The village of Twechar has had mixed fortunes since it grew up around the coal mining boom more than 150 years ago.
The community started life in around 1860 as a single row of workers’ houses on the south bank of the Forth and Clyde Canal.
It was the presence of the canal, along with rich seams of coal, which persuaded mining company William Baird and Co to move to the area and sink pits.
As the industry flourished, so did the village - with the Barrhill Rows added in around 1880. By 1900 there were more than 160 homes in the ‘miners rows’, which were improved in 1925 when homes with electric lighting and bathrooms were introduced.
Growth and housing improvements continued right up until the 1960s, when a decline in the mining industry led to a combination of social problems; including unemployment, a dropping population and a reliance on social housing.
The following decades were not kind to Twechar, with the Forth and Clyde Canal closing in 1963 and many local facilities following suit soon after.
But the start of the new millennium saw new hope for the area, when the closure of the local community centre acted as a catalyst for the creation of Twechar Community Action (TCA).
Backed by the community, the group secured the future of what was to become the Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre in 2001.
With the Forth and Clyde Canal reopened thanks to millennium funding there was a new confidence in Twechar, demonstrated in an ambitious masterplan created by TCA, which aimed to deliver “a stronger growing residential community rising to over 2,000 inhabitants, including a higher proportion of economically active people”.
Since them great headway has been made, with the Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre refurbished, mew homes built and local jobs created.
In 2009 East Dunbartonshire Council teamed up with developers Places For People and housing association Castle Rock Edinvar to demolish around 200 dilapidated council flats and replace them with modern housing.
More than 40 were completed in June last year, with the 55-home ‘Roman Fields’ development (named after the nearby Antonine Wall) expected to open in Spring 2014.
A spokesperson for Places for People said: “Twechar really is a lovely, safe community, a perfect place for the family to grow as the local school is truly excellent.
“Although Twechar has a rural feel, there are good local amenities and transport links to other East Dunbartonshire towns, as well as fast rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“Twechar offers a quality of life not found in bigger towns and cities, where children can play outside safely and walk to school and the village community centre boasts a full and varied programme of activities for all ages.”
Thomas Glen, the council’s director of regeneration and development, hailed the scheme as a “real success” and “a true partnership approach to regeneration”.
He added: “Throughout the country the provision of housing suffered a setback due to the economic downturn from 2008, but it is excellent to see the new housing progressing at pace and this is starting to provide the opportunity for partners to work together on further social, economic and environmental regeneration.
“The future for Twechar seems very bright.”
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