Festival helps Cumbernauld celebrate new town’s history

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An exciting programme to mark three milestones in Cumbernauld’s creation will form part of the nationwide Festival of Museums this weekend.

The celebrations mark the 70th anniversary of the New Towns Act being passed, the 50th anniversary since the first sod for Cumbernauld was cut and the 40th anniversary of the town centre’s completion.

The triple celebration fits in neatly with the Festival of Museums theme of history, heritage and archeology.

And a number of celebrations are already underway to mark these milestones which will culminate this weekend.

Lu McNair, manager at Cumbernauld Museum, is helping to co-ordinate an exhibition of old images and plans of the town. It will be open at the museum from 1pm to 4pm on Friday.

Lu is hoping people will go along and share their memories.

Many of the images and plans on display were provided by North Lanarkshire Council’s archive department.

Lu aid: “The Festival of Museums for us is part of a larger festival celebrating the history of the town – ReimagiNation: Cumbernauld.

“Cumbernauld is a very successful place and we want to celebrate that.

“Everyone is welcome to come along and have a chat about their memories of living in the town.”

Cumbernauld has taken part in the festival for a few years but it is hoped this year’s triple celebration will generate additional interest in its historic importance.

ReimagiNation is designed to bring together writers, artists and theatre makers to capture the stories of people living here, in what was one of Scotland’s original New Towns.

It will culminate in a three-day festival at Cumbernauld Theatre and a number of other venues this Friday (May 19).

ReimagiNation started in March with two residency projects. Social historian and writer Daniel Gray linked up with users of CACE Older People Active Lives while children’s author Mike Nicholson worked with P5 and P6 pupils at Kildrum, St Mary’s, Carbrain and St Margaret of Scotland primary schools.

Both groups’ experiences of Ishbel McFarlane’s Plan helped them develop fresh stories, reimagining their home town in exciting and poignant new ways.

Stories from the residencies then fed back into ReimagiNation to provide new material for the exhibition this weekend.

Visitors and locals will be able to explore the stories and join in discussions on the future of the town, as well as a range of other fun, free creative experiences.

Theatre maker Ishbel McFarlane will offer open sessions of her new performance piece Plan – where everyone can design and build a settlement for displaced people – effectively recreating Cumbernauld for the 21st century.

A council spokeswoman said: “We’re excited by this new initiative – bringing together writers, artists and theatre makers with the people of Cumbernauld.

“It aims to capture the stories of the people living in and around Cumbernauld, culminating in a new three-day festival.”

Former Scottish Makar Liz Lochhead, who was once an art teacher in Cumbernauld, will lead a discussion about her poetry.

Other well known faces contributing include Denise Mina, Jenny Colgan and Graeme Macrae Burnet.

They will join audiences celebrating science fiction, crime writing, poetry, football and the stories of Cumbernauld’s residents.

* ReimagiNation: Cumbernauld, is part of the Booked! programme, supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The programme was developed following a survey – more than 400 people expressed an interest in the stories and architecture of the town.