It was a gleaming new town and a golden ticket for those wanting to escape the overcrowded housing of Glasgow.

At the beginning of its new life six decades ago when it was created to deal with the population overspill from Glasgow, Cumbernauld was described as a place of opportunity for people and businesses and the post-war planning and architecture of this new town mirrored this bold vision.

In 1967, the American Institute of Architects bestowed Cumbernauld with the R. S. Reynolds Award for Community Architecture, declaring that "the dreams of the 1920s and 1930s are being built on a hill near Glasgow".

But this perception did not last the test of time and the town became a symbol within a much wider rejection movement against modern architecture in the late 1980s and began gathering a set of anti-awards.

Today, Cumbernauld is the fifth largest town in Scotland with a population of around 52,270 people and the biggest town in North Lanarkshire. Currently, a programme of demolition for the mighty tower blocks which defined the look of this town is under way.

For historians and local enthusiasts, the changing face of Cumbernauld has spurred a movement to document the tale of this town and make sure the ideals behind its creation are not lost within the rubble and that space is given to present a balanced view of Cumbernauld's story to future generations.

This month, an exhibition looking at Cumbernauld opens with photo, adverts and plans from the 1950s through to the 1990s on show to give people the chance to learn about the visions on which this new town was built around.

As part of this, Cumbernauld residents past and present are being asked to bring their own photos to the exhibition and help add to Historic Environment Scotland's official records.

For Diane Watters, the addition of personal stories and memories is vital in presenting future generations with an accurate view on Cumbernauld's legacy.

"If you look at the history of Cumbernauld, up until the 1980s - look at Gregory's Girl - it is a positive image of a forward-moving happy community and all the academic and social surveys were indicating these were good environments," Diane, an architect and historian for Historic Environment Scotland says.

"I am witness to that - it was a fantastic environment to be brought up in, it was exceptionally safe and there were fantastic facilities.

"Then what happened is Cumbernauld got caught up in this broader anti-modern, anti-planning approach.

"We get into a period where Cumbernauld is picked out, by the media mainly, and by architects.

"Then we started to get into a period of media-generated awards like the Plook on the Plinth award.

"So the whole story of a failed environment took hold."

Diane adds: "Architecture is continuously reinventing itself so it turns on the previous generations - it's done so throughout the 19th century, throughout the 20th century and it is very polemical.

"It says 'that stuff there is not very good - we are going to give you something that's better'."

Despite the shift from awards to anti-awards, the town continues to attract architect students from places like Barcelona, with groups regularly making coach trips to the North Lanarkshire town to see the shopping centre, an enthusiasm Diane hopes Scots will one day embrace.

"Within the academic world, Cumbernauld is fully recognised as being of international significance," she says.

"I have travelled throughout Europe and the States to talk about Cumbernauld. But that academic and heritage interest isn't really reaching the local communities.

"I am a historian so I am interested in a balanced historical account of Cumbernauld.

"The important thing is to record, to celebrate and to understand."

Taking place on September 24, the exhibition has been organised by the Tower Block project, based at the University of Edinburgh, who are currently creating an online image of every multi-storey social housing development built in the UK.

Event organiser Elin Jones is hopeful the stories and photos shared by locals will leave a lasting impact on the way the town is remembered.

"It is about ensuring that history is participatory," she says.

"It is about not romanticising the past - that's not the aim of the project - but it is to remember that these buildings aren't just eyesores, they are buildings which were built in a very specific period of time when people thought society could be a bit different and when people thought streets in the sky were going to be the next thing."

"It is about creating a heritage of these vanishing buildings that doesn't demonise or romanticise but asserts their importance in a historical narrative," Elin adds.

"It is important to remember that before they disappear and they are consigned as another mistake in urban planning."

For more information, visit the Tower Blocks website.

Source: STV

Sponsored By Supporting Scotland's Towns