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Welcome to Cumbernauld – a town made famous for its controversial architecture and subsequently forming a characterful backdrop to the film Gregory’s Girl. The concrete settlement we know today rose from the formation of a designated New Town in December 1955.
It was a town designed to rehouse residents from deprived areas of Glasgow, conceived with lots of green spaces, communal social areas and centralised shopping and services. The planned population was 50,000, which was later ungraded to 70,000 after the area was expanded to include new land – and the design was for satellite neighbourhoods to be clustered around the town centre you see above.
Design-wise, Cumbernauld didn’t cover itself in glory. It won the ‘Plook on a Plinth’ award for terrible architecture, as well as the public vote in the Channel 4 series Demolition, which advocated flattening the entire town centre, describing it as the worst building in Britain. In fairness, much of that original shopping centre has now gone, although what remains is a fascinating insight into how poorly this complex has aged.
To get a further insight to the hopes and dreams of its designers, you’ll want to watch Cumbernauld: Town For Tomorrow, which is now online in its entirety.
So, tell us about the cars
In October 1975, the average British car park was rammed with UK-built cars, and this one is no exception. The Golden Eagle Hotel guests were a discerning lot because, alongside the Cortinas, Marinas and Vivas, are some interesting imports. That obviously reflects Scottish tastes, which traditionally were more outward looking than English ones, with a higher percentage of imports sold.
So, looking at the third row from the right, you’ll find a Saab 96, Opel Manta A and Renault 10. A couple of cars away from that threesome is a Saab 99, too, which looks right at home in 1975 – and yet completely timeless today. Facing that car is another Saab 99 and a Renault 5 – sold by Scotland’s most popular importer in 1975.
Other noteworthy cars include the early BMC 1100 and 1800 as well as a Chrysler 180, which somehow looks more stylish now than it did new. The Vauxhall Victor FD looks great towards the rear of the car park, while it’s hard not to smile when you clock that there’s a Mazda 1000 in there, too. Surprisingly popular then, almost extinct now.
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