Join PEDAL’s (FREE!) Trip to West Kilbride — 30th May


We’ll be leav­ing at 9.30am and return­ing by 5.30pm. Places must be booked — there are ten left: first come, first served, so hurry, hurry.  Email to book your place. Hope you can join us!

We’re hir­ing a minibus to go and vis­it one of Scotland’s real suc­cess stor­ies! A small com­munity which has turned its for­tunes around and re-vital­ised its High Street, buy­ing up empty shops and estab­lish­ing itself as Scotland’s Craft Town.

We want to hear first hand how they did it.

Our High Street is a very import­ant part of our com­munity and we want to see what kind of things we could do to make it more resi­li­ent and respons­ive to loc­al needs, includ­ing buy­ing prop­er­ties and start­ing social enter­prises. West Kilbride Development Trust has a lot to teach us about all this.

See more of their story below.


West Kilbride was once a thriv­ing coastal town, with a boast that the needs of res­id­ents could be catered for from the cradle to the grave.  A pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­tin­a­tion for Glaswegians hol­i­day­ing ‘doon the water’, at its peak loc­al bus com­pan­ies had to lay on addi­tion­al buses dur­ing the Glasgow Fair.

By the mid 1990’s the town’s for­tunes had taken a ser­i­ous dip, with 21 out of 40 retail busi­nesses hav­ing ceased trad­ing.  A loc­al tragedy gal­van­ised West Kilbride res­id­ents  and politi­cians alike, a pub­lic meet­ing was organ­ised  in 1996 by the area’s MP, loc­al inde­pend­ent Councillor  and oth­er loc­al act­iv­ists.  The area’s assets were explored and, as tour­ism was a key industry in the area, it was agreed that the town would add to this by devel­op­ing a spe­cial­ised theme to help revital­ise itself.  Since the idea was first developed and WKCIL was formed in 1998, the cre­ation of Scotland’s only des­ig­nated Craft and Design town has under­pinned a remark­able renais­sance in the retail and com­munity hub of West Kilbride.

Despite lim­ited resources and against a nation­al tide of town centre decline, the retail heart of the town has been pre­served.  To date, this has been achieved at a rel­at­ively low cost to the pub­lic purse and a sig­ni­fic­ant amount of com­munity fun­drais­ing.  Recognised nation­ally as an exem­plar of enter­prise, the pivotal role of the craft and design stu­di­os as West Kilbride’s “unique selling point” has been the driver of the town’s eco­nom­ic regeneration.

This innov­at­ive com­munity led pro­ject is an inspir­a­tion to North Ayrshire and its people because the cre­ation of Craft Town Scotland has man­aged to turn loc­al eco­nom­ic prob­lems into pos­it­ive enter­pris­ing action. It may not be a huge com­mer­cial pro­ject, but the Craft Town has added real artist­ic and cul­tur­al value to the area, bring­ing long-term and deeply felt changes to the loc­al eco­nomy.  Jobs have been cre­ated and secured, and the qual­ity of life for the people of West Kilbride is better.

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