Glenrothes ( listen ; , glen-ROTH-iss; Scottish Gaelic: ) 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 Scotlands 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 Scotlands 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 Police Scotland Fife Division headquarters. Home to Fifes main concentration of specialist manufacturing and engineering companies, several organisations have their global headquarters based in Glenrothes. Public services and service industries are also important to the towns economy. Major employers include Bosch Rexroth (hydraulics manufacturing), Brand Rex (fibre optics manufacturing), Fife College (education), Raytheon (defence and electronics) and Tullis Russell (papermakers). Glenrothes is unique in Fife as the majority of the towns centre is contained indoors, within Fifes largest indoor shopping centre, the Kingdom Shopping Centre.
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 sports centre, two golf courses, a civic centre and theatre, a cinema 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.
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.
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 lies in mid-Fife between the agricultural "Howe of Fife" in the north and east and Fifes 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 Fifes other principal settlements, Dunfermline and St Andrews, at 19 miles (31 km) and 21 miles (34 km) away. Two of Scotlands 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).
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 towns many roundabouts, provides green networks throughout the town.
The Glenrothes areas economy predominantly comprises manufacturing industries, health and public sector jobs and service sector jobs. The number of people employed in Glenrothes is around 24,700; approximately 15% of the 163,000 jobs in Fife. Glenrothes is recognised for having the main concentration of specialist manufacturing and engineering companies in Fife. There are large concentrations of business 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. At 1 April 2010 there were a total of 916 office and industrial premises in and around Glenrothes, of which 680 (74%) were occupied.
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 towns 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 towns 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 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.
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.
The Rothes Halls complex is the towns main theatre, exhibition, conference and civic centre venue. The towns 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.
For a short period between 2006-2007, a community cinema operated at the Rothes Halls on a monthly basis. The success of this revived interest for a more permanent facility in the town again which resulted in the towns former cinema at Church Street reopening in 2010 giving the local population access to the latest film releases.
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 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 towns 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.
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.
Glenrothes has a twin-town link with Boblingen, a city in Baden-Wurttemberg 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 Boblingen 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. John Wallace, who became Principal of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in 2002 and is a famous trumpeter, played in the towns Tullis Russell Mills Band. 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 McLeishs resignation as First Minister in 2001.
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 towns 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.
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.
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.
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. Margarets Church in Woodside (category C listed), St. Pauls RC Church in Auchmuty (category A listed), and St. Columbas Church on Church Street (category A listed) in the town centre. St. Pauls 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 Columbas 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.