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New Cumnock named Scotland's most dismal town

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March 27 2013

New Cumnock named Scotland's most dismal town
With previous Carbuncle winners Denny and Linwood benefitting from some much needed cosmetic surgery the Carbuncles team ( have been busy scouring the land for a new holder of the ‘most dismal town in Scotland’ title. Hundreds of Urban Realm readers got in touch to point the finger at dozens of the nation’s grottiest nooks and crannies but ultimately there can be only one ‘winner’. It gives us absolutely no pleasure in announcing therefore that New Cumnock, Ayrshire, has been awarded this year’s trophy.

No stranger to The Carbuncle Award New Cumnock was last nominated back in 2009, when it narrowly missed out to Glenrothes. Since then the town has taken one step forward and two steps back with the completion of an impressive new primary school overshadowed by the threatened closure of its town hall and sell-off of the Arthur Memorial church spire - on its 100th anniversary no less.

These losses have been compounded by the continued haemorrhaging of shops on the High Street and a general absence of maintenance on derelict properties, raising the very real risk that a tipping point’ into irreversible decline could be reached soon if action isn’t taken now.

New Cumnock is also facing headwinds from the Prince Charles backed Knockroon development which threatens to suck the remaining life from the town. It also needs to reassess a policy of managed decline which is in danger of becoming a self-sustaining prophecy and seek a new role in the wider Ayrshire economy, be that as a tourism destination or commuter town courtesy of its excellent rail connections.

Local resident and historian Geoff Crolley, who accepted the award on behalf of the community, said: "Towns like New Cumnock have given so much to businesses and what do we have to show for it? If we count up what monies have been taken from our parish by WORF & Co (windfarms, opencasts, reservoir, forestry & Co-op) in the last decade and look at our main street. We need help to regenerate the town but can't do it all by ourselves and thankfully some companies are offering help and advice. 2013 is our turning point!"

Urban Realm editor John Glenday added: “The coal may have been exhausted long ago but the energy of locals is as strong as ever, this more than anything saw our judges warm to their plight.

“We have been following New Cumnock and the challenges they face for four years now, giving us a real sense of perspective on the challenges faced. As the Carbuncles Award has matured however so too has our approach and we believe that with the help of this award we can dig New Cumnock out from the back of the proverbial couch and put it to the fore of regional and national policy.

“More than an escape valve for pent up frustrations the Carbuncles are a springboard to tangible improvements. There are no quick fixes however and I make no pretensions to the contrary, it's taken years for New Cumnock to get to this point and it will take years to put right but the sooner these issues are tackled the sooner they can be resolved.“

Runners up in this year’s Awards were Fort William, Kirkintilloch, Motherwell, Newmilns and Paisley.

A handover ceremony will take place today outside New Cumnock town hall at noon. Photography by Mark Chalmers.
The recession has ravaged New Cumnock's High Street more than most
The recession has ravaged New Cumnock's High Street more than most
The spire of the Arthur Memorial Church is to be dismantled and sold off
The spire of the Arthur Memorial Church is to be dismantled and sold off


Rena Gall
#1 Posted by Rena Gall on 28 Mar 2013 at 08:10 AM
did you ask yourself who made it that way margaret thatcher took the wook away from new cumnock closed the pits and took our factorys out by giving the textile to foreign parts why not print way it went down hill
#2 Posted by wonky on 28 Mar 2013 at 11:40 AM
Hoots! Help ma Boab! Yae must be aff yer heid's if yae hink auld Cumnock's a mingin toon. Thon Auchinleck maybeez, bit no Cummy ataw. Av spint miny a braw nicht ower Cumnock wi' guid neebors- this kinna palaver jist scunners me and brings doon the guid fowk ae the toon.

Seriously though Rena your opinion might not be shared in a part of the world where the Tory's still pick up 25% of the vote ( a county constituency that has registered UKIP on its political radar)- why do the Tory's still feature so prominently in that part of the world? Has it anything to do with Unionism and the Orange Order? Politics is about voting loyalty, and who is going to be loyal to a constituency that votes against its own interests?
The SNP for example have a majority at Holyrood and yet they can see themselves pick up half the vote of the Tory's in your part of the world- why then would they care what happens in Carrick & Cumnock?
#3 Posted by wonky on 28 Mar 2013 at 11:42 AM
That first picture looks like something out of Tarkovsky's seminal filmic masterpiece 'The Stalker' Cumnock deep inside the zone?
William Taylor
#4 Posted by William Taylor on 28 Mar 2013 at 13:29 PM
New Cumnock is the home town of Sir Tom Hunter, one of the richest men in Scotland. I would be interested to know if he has helped in any way to stop this deterioration of a once-proud mining community, or dipped his hand in his pocket at any time.
Claire Mckeesick
#5 Posted by Claire Mckeesick on 28 Mar 2013 at 19:35 PM
Well from new Cumnock my self I know it well and some of the places in new Cumnock have lovely scenery and if you think this is bad take a wee look at haurperhay
#6 Posted by David on 5 Apr 2013 at 12:25 PM
William, why should he?
#7 Posted by Geoff on 11 Apr 2013 at 17:03 PM
The only way I can see out of New Cumnocks' predicament is through outdoor pursuits and this, as far as I can see, is helped immensely by the attractions of Dumfries House Estate & Craigengillen Estate, not hindered as suggested in an earlier post.
Maureen Boud (née Smith)
#8 Posted by Maureen Boud (née Smith) on 31 Jul 2013 at 15:41 PM
In reply to David's comment "Why should he?" We'll the concept of "giving back" is a good one, and Tam kens his bread was buttered whilst growing up in New Cumnock by the residents who spent their hard earned wages in his Father's grocery store. That being said . Hi memory is far from short ,and he has helped out . But every project has to be judged on it's merits. he can't just throw good money after bad. However although I believe New Cumnock's problems run much deeper than its facade ,I agree that a face lift might kickstart renewal. All the best to New Cumnock.

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