Page last updated at 18:37 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 19:37 UK

Jewel in the crown of a kingdom

By Andrew Black
Political reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Early Glenrothes sign
Glenrothes aimed to be a self-sufficient community

From coal mining to marching hippos, Glenrothes is seen as one of the great success stories of all Scotland's new town projects.

But it has been a tough slog.

This community in the heart of Fife has managed to overcome the devastating and premature end of the mining industry with an ethos of re-invention that has seen Glenrothes through to its diamond anniversary.

The town, originally built to cater for about 33,000 people, currently has an estimated population of 40,000.

Taking in the Westminster constituency of the same name, Glenrothes was set up in 1948 as Scotland's second post-war new town, taking its name from the Earl of Rothes, whose family were local land owners.

Before boundary changes in 2005, the town was part of the old Central Fife seat, a constituency which lives on in the Scottish Parliament.

Famous sons

Unlike other new towns, such as Cumbernauld, Glenrothes was seen less as a Glasgow commuter town and more a self-sufficient community, built from scratch.

It sprung up to support Scotland's first "super pit", the Rothes Colliery.

Opening at Thornton in 1957, it was supposed to transform the economic fortunes of the area over its 100-year lifespan.

It employed more than 1,000 workers at its peak but, five years later, the mine was closed because of flooding and geological problems

It could have been the end of the town, but the Glenrothes Development Corporation, set up by the UK Government to oversee the fledgling new town, got straight to work and attracted several major electronics firms to set up there.

The quango continued to boost the town's profile until 1995, when Fife Council took over and Glenrothes lost its new town status.

Many people in Glenrothes work in manufacturing and administration and some signs of traditional industry, such as paper making, still remain.

The town diversified into electronics after mining

Today the town, which has branched out into the service sector, is the main employment and administrative centre of the Kingdom of Fife.

Despite the criticisms of dreary 20th century architecture which most new towns have had to endure, Glenrothes boasts several stately homes, including Balbirnie House, and Balgeddie House.

The decision to appoint a new town artist also led to all sorts of interesting art works springing up around the place, including the said marching hippos, which can be seen in several locations around Glenrothes.

The town is also not without its share of famous sons, including former Scottish first minister Henry McLeish and the actor Dougray Scott, who found fame and fortune in Holywood.

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