Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

infobox UK place
country = Scotland
official_name= Airdrie
gaelic_name= An Àrd Ruigh or An Àrd Àirighe
scots_name= Airdrie
population= 36,326
os_grid_reference= NS761654
map_type= Scotland
unitary_scotland= North Lanarkshire
lieutenancy_scotland= Lanarkshire
Traditional= Lanarkshire
constituency_westminster= Airdrie and Shotts
constituency_scottish_parliament= Airdrie and Shotts
post_town= Airdrie|postcode_district = ML6
postcode_area= ML |dial_code= 01236

Airdrie (Gaelic "An Àrd Ruigh"/"An Àrd Àirighe") is a town within North Lanarkshire, Scotland. It lies on a plateau roughly 400 ft (130 m) above sea level, and is approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of Glasgow. Airdrie, along with its neighbour Coatbridge, forms the area known as the Monklands. As of 2006, it had a population of 36,853. [ [] North Lanarkshire Population Estimates]


The history of a settlement near modern-day Airdrie may be dated back to AD 577, which was the year of the Battle of Arderyth [Begg, Ean. & Rich, Deike (1991). "On the Trail of Merlin". ISBN 0-85030-939-5 ] (Airdrie). This was a battle between Rydderych "The Bountiful", King of Strathclyde, and Aeddam "The Perfidious", King of Kintyre. While few have heard of the main protagonists, amongst Aeddam's contingent was the Celtic bard, Merlin. Merlin's patron, Gwennddolan, was killed during the battle in which Merlin was awarded for his verses recording the battle. The history of Airdrie between the Battle of Arderyth and AD 1162 is unclear, due to the scarcity of written historical records.

1162 to 1850

Airdrie owes its existence to its location on the "Hogs Back" - the ridge of land running from east to west. One very important aspect of the town’s history were the "monks", hence the name of the area; Monklands. The monks were farmers and most of the land they used is known today as “Four Isles” (a housing estate named after four Scottish islands; Mull, Islay, Iona and Luing in the Petersburn area of modern Airdrie). The Monks of Newbattle had numerous establishments throughout the area including a farm grange at Drumpellier, Coatbridge, a Court House at Kipps, a Chapel in the area of Chapelhall and a number of corn mills - one being the original Airdrie Meal mill. The Monks were also expert in the construction of roads. In the 12th century they established the original Glasgow to Edinburgh road via Airdrie and Bathgate, to link up with their lands in Newbattle in East Lothian.

In those days travelling was often dangerous. Horses were still very rare and could only be afforded by the rich. Low lying ground was usually extremely difficult to navigate because of the numerous bogs, forests and burns - not to mention the possibility of ambush by a footpad or robber. Hence, it became much more practical to travel on the high ground (the "High Way") where one could avoid the mud and the robbers. These roads (tracks) became known as the King's Highway.

Definitive evidence of the existence of Airdrie as a tenantry was only made clear in 1503. The old Monks road was via Cliftonhill (an area now in neighbouring Coatbridge), Airdrie House (now the site of Monklands Hospital), Aitchison Street, High Street, Hallcraig, Flowerhill and Colliertree. It was along this road that the first houses in Airdrie were built. Development was slow and it was only around 1650 that evidence of the number of inhabitants was known at around 500 for the Airdrie area.

Airdrie first came to prominence for its weaving industry. Airdrie Weavers Society was founded in 1781 and flax was being grown in sixteen farms in and around the burgh. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, coalmining was in progress and around thirty colliers were employed. Weaving continued to flourish making up a substantial part of the population of over 2,500 around the turn of the 19th century. The rapid pace of population growth continued and by 1821 there were 4,862 inhabitants. At this time the number of houses being built increased dramatically and in 1821, by a private Act of Parliament, Airdrie became a free and independent Burgh of Barony. Due to the fact it was "independent", it had all the powers of a Royal Burgh.

Voting in the early part of the nineteenth century was rather hit or miss as not only locals but residents outside the burgh were allowed to vote. It was not popular at any rate with only thirty-eight attending the election meeting. In 1821 the first election of a town council took place and by August it had appointed an assessor, procurator fiscal, master of police and a town crier.

In 1824 it was decided to build the Town House, which is now a local landmark known as the “town clock.” In 1832 the Town House was used as a hospital due to the cholera outbreak of this year. It was originally designed by Alexander Baird.

By 1850, the population had grown to 12,418.

1850 to 1920

The enormous growth in population was not due to high birthrate, but instead due to an influx of residents from the Highlands and predominantly Ireland. This followed the potato famine of the mid 1840s and also reflected the change from cottage industry to heavy industry in the area. Most of the Irish immigrant population were involved with mining and labouring. This led to an increase in ironwork foundries around the area. Because of this explosion in industry, railway links were soon established (circa 1830) and by 1862, the Airdrie and Bathgate Junction Railway provided a direct link to Edinburgh with Airdrie South Station providing the starting point for trains to Glasgow.

In August the Public Libraries Act (Scotland) 1853 was passed, and in November Airdrie Public Library was the first in Scotland.

An evolution of the rise in population and industry prompted for more accessible water supplies. Until the mid 1800s, various wells were put in place feeding from surrounding streams in the area. These served to provide many houses with private wells. By 1846 Airdrie and Coatbridge Water Company was founded to construct (along with Forth and Clyde Canal Company) the reservoir at Roughrigg.

Around the mid 1800s, several local newspapers began appearing and notably the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, which is still the most popular local paper today. Also at this time, football and cricket began to emerge as popular sports. Owing to the formation of the Football under Association rules and through this beginning, Excelsior (the local football team until then) became Airdrieonians F.C. in 1878. Race meetings were also held in the town (1851 - 1870) but this land became the golf course for the newly formed Airdrie Golf Club in 1877 (which later moved site to and Glenmavis in 1884).

Education posed a major problem with severe overcrowding in the few schools available, therefore three new school boards were established. Fees were routinely charged within the schools with the belief they should be self-supporting until the Act of 1889 when some of the infant classes in schools were relieved of this burden. Airdrie Academy was built in 1895 and by 1919 all school boards were dissolved and Lanarkshire Education Authority took over responsibility for education throughout Lanarkshire.

Airdrie Public Observatory, one of only four public observatories in the UK - all in Scotland, was founded in the first library building in 1896, and is still operated in the present building by ASTRA, a Scottish space-flight society and registered charity.

By the turn of the century and certainly by 1910, variety shows were becoming popular in the area and by 1911 the Pavilion in Graham Street was built which after initially being used as a music hall started showing cinematographic pictures. Unfortunately it was destroyed by fire in 1917 but was rebuilt in 1919 (closed in 1970 for re-development). The New Cinema was opened in 1920 in Broomknoll Street but has since closed. The town had no suitable venue for larger functions so in 1912 the Sir John Wilson Town Hall was opened (following a generous offer from Sir John Wilson covering the total cost of 13,500 GBP). This still stands and is used for major events in the town.

1920 onwards

At the end of the First World War, Airdrie was hard hit with many casualties from the war and also many inhabitants emigrated. The population only rose by 3% to around 26,000 by 1931. The depression years had made a great impact on the town and several well known manufacturers ceased to exist and few replaced them. It was reported that 50% of the registered population were unemployed. The Church groups tried to provide some comfort for the poor folk in the area and set up educational and work experience projects to help and by 1936 the Airdrie Churches Council had attracted national interest through their work culminating in a building in Graham Street being provided for them (Mutual Service Club). This is now Airdrie Community Centre.

Airdrie Public Library, the first public library in Scotland, was eventually built on its present site in 1925 after years of moving from one site to another.

Conditions in the town did not really improve until well after the Second World War but in 1949 a major pharmaceutical company (Boots Pure Drug Co. Ltd) and Banner Textiles Ltd were attracted to the town (between them employing 1200). With this impetus, new companies began to consider Airdrie as a viable option for business and in 1958 Pye Scottish Communications Ltd opened employing over 1000 people. The emergence of industrial estates was also prevalent around this time. (Newhouse; Chapelhall; Brownsburn) A well known building in the town is Airdrie Arts Centre - opened in 1967, it is still a popular venue for concerts and plays.

The 1970s saw the opening of Monklands Hospital, which replaced the one on Airdrie House estate that had been closed in 1962 and demolished in 1964.

Modern Airdrie

Airdrie town centre has changed much in the last 10 years with a new road scheme and a shift in emphasis with the type of shopping it offers. Graham Street, the main pedestrianised street, has recently been refurbished and has had the pedestrian precinct area upgraded. New housing complexes are being built around this suitably situated commuter town and notably in Chapelhall, Rochsoles and Glenmavis, the former Boots factory site in Rawyards and the former Imperial Tube Works in Cairnhill.


The town's major football club is Airdrie United, who play in the First Division of the Scottish Football League, and are based at the Excelsior Stadium. They were formed as a replacement for Airdrieonians, who folded in 2002.


Airdrie is represented by several tiers of elected government. North Lanarkshire Council, the unitary local authority for Airdrie, is based at Motherwell, and is the executive, deliberative and legislative body responsible for local governance. The Scottish Parliament is responsible for devolved matters such as education, health and justice,cite web |url= |title=Reserved and devolved matters |publisher=Scotland Office |accessdate=2006-11-14] while reserved matters are dealt with by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.


The town forms part of the burgh constituency of Airdrie and Shotts, electing one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In 2005, changes to the constituency saw the loss of some territory to Motherwell and Wishaw constituency whilst gaining part of Hamilton North and Bellshill constituency.

The area that the Airdrie and Shotts constituency now envelops has had a prominent place on the front benches of the House of Commons at Westminster with high profile ministers and members of Her Majesty's Government.
*The Rt. Hon. John Smith QC MP for North Lanarkshire 1970-1983 and Monklands East 1983-1994 (Eastern Coatbridge and Airdrie area). Former Shadow Chancellor and then leader of the Labour party until his untimely death in 1994.
*The Rt. Hon. Helen Liddell MP for Monklands East 1994-1999, Airdrie and Shotts 1999-2005. Former Secretary of State for Scotland and currently Britain's High Commissioner in Australia.
*The Rt. Hon. Dr. John Reid MP for Airdrie and Shotts 2005-present. Former high profile member of government who has held various ministerial posts including the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (the first Catholic to do so) and the Secretary of State for the Home Department (the Home Secretary). Currently, a backbencher and Chairman of Celtic FC who announced his intention to stand down as MP for Airdrie and Shotts at the next general electioncite web|url=$478482.htm|title=John Reid to quit MP role at next election |publisher=|accessdate=2008-10-05] .

cottish Parliament

For the purposes of the Scottish Parliament, Airdrie forms part of the Airdrie and Shotts constituency. This has slightly different boundaries than that of the UK Parliement constituency of the same name. The current member of the Scottish Parliament for Airdrie and Shotts is Karen Whitefield, who has held the seat since the instatement of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

In addition to this Airdrie is represented by seven regional MSPs from the Central Scotland electoral region. [cite web|url=||title=Central Scotland Regional MSPs|accessdate=2008-05-28|date=] .

Local government

Up until 1975, Airdrie had its own Burgh Council. Between 1975 and 1996, Airdrie came under Monklands District Council which operated as part of Strathclyde Regional Council. Monklands District Council was headquartered in the Coatbridge Municipal Building. After 1996, it became under the authority of North Lanarkshire Council. Currently, the council is in control of the Labour group and the leader of the council is Jim McCabe, councillor for Thorniewood.


Boots closed their factory in 2004 and housing and a new school are being constructed on the site. Albert Bartlett & Sons have expanded their fresh produce operations to a new site on the Stirling Road towards Cumbernauld which vastly increases their presence in the town. The headquarters of beCogent Group, a major leader in telesales and virtual help-desking is within the Cairnhill area of the town, in part of the former Pye factory.


According to the 2001 Census, Airdrie's population of 36,326 was:
*47.31 male, 52.69% female.
*20.7% were under 16, 16.67% were pensioners.
*46.61% were married (first marriage), 29.81% were single.
*95.74% were born in Scotland or described their nationality as Scottish.
*only 0.42% spoke Gaelic.


Airdrie railway station is on the electrified North Clyde Line. This railway provides a frequent train service to Glasgow via Coatbridge and Easterhouse. In 2010, the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link is due to open. This will provide Airdrie with a direct commuter train service to Bathgate, Livingston (North) and Edinburgh Waverley.

Airdrie has transport links to Cumbernauld, Glasgow, and East Kilbride, but locally is poorly served by local bus operators who came to do service work with the withdrawal of routes by First Glasgow.

In Chapelhall, the EuroCentral link for Europe allows direct links with Europe by rail and road connecting to London and onto France.

Notable residents

*Bill Adam, racing driver
*Ian Bannen, actor
*Sandy Clark, footballer
*Ryan Dalziel, racing driver
*Ross Davidson, actor
*Emily Gerard, writer. Works inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula and coined the term Nosferatu.
*Brian McClair, footballer
*Ross and Russell Clarke, ballet dancers.

ee also

*Airdrie Public Library
*Airdrie Public Observatory
*Airdrie Savings Bank
*Bishops' Conference of Scotland
*Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland - largely headquartered in Airdrie
*Scottish Independence Party - headquartered in Airdrie
*Vulcandn - The world's first iron boat was constructed in Airdrie and launched into Monklands Canal in 1819.


*Begg, E. and Rich, D. (1991) "On the Trail of Merlin". ISBN 0-85030-939-5
*Geddes, C.M. (1995) "Airdrie 300:A Souvenir Brochure". Motherwell: Monklands Library Services. ISBN 0-946120-29-3
*Hutton, G. (1997) "Lanarkshire's Mining Legacy". Catrine: Stenlake Publishing. ISBN 1-84033-015-5
*McCutcheon, C. (1994) "Old Airdrie". Catrine: Stenlake Publishing. ISBN 1-872074-34-0
*Moir, H. (2001) "Airdrie". Stroud: Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-2368-1
*Scobbie, J.K. (1985) "Book of Airdrie"'. Motherwell: Monklands Library Services. ISBN 0-946120-08-0
*Wilson, R. (1997) "Old Airdrie Villages". Catrine: Stenlake Publishing. ISBN 1-84033-004-X

External links

* [ Local information portal]
* [ Airdrie web page]

ee also

*List of places in North Lanarkshire

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