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Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Ràthais[1]

Top: Floral display, Riverside Park Left: Town centre clock tower, Middle top: "Hippos Parade" sculpture, Middle bottom: St Columba's Church and Raeburn Heights, Right: River Leven Bridge, Bottom: War memorial gardens
Glenrothes is located in Fife
 Glenrothes shown within Fife
Area  8 sq mi (21 km2)
Population 39,277 [2]
   – density  4,910/sq mi (1,900/km2)
OS grid reference
   – Edinburgh  32 mi (51 km) 
   – London  444 mi (715 km) 
Council area Fife
Lieutenancy area Fife
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district KY6, KY7
Dialling code 01592
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Glenrothes
Scottish Parliament Mid Fife and Glenrothes
List of places

Glenrothes (   ; , ; Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Ràthais) is a town situated in the heart of Fife, in east-central Scotland. It is located approximately 30 miles (48 km) from both Edinburgh, which lies to the south and Dundee to the north. The town had a population of 39,277 in 2011 as recorded by the census, making it the third largest settlement in Fife and one of the top 20 most populous settlements in Scotland. The name Glenrothes comes from its historical link with the Earl of Rothes who owned much of the land upon 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.

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. Following the failure of the mine 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 non-departmental public body, was established to develop, manage and promote the new town. The GDC supported by the local authority oversaw the governance of Glenrothes until the wind-up of the GDC in 1995, after which all responsibility was transferred to Fife Council.

Glenrothes is the administrative capital of Fife containing both the Fife Council and

  • Fife Today
  • [2] (A selection of archive films about Glenrothes)

External links

  • Cowling, David (1997). An Essay for Today – The Scottish New Towns 1947-1997 (1st ed.). Edinburgh: Rutland Press.  
  • Ferguson, Keith (1982). A History of Glenrothes (1st ed.). Glenrothes: Glenrothes Development Corporation.  
  • Ferguson, Keith (1996). A New Town's Heritage: Glenrothes 1948-1995 (1st ed.). Glenrothes: Glenrothes Development Corporation.  
  • Glenrothes Development Corporation (1966). Glenrothes – A Guide to Scotland's New Town in Fife. Glenrothes: Glenrothes Development Corporation. 
  • Glenrothes Development Corporation (1970). Glenrothes – New Town Masterplan Report. Glenrothes: Glenrothes Development Corporation.  
  • Glenrothes Development Corporation (1983). Glenrothes Development Profile. Glenrothes: Glenrothes Development Corporation.  
  • Omand, Donald (2000). The Fife Book. Edinburgh: Birlinn Publishing.  
  • Pride, Glen L. (1998). Kingdom of Fife (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Rutland Press.  
  • Reid, Emma (2004). Old Glenrothes- Old buildings, farms and villages in the area which became the New Town of Glenrothes (1st ed.). Cupar: Fife Family History Society. 


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  106. ^ "The UK's First 100% Green Data Centre is Coming to Scotland". 16 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
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  108. ^ "Kyndal Group to partner with John Fife & Co to establish £6.7 million distillery project". 14 October 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  109. ^ "Work begins on new Glenrothes distillery". 4 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
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  120. ^ "Rothes Halls, Glenrothes". Fife Council. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
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  126. ^ "Your Town - Glenrothes". Retrieved 17 March 2009. 
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  128. ^ "Glenrothes Gala". Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  129. ^ "Riverside Park Summer Festival". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  130. ^ "Markinch Highland Games". Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  131. ^ "Riverside Park Winter Festival". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
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A purposely designed pedestrian and cycle system[192] was also created using a network of ring and radial routes throughout the town.[186] 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.[193] 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.[194]

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.[189] Two railway stations on the edge of the main town serve the Glenrothes area - Glenrothes with Thornton railway station and Markinch railway station.[188] Glenrothes is home to an airfield, Fife Airport (ICAO code EGPJ), which is used for general aviation with private light aircraft.[190] Edinburgh Airport is the nearest international airport to Glenrothes, Dundee Airport operates daily flights to London, Birmingham and Belfast.[191]

A tarmac runway is shown in the background. A small single engine plane is parked in the forecourt
Fife (Glenrothes) Airport

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.[13] Local campaigners have for a number of years sought the upgrade of the A92 north of Glenrothes.[187] 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.[188] The B921 Kinglassie Road, described in early masterplans as the Southern Freeway,[186] 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 duelled connections to the A92 Chapel junction in Kirkcaldy,[186] however this has never been implemented.

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.[186] Another element that was adopted was the use of roundabouts at junctions instead of traffic lights which would allow traffic to flow freely.[186]

A bus concourse with bus station building to the left. The bus station has blue cladding and glass and a lantern feature on the roof with a clock and windvane
Glenrothes Bus Station


Further education in the town is provided at Fife College; created in August 2013 from the merger between the former Adam Smith College and Carnegie College which was based in Dunfermline.[183] 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.[173] The Glenrothes campus of the college is located at Stenton Road in Viewfield. A smaller campus also exists within the Southfield Industrial Estate.[184] The Stenton Road Campus was significantly extended in 2010 with the development of the "Future Skills Centre". This centre includes new 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.[185]

A contemporary building constructed with glass and steel with silver and coloured cladding set in mature landscape
Fife College Glenrothes Campus

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.[173] 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.[175] 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.[176][177] Auchmuty High School serves the east and southern parts of Glenrothes as well as the villages of Markinch, Coaltown of Balgonie and Thornton.[178] As part of the £126 million Building Fife's Future Project a replacement for Auchmuty was completed and opened to pupils in 2013.[179] Glenrothes High School serves the central and northern areas in the town.[180] Glenwood High School serves the western parts of Glenrothes and the villages of Leslie and Kinglassie.[181] Catholic pupils in Glenrothes attend St Andrew's High School in neighbouring Kirkcaldy.[182]

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.[173] The first primary school to be opened in Glenrothes was Carleton Primary School, built in 1953 in Woodside.[18] In total thirteen primary schools were developed in the town, twelve of which are non-denominational and one which serves catholic pupils.[56][173] In February 2014 Fife Council's Executive Committee voted to close one of Glenrothes' primary schools at Tanshall. This was done as part of a wider school estate review which sought to reduce costs. The closure has faced considerable local opposition and the proposals were called-in by the Scottish Government, but it was subsequently announced that the closure of the school would go ahead as planned.[174]

A contemporary school building constructed with glass, brick and steel with white rendering.
The new Auchmuty High School completed summer 2013


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.[172]

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 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.[169][170] 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[171] acts as a landmark at the south-western gateway to the town centre.

Modernist Church coated with white render with large modern stained glass window and a wooden cross protruding from the roof of the two storey tower element of the building
St. Paul's R.C. Church, Glenrothes

There are a number of former stately homes located in Glenrothes. Balbirnie House, the category-A listed[156] Balfour family to be developed as Balbirnie Park and golf course.[132][157][158] 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[159] of the house was converted into a craft centre.[132] Balgeddie House, a C-Listed[160] former Edwardian residence of Sir Robert Spencer Nairn located in the northwest of the town, has also been converted into a high quality hotel.[19] Leslie House, the category-A listed[161] 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.[162] 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.[8]

Balbirnie House Hotel, Balbirnie Park

Glenrothes is home to the remains of ancient stone circles which can be seen at Balbirnie[153] and Balfarg[154] 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.[155] The henge was excavated between 1977 and 1978 prior to the development of a new housing estate.[155] 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.[155] The stone circle has been carbon dated as being from the bronze age.[61] It is thought that the Balbrinie stone circle and the Balfarg circle once formed part of a larger ceremonial complex.[155]

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.[56] 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.[110][144] A number of other sculptures were relocated in 2011 to more visually prominent locations around the town creating new landmarks.[145][146] Four pieces of Glenrothes artworks have been awarded listed status by Historic Scotland.[147] "Ex Terra" has been listed at Category B[148] and the "The Birds", "The Henge" and "Work" (or Industry, Past and Present) at Category C.[149][150][151] Historic Scotland has also produced a website, a video and an information brochure dedicated to the Glenrothes town art.[45][152]

Fibre glass sculpture depicting four giant flowers, two blue and two yellow
"Giant Irises", Leslie Roundabout

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.[141] 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.[142] The bridge was constructed by Balfour Beatty Construction (Scotland) and it was the first reinforced-concrete cable-stayed structure ever built in the UK.[143]


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.[140] 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.

Glenrothes has a twin-town link with Böblingen, a city in Baden-Württemberg in Germany since 1971.[138] As early as 1962 a local councillor had suggested that the town might "twin" with a town on the Continent.[139] 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.[139]

Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre

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.[132][136] 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.[137]

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.[56][65][132][133] The new centre was named after the late SNP Councillor Michael Woods in a controversial decision taken by the Glenrothes Area Committee in 2012.[134] 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.[135]

Riverside Park
Riverside Park during the 2012 summer festival

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.[126][127] 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.[128] 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.[129] 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[130] and the other surrounding villages host their own annual gala days and festivals.[131]

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.[125]

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.[124]

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.[123]

two storey silver clad building set behind an internal glazed square with circular floor feature
Rothes Halls, Kingdom Centre

The Rothes Halls complex is the town's main theatre, exhibition, conference and civic centre venue.[120][121] The town's central 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.[122]

The town has won numerous awards locally and nationally for the quality of its landscaping;[39][42] something that is promoted by the "Take a Pride in Glenrothes" (TAPIG) group.[40] The Glenrothes Development Corporation devoted around one third of land in Glenrothes to the provision of open space.[65] As a consequence the town has numerous parks, the largest being Balbirnie Park,[113] Carleton Park,[114] Gilvenbank Park,[115] Riverside Park,[116] and Warout Park.[117][118] The Lomond Hills Regional Park borders and enters the town to the north and east.[119]

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.[45] Two town artists, David Harding (1968–78) and Malcolm Robertson (1978–91), were employed in the lifetime of the GDC.[110] Both artists, supported by a number of assistants, created a large variety of artworks and sculptures that are scattered throughout the town.[111] Other artists have also contributed to the creation of the town's artworks.[66] The first sculpture erected in Glenrothes was "Ex Terra", created by Benno Schotz.[112] "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.[110]

Bronze sculpture in the form of a mother with her children growing from the earth and reaching to the sky. A representation of the town's Latin motto; Ex terra vis. The sculpture is surrounded by colourful flower beds
"Ex Terra" sculpture

Culture and community

Indian beverages group Kyndal has entered into a joint venture with John Fergus & Co Ltd to establish a new malt distillery and bonded warehouse facility in Glenrothes. The new distillery, to be named Inchdairnie, will focus on exporting to markets in India, Africa and the Far East and will create 15 new jobs as well as generate new exports worth a predicted £3.6 million to Scotland over the next three years. It is expected to be operational by 2015 and will be located at Whitehill Industrial Estate adjacent to Fife Airport.[108][109]

Glenrothes is to be home to the UK's First 100% Green Data Centre which is to be built at Queensway Business Park.[105] This has been hailed as an extremely significant economic development for the area and a strategically important part of Scotland's IT infrastructure as a whole. The £40 million development will create up to 250 construction jobs and around 50 full-time skilled technology and engineering jobs when completed in just over a year. 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.[106][107]

A Glenrothes town centre action plan has been developed to create a vision for the wider town centre area. This was informed by a summit that was held in March 2013 which was attended by representatives of the local business community, voluntary groups and other individuals with an interest in the future of Glenrothes Town Centre. In May 2013, it was agreed at Glenrothes Area Committee to approve the Glenrothes Town Centre Action Plan. A range of projects are being delivered to assist in the regeneration of the town centre.[103][104]

Regeneration and future development

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.[87] Balbirnie House Hotel and Balgeddie House Hotel are the largest hotel operators in the immediate area.[82] The Golden Acorn Hotel and pub is located at the eastern end of the town centre on North Street.[102] Finance and professional employed represent 15.6% of the total number of jobs in the town.[91]

The town centre has expanded beyond its original boundaries into the adjacent Queensway employment area. A number of commercial operators including the town's major supermarkets and a large bingohall complex are located in Queensway.[100] The town's largest retail employers are Asda and Morrisons, which both trade from large stores at Queensway.[82] 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.[101]

Shopping mall entrance with glazed roof and brown brick paved public space
Kingdom Shopping Centre

Retail jobs accounted for approximately 11% of the total number of jobs in the local economy in 2011.[87] The majority of shopping, retail services and administrative facilities in Glenrothes are concentrated in the town centre (central business district). The Kingdom Centre provides the main shopping element of the town centre containing approximately 100 shop units and is anchored by a Dunnes department store. Community and commercial leisure facilities within the shopping centre include the Rothes Halls complex; the town's theatre, library, civic and exhibition centre. A cinema, restaurant, pub and bingo hall complex are located adjacent to the shopping centre at Carrick Gate/Church Street.[98] Ten-pin bowling facilities will also be available in the town centre with an announcement to refurbish and reopen the former Fraser bowling alley facility at Albany Gate.[99]

Retail and service industries

A number of public service 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.[96] HM Revenue and Customs, Kingdom Housing Association and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) also have offices in Glenrothes at Pentland Park; a business park within the town.[97] Fife College is also a key employer in Glenrothes with a large campus based at Stenton Road adjacent to Viewfield Industrial Estate.[82] 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.[48]

Public sector

Two-storey office building made with facing brick, glass and dark blue cladding set in mature landscape
Police Scotland Fife Division HQ, Viewfield

In 2011 manufacturing accounted for almost 15% of employment in Glenrothes.[91] A number of high tech industrial companies are located in Glenrothes largely specialised in electronics manufacturing. These are what remain of the clustering of Silicon Glen operations in the area which has gradually reduced and consolidated since the peak in the late 1990s.[56] Remaining companies specialised in this sector include Brand Rex which specialises in the development of fibre optic cabling,[92] Compugraphics which develops photomasks for the microelectronics sector,[93] Regenersis which provides technology repair and test services[94] and Semefab which produces Micro Electric Mechanical Systems (MEMS).[95] Other major companies which have established a base in Glenrothes include Bosch Rexroth (hydraulics manufacturing), FiFab (precision engineering) and Raytheon (defence industry/electronics).[87]

Glenrothes Industry Employed compared according to UK Census 2011[78][91]
Glenrothes Fife Scotland
Area Committee[80] 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%

Manufacturing and engineering industries

The Glenrothes area's economy predominantly comprises manufacturing industries, health and public sector jobs and service sector jobs.[87] The number of people employed in Glenrothes is around 24,700;[87] approximately 15% of the 163,000 jobs in Fife.[88] Glenrothes is recognised for having the main concentration of specialist manufacturing and engineering companies in Fife.[3] There are a total of 46 Top 200 Fife Businesses currently located in Glenrothes. 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 [89] with the largest concentrations of premises in the south of the town and in around the town centre.[82][90] Major employment areas in Glenrothes include: Bankhead, Eastfield, Pentland Park, Queensway, Southfield, Viewfield, Westwood Park and Whitehill.[56]


The number of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants in the Glenrothes area was 894 representing a 2.7% rate at June 2015.[83] This compares with 739 JSA claimants in December 2014[84] and 970 JSA claimants in June 2014.[85] Glenrothes was recorded to have the largest month-on-month decline in claimants of the all the Fife Committee areas in mid-2015.[83] Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) figures indicate that Auchmuty, Cadham, Collydean, Macedonia and Tanshall areas in Glenrothes fall within the 10-15% banding of deprived communities in Scotland.[86] Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation figures in 2012 records the percentage of local population that is employment deprived at 14.5% against a Fife and Scottish Average of 12.8%. The percentage of the local population that is income deprived in 2012 was recorded at 15.7% against a Fife and Scottish average of 13.4%.[81]

A study undertaken by Heriot-Watt University in 2008 showed a local average gross weekly wage of £450 in the Glenrothes area, against a Fife average of £449 and a Scottish average of £468.[81] Wages are reflective of the type of jobs available locally, including higher than average employment in manufacturing and the public sector.[82] The working age population of the town in 2011 was 29,079. The percentage of population economically active in Glenrothes was recorded at 68.2% in 2011.[2]

The 2001 census recorded the population of Glenrothes at 38,679 representing 11% of Fife's total population.[79] The 2011 census recorded a 1.5% population rise to 39,277.[2] The total population in the wider Glenrothes area[80] was estimated at 50,701 based on 2013 mid-year estimates from the National Records of Scotland.[81] The number of households in Glenrothes in 2011 was recorded at 16,910; 64.5% of which were owned. The age groups from 30-44 year olds (20.2%) and 45-59 year olds (21.3%) form the largest portion of the population. 16-29 year olds made up 16.6% of the town's population.[78]

Glenrothes compared according to UK Census 2011[78]
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%

In 1950 the population in the Glenrothes designated area was approximately 1,000 people who were located in the hamlets of Woodside and Cadham and in the numerous farm steadings that were spread throughout the area.[75] Population growth in the early phases of the town was described as being slow due to the dependence on the growth of work places at the Rothes Colliery. In 1960 the town population was shown to have increased to 12,499 people rising to 28,098 by 1969.[75] The town experienced its greatest levels of population growth between 1964 and 1969 with an average inward migration level of 1,900 persons per annum.[76] In 1981 Glenrothes' population was estimated to have risen to 35,000[76] and at the time the GDC was disbanded in 1995 it was estimated that the town's population stood at just over 40,000 people.[77]


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.[74] 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.[74]


The Mid Fife Local Plan adopted in 2012 is guiding the future development of the town. This identifies land in the east and west of the settlement as well as in surrounding villages for the development of approximately 1,800 new houses. There are also proposals for renewal and development in the town centre and for upgrading the industrial estates and business parks at Queensway, Westwood Park and Whitehill.[73]

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.[72] 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.[72] 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.[56] Landscaping around the town included the blending of housing into the northern hillside through the use of structural planting and tree belts.[65]

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.[70] 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.[71]

late 1960s new town terraced housing in Glenrothes complete with concrete urban sculpture and segregated public footpath using Radburn housing layout technique
Late 1960s GDC housing in Pitteuchar

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.[68][69] 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.[13] 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.[18]

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.[66] Separating industry as far as possible from housing areas in planned industrial estates was a key element of early plans.[67] 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.[18]

Looking across one of the central residential areas of Glenrothes, which displays many of the characteristics of a typical 1950s new town layout based upon Garden City principles
Early 1950s GDC housing at Woodside Road

Built environment and urban form

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.[56][59] Areas of ancient woodland are found in Riverside Park and Balbirnie Park, both of which are also designated historic gardens and designed landscapes.[60] Balbirnie Park is renowned for having a large collection of rhododendron species.[61] Protected wildlife species found in the Glenrothes area include red squirrels,[62]water voles[63] and various types of bats.[64] 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.[65] Landscape planning has also ensured that Glenrothes' road network, with particular focuses on the town's many roundabouts, provides green networks throughout the town.[56]

Aerial image of southern Glenrothes (looking northwest) showing housing estates, industrial areas, road networks and green spaces and landscaping in the town. The Lomond Hills can be seen to the north
Aerial image of Glenrothes looking 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.[56] The height above mean sea level at the town centre is 300 feet (91 m).[57] 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).[58]

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.[55] 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.

View of Glenrothes seen in its landscape setting from a nearby cemetery. A train is leaving nearby Markinch Station on the East Coast Mainline. Glenrothes town centre with the numerous taller residential and office buildings can be seen in the centre of the image. The River Leven Bridge provides a stark white vertical emphasis on the right side of the image. The Lomond Hills regional park and rolling countryside form the backdrop on the horizon
View of Glenrothes seen from St. Drostan's Cemetery, Markinch in the foreground


Glenrothes forms part of the county constituency of Glenrothes, electing one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by the first past the post system. Peter Grant of the Scottish National Party is the MP for Glenrothes after being elected in the 2015 UK General Election.[51] For the purposes of the Scottish Parliament, Glenrothes forms part of the Mid Fife and Glenrothes constituency following the 2011 Scottish elections. This newly formed constituency replaces the former Central Fife constituency taking in the Leven, Largo and Kennoway ward and excluding the Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages ward.[52] Each constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election, and the region elects seven additional members to produce a form of proportional representation. The constituency is represented by Tricia Marwick, MSP and Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, of the Scottish National Party.[53][54]

Glenrothes is represented by a number of tiers of elected government. North Glenrothes Community Council and Pitteuchar, Stenton and Finglassie Community Council form the lowest tier of governance whose statutory role is to communicate local opinion to local and central government.[46] Glenrothes now lies within one of the 32 council areas of Scotland. Fife Council is the executive, deliberative and legislative body responsible for local governance in the region and has its main headquarters based in Glenrothes.[47][48] Council meetings take place in Fife House (formerly known as Glenrothes House) in the town centre. The west wing of the building was built by the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC) as their offices in 1969, which was later used as the headquarters of Fife Regional Council.[49] Since the last Scottish election in 2012, Fife Council is governed by a minority Labour Party, claiming a total of 35 seats, with the support of Conservative Party and Independent Councillors.[50]

[9] In the early years of the creation of the new town the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC) with input from the local authority, then Fife County Council, oversaw the governance of the new town. In the early 1990s the then

Six-storey office building with facing brick, glass and silver cladding with clock feature.
Fife House, headquarters of Fife Council


[45] 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

Public perception of new town's generally, including Glenrothes, has been subject to considerable debate with a broad spectrum of opinions and views presented on the perceived successes and failures of new towns since they were conceived.[33] 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".[34][35] 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.[36]

The GDC left a lasting legacy on the town by overseeing the development of 15,378 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.[9] Since the demise 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.

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.[24] The Silicon Glen era peaked in the 1990s with Canon developing their first UK manufacturing plant at Westwood Park in Glenrothes in 1992.[12] ADC Telecommunications, a major American electronics company, established a base at Bankhead in early 2000 with the promise of a substantial number of jobs.[29] By 2004 both companies had closed their Glenrothes operations with the promised jobs growth never materialising to any substantial level. The electronics industrial sector in Glenrothes and most of central Scotland was 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.[30] 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.[31][32]

Modern factory unit clad with white panels and tinted glass
Former ADC electronics plant, Bankhead

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.[25]

The coal mine's closure almost resulted in further development of Glenrothes being stopped. However shortly following the closure Central Government decided to change the town's role by appointing Glenrothes as one of the economic focal points for Central Scotland as part of a National Plan for economic growth and development.[24] The Glenrothes Development Corporation were successful in attracting a plethora of 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.[25] A number of other important companies followed establishing Glenrothes as a major hub in Scotland's Silicon Glen.[26] During the middle of the 1970s, the town also became the headquarters of Fife Regional Council; effectively the county town of Fife, taking over the role from Cupar.[13][27][28]

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.[22] 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.[7] 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.[23]

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 [21] 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 no coincidence as they were sited originally to capitalise on the power provided by the River Leven.[20]

Papermills with chimney stacks
Former Tullis Russell Papermills

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 [17] and Woodside which were established to house workers at local paper mills. Originally the new town was going to be centred on Markinch; however the village's infrastructure was deemed unable to withstand the substantial growth required to realise a new town.[5] Leslie and Thornton were also considered as possible locations, but finally an area of 5,320 acres (2,153 ha) between all of these villages was zoned for the new town's development.[18] Much of the historical Aytoun, Balfour, Balgonie and Rothes estates were incorporated into Glenrothes' assigned area along with the historical country houses Balbirnie House, Balgeddie House and Leslie House.[19][20]

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.[13] The corporation board consisted of eight members including a chairman and deputy chairman.[14] The first meeting of the GDC was in Auchmuty House, provided by Tullis Russell on 20 June 1949.[15][16]

Glenrothes was designated in 1948 under the New Towns (Scotland) Act 1946 as Scotland's second post-war new town.[9][10] The case for developing the new town was largely driven by a national energy strategy created by the British Government following the Second World War.[11] 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.[7][12]

Glenrothes new town

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).[8]

Traditional garden city style
Cadham Village conservation area, built pre-Glenrothes

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.[5][6][7]




  • History 1
    • Toponymy 1.1
    • Glenrothes new town 1.2
  • Governance 2
  • Geography 3
    • Built environment and urban form 3.1
    • Geology 3.2
  • Demography 4
  • Economy 5
    • Manufacturing and engineering industries 5.1
    • Public sector 5.2
    • Retail and service industries 5.3
    • Regeneration and future development 5.4
  • Culture and community 6
  • Landmarks 7
  • Education 8
  • Transport 9
  • References 10
    • Notes 10.1
    • Bibliography 10.2
  • External links 11

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. Public facilities include a regional sports and leisure centre, two golf courses, major parks, a civic centre and theatre and a college campus. 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.

. Kingdom Shopping Centre, the indoor shopping centre is contained indoors, within Fife's largest town's centre Glenrothes is unique in Fife as the majority of the [4] (defence and electronics).Raytheon (education) and Fife College (hydraulics manufacturing), Brand Rex (fibre optics manufacturing), Bosch Rexroth Public services and service industries are also important to the town's economy. Major employers include [3]

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