is the nearest international airport to Glenrothes, Dundee Airport operates daily flights to London, Birmingham and Belfast.

A purposely designed pedestrian and cycle system was also created using a network of ring and radial routes throughout the town. This includes a near three mile continuous linear cycle path, called Boblingen Way, which extends across the length of Glenrothes, from Leslie in the west, to Woodside in the east. Glenrothes is connected to the National Cycle Network via Route 766 which runs north from Kirkcaldy to north of Glenrothes, linking to the wider network via Route 76 and Route 1.


The Glenrothes area's economy predominantly comprises manufacturing and engineering industries, service sector, health and public sector jobs. In 2016, around 27,190 people were employed in the Glenrothes area; approximately 16% of the 164,500 jobs in Fife. Glenrothes is recognised for having the main concentration of advanced manufacturing and engineering companies in Fife. There are a total of 46 "Top 200 Fife Businesses" located in Glenrothes and there was a recorded 532,100 square metres (5,727,477 sq ft) of industrial and business floorpace within the town's employment areas following a survey carried out in 2014 with the largest concentrations of premises in the south of the town and around the town centre. Major employment areas in Glenrothes include: Bankhead, Eastfield, Pentland Park, Queensway, Southfield, Viewfield, Westwood Park and Whitehill.

Manufacturing and engineering industries

Glenrothes Industry Employed compared according to UK Census 2011
Glenrothes Fife Scotland
Area Committee Total Population 50,701 366,910 5,327,700
All Persons 16-74 in Employment 23,493 167,326 2,516,895
% Primary Industry 3.0% 2.4% 3.3%
% Manufacturing 14.9% 10.0% 7.7%
% Utilities 1.3% 1.4% 1.6%
% Construction 8.2% 8.2% 8.0%
% Wholesale, Retail & Transport 19.4% 18.6% 19.9%
% Accommodation and Food 4.8% 5.6% 6.3%
% ICT 2.2% 3.0% 2.7%
% Finance & Professional 15.6% 19.1% 20.1%
% Public Sector 8.6% 7.8% 7.0%
% Education & Health sector 21.9% 23.8% 23.4%

The 2011 Census showed that manufacturing accounted for almost 15% of employment in Glenrothes. In 2015 this amounted to over 4,000 jobs in the local area, or almost a third of all manufacturing jobs in Fife. A number of high tech industrial companies are located in the town largely specialised in electronics manufacturing making the Glenrothes area one of Scotland's largest clusterings of electronics companies. These are what remain of Silicon Glen operations in the area which gradually reduced and then consolidated since the peak in the late 1990s. Local companies specialised in this sector include Compugraphics which develops photomasks for the microelectronics sector, CTDI (formally Regenersis) which provides technology repair and test services, Leviton (previously Brand Rex) which produces fibre optic cabling, Raytheon which specialises in electronics for the defence industry and Semefab which produces Micro Electric Mechanical Systems (MEMS). Other major companies which have established a base in Glenrothes include Bosch Rexroth (hydraulics manufacturing), FiFab (precision engineering) and Velux (Window and Skylight Manufacturers).

In 2013 Indian beverages group Kyndal entered into a joint venture with John Fergus & Co Ltd to establish a new Scotch whisky distillery and bonded warehouse facility in Glenrothes. The new distillery, named Inchdairnie, focuses on exporting to markets in India, Africa and the Far East. It opened in May 2016 creating 15 new jobs as well as generating new exports worth a predicted £3.6 million to Scotland over the next three years. It is located at Whitehill Industrial Estate adjacent to Fife Airport. The distillery is one of the first in Scotland to embark on a significant decarbonisation programme and was awarded UK Government funding as part of a 'Green Distilleries Competition' in January 2021. This will specifically focus on the potential to use hydrogen at the distillery to significantly decarbonise the process heat required. The hydrogen could be produced two ways, by converting the gas generated at the local AD plant to hydrogen onsite and through electrolysis of local renewables onsite. This will reduce the overall carbon footprint of the distillery.

Roof window manufacturer Velux announced in October 2018 that it was delivering a £7 million expansion to its UK and Ireland headquarters in Glenrothes. The firm's existing head office building will be renovated and a 3,500 square metre new build structure will also be developed alongside the existing office, housing a customer service centre, training facilities, office space, meeting suite and a staff restaurant. Like the current building, the extension will showcase Velux products, such as its modular skylight system, flat roof windows and sun tunnels.

Retail, leisure and service sectors

Kingdom Shopping Centre - west entrance
Kingdom Shopping Centre

Retail jobs accounted for approximately 11% of the total number of jobs in the local economy in 2011. The majority of shopping, retail services and administrative facilities in Glenrothes are concentrated in the town centre (central business district). With approximately 120 shop units the Kingdom Centre provides the largest concentration of retail and services in the town centre. New shop units were delivered at North Street in late 2018/early 2019 anchored by a Marks and Spencers foodhall. Community and commercial leisure facilities within the town centre include the Rothes Halls complex; Glenrothes' principal theatre, library, civic and exhibition centre. A cinema, restaurant, pub and bingo hall complex are located adjacent to the Kingdom Centre at Carrick Gate/Church Street. Ten-pin bowling facilities are available at Albany Gate. Shops and services have also expanded beyond the original boundaries of the town centre. A number of commercial operators including the town's major supermarkets and a large bingohall complex are located in adjacent Queensway. The town's largest retail employers, Asda and Morrisons, both trade from large stores there. A retail park has also been constructed at the Saltire Centre, approximately half of a mile (1 km) to the southwest of the town centre.

Other types of service industries also add to the town's economic mix with large single employers being in the 'accommodation and food services' sector which accounted for around 4% of the town's total jobs. Balbirnie House Hotel and Balgeddie House Hotel (a Best Western hotel) are the largest hotel operators in the immediate area. Budget hotel chains are also represented with Wetherspoons operating a hotel and pub, the Golden Acorn Hotel, in the town centre. Premier Inn, Travelodge and Holiday Inn also operate hotels within Glenrothes.

Financial and professional services represent 15.6% of the total number of jobs. Offices are mainly concentrated in the town centre and at Pentland Park. An enterprise hub facility was opened in the town centre in 2017 to act as a "one-stop shop" supplying increased enterprise and business services to potential entrepreneurs in the local area.

Fife Constabulary HQ
Police Scotland Fife Division HQ, Viewfield

Public and voluntary sectors

A number of public service and third sector agencies and authorities are based in Glenrothes contributing to the town's administrative centre function. Police Scotland has established its Fife Division headquarters in Glenrothes at Viewfield. Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Enterprise and Kingdom Housing Association, a major Registered Social Landlord also have offices in Glenrothes at Pentland Park; a business park within the town. Fife College is also a key employer in Glenrothes with a large campus based at Stenton Road adjacent to Viewfield Industrial Estate. Fife Council is a major employer in the locality with its prominent local authority headquarters building located in Glenrothes town centre. Many of the other council departments are contained in a number of the town centre's office blocks and a major depot and office facility is located at Bankhead in the former ADC building.

Regeneration and future development

A range of development projects are proposed to regenerate the town centre steered by a masterplan that was approved by the Glenrothes Area Committee in March 2021. This seeks to address a variety of negative trends including addressing the loss of shops and a halving of office floorspace since the year 2000. Celebrating the unique legacy of public art bequeathed to the town, introducing new business opportunities outwith the Kingdom Shopping Centre, creating new public spaces, including a new town square, and supporting an enhanced economy are also identified in the masterplan. This supersedes an earlier Glenrothes town centre action plan that was approved at Glenrothes Area Committee in 2014. Older parts of the Kingdom Shopping Centre at Albany Gate are proposed to be demolished and redeveloped.

In mid-2015 Tullis Russell Papermakers, a stalwart to the local area economy for around 200 years, went into administration. The Scottish Government and Fife Council established a taskforce to help mitigate the effects of job losses and put in place appropriate support for a sustainable future for the area. Around £6 million was set aside to support the Fife Taskforce's Action Plan which included projects such as the Queensway Technology Park; supporting the regeneration of Queensway Industrial Estate to develop a modern business and technology park which can utilise the proximity to RWE's Biomass Power Generation facility and to a Green Data Centre. The Glenrothes Enterprise Hub was another project delivered as a result of the task force support. Proposals to redevelop the site of the former mills for mixed uses including around 800 new homes, retail, businesses and industry are progressing.

Glenrothes is to be home to the UK's First 100% Green Data Centre which is to be built at Queensway Technology Park. Once complete this will represent a significant economic development for the area and will play a strategically important part in Scotland's IT infrastructure transformation as a whole. The £40 million development will create over 300 construction jobs during the build process and up to 50 full-time posts created on completion, including technical and operational staff. The facility will be the first of its kind in the UK drawing its energy from a renewable source with power coming directly from the RWE biomass plant in the town. Queensway Data Centre will accommodate up to 1500 high performance computer racks offering the highest levels of resilience and data security. The facility will be built to a BREEAM outstanding standard with a power usage effectiveness rating of less than 1.15.

There are also proposals to support the regeneration of the western neighbourhoods, centered around the Glenwood centre. A charrette was held in 2017, facilitated by PAS and supported by design experts, Fife Council and the Scottish Government. This was intended to inform an action plan for the future of the area.


New Auchmuty High School
The new Auchmuty High School completed summer 2013

Early precincts in the town were served by their own primary schools which were to be provided on the basis of one school for every 1,000 houses. The first primary school to be opened in Glenrothes was Carleton Primary School, built in 1953 in Woodside. In total thirteen primary schools were developed in the town, twelve non-denominational and one to serve catholic pupils. In February 2014 Fife Council's Executive Committee voted to close one of Glenrothes' primary schools at Tanshall as part of a wider school estate review which sought to reduce costs. The closure faced considerable local opposition and the proposals were called-in by the Scottish Government, but ultimately the closure of the school went ahead as planned and it was demolished in 2016.

There are three secondary schools in Glenrothes, the earliest of which is Auchmuty High School, opened in 1957. Secondary Schools were to be provided on the basis of one school for every 4,000 houses. Glenwood High School was built in 1962 to serve the western precincts. Prior to 1966 older pupils had to attend schools in neighbouring towns to continue "Higher" examinations as Auchmuty and Glenwood only provided for pupils at junior secondary level. Glenrothes High School was built in 1966 to accommodate pupils at a higher level. However changes in the education system nationally meant that both Auchmuty and Glenwood were raised to full high school status in the 1970s. Auchmuty High School serves the east and southern parts of Glenrothes as well as the villages of Markinch, Coaltown of Balgonie and Thornton. As part of the £126 million Building Fife's Future Project a replacement for Auchmuty was completed and opened to pupils in 2013. Glenrothes High School serves the central and northern areas in the town. Glenwood High School serves the western parts of Glenrothes and the villages of Leslie and Kinglassie. Catholic pupils in Glenrothes attend St Andrew's High School in neighbouring Kirkcaldy.

Adam Smith College Glenrothes
Fife College Glenrothes Campus

Further education in the town is provided at Fife College. Construction of a Glenrothes college campus began in the early 1970s, originally specialising in paper manufacturing, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering courses. A second institute known as FIPRE (Fife Institute of Physical and Recreational Education) was built adjacent catering for sport and physical education as well as providing a sports centre for the town. The Glenrothes campus of the college is located at Stenton Road in Viewfield. This was significantly extended in 2010 with the development of the "Future Skills Centre". It includes departments in engineering, construction, renewables and science to cater for emerging industries specialising in renewable energy and low carbon technologies as well as provide training for major engineering projects.

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