Coatbridge is the main town of Monklands, a district on Clydeside in the Central Belt of Scotland, and historically part of Lanarkshire. Other towns here, which have merged, include Airdrie and Whifflet.
The Monklands were farmed by Cistercian monks from Newbattle Abbey near Edinburgh; the monks also mined coal. The 1799 Statistical Account described the area in lyrical terms: an immense garden with extensive orchards, luxurious crops, and where rivers abounded with salmon. Then the Industrial Revolution arrived. Airdrie became a weaving and textile town, while Coatbridge grew on pig iron from locally mined ironstone. The population burgeoned as a workforce was drawn in, principally from Donegal, but living conditions were squalid and Coatbridge was a hell-hole of blast furnaces. The iron industry withered in the 20th century (relocating to Corby) as local ores were exhausted and Clydeside shipbuilding declined. Today the area is commuterland for Glasgow; in 2016 the population was just under 44,000. The main reason to visit is the Summerlee Museum depicting its industrial era.
Coatbridge is 9 miles east of Glasgow and two miles north of M8, exit at Eurocentral interchange.
Trains run every 10-15 min from Glasgow Queen Street to 1 Coatbridge Sunnyside, taking 20 min. These trains start from Balloch, Helensburgh or Milngavie, and most of them continue east through 2 Airdrie, Bathgate and Livingston North to Edinburgh.
An hourly train from Glasgow Central loops south through the burbs and commuter towns of Rutherglen, Cambuslang, Blantyre, Hamilton, Motherwell and Whifflet to 3 Coatbridge Central, taking 50 min, and continuing to Cumbernauld. Motherwell has fast trains from London Euston, the Midlands and North West England, including the overnight Caledonian Sleeper.
The direct bus from Glasgow to Coatbridge was axed in 2019. The work-around is to travel to Motherwell then catch the 201, which takes 50 mins to Coatbridge and another 15 to Airdrie. This is First Glasgow Bus 201, which runs every 10 mins from Hairmyres Hospital via East Kilbride, Burnbank, Hamilton, Bellshill, Whifflet and Coatbridge to Airdrie and Petersburn. The first bus from Motherwell is at 05:40 and the last at 22:00.
Bus 201 as above is the main link between Coatbridge and Airdrie.
- 1 Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, Heritage Way, Coatbridge ML5 1QD (just north of Central railway station), ☏ . Daily Apr-Oct 10:00-17:00, Nov-Mar 10:00-16:00. An interesting museum with a number of displays and activities. The exhibition hall includes displays and interactive exhibits on the history of the mines and furnaces, the people and includes working machinery. Outside is a replica of the world's first iron-hulled vessel and an engineering pavilion. A tram ride (for a small fare) takes you to one of the old mines (tours available) and the "Miner's Row", which recreates the living conditions of the miners during different eras. There is also a traditional sweet shop, a kids play park, a gift shop and cafe. No dogs except assistance dogs. Free.
- 2 Drumpellier Country Park, Townhead Rd, ML5 2HD, ☏ . Visitor Centre daily 10:00-17:00. Large park around two natural lochs - these are "kettle ponds" gouged out by glaciers. The park has woods and wetlands, walking trails, picnic and play areas and a visitor centre. Boats and canoes can be hired, small charge. Drumpellier House (demolished in the 1960s) was owned by Andrew Buchanan, a tobacco merchant whose nephew gives his name to Glasgow's Buchanan Street. The family went bust in 1777 when the American revolutionaries seized their tobacco plantations. Free.
- Time Capsule Waterpark, 100 Buchanan St, Coatbridge ML5 1DL (just west of Central rwy station), ☏ . Waterpark M-F 16:00-20:00, Sa Su 10:00-20:00. Activity complex with a waterpark, ice rink (hours vary) and gym. Ride the flumes and waterslides, catch a wave in the wave pool or work on your strokes in the 25 m pool: see website for age / height restrictions. There's also a kid's play area and a sheltered section for very young children. Adult £8, child £6.
- Play golf at Drumpelier Golf Club on the western edge of Coatbridge, or Airdrie Golf Club a mile north of Airdrie.
- Watch football: Airdrieonians FC play soccer in Scottish League One, the games' third tier. Their home ground is Excelsior Stadium, capacity 10,000, at Craigneuk Ave a mile southeast of Airdrie town centre. The present club was formed in 2002 when the original club (founded 1878) went bust.
- Albion Rovers FC play in Scottish League Two. Their home ground is tiny Cliftonhill, capacity 1500, half a mile east of Coatbridge.
- St Patrick's Day Festival: Coatbridge has many residents of Irish descent, and the festival is held over two weeks in early March with art, theatre, sport, music and film. It culminates in a street event with Irish music and dancing. St Patrick's Day itself is always on 17 March, whenever that falls in the week.
- There's an Asda in the centre of Coatbridge, and a retail park just south.
- Shimla Cottage, 109 Sunnyside Rd, Coatbridge ML5 3HR (next to Sunnyside rwy station), ☏ . M-Th 16:00-22:30, F 12:00-22:30, Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 14:00-21:00. Ultra-cheap Indian, food quality just about adequate for the price. Service haphazard and management snarky.
- 1 Crown Jewel, 293 Bank St, Coatbridge ML5 1EG, ☏ . M-Th 17:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-23:30, Su 14:00-23:00. Large selection of Indian dishes, gets good reviews. Also has online ordering (via Just Eat) and delivery. £10-15.
- 2 The Mint, 16 Academy St, Coatbridge ML5 3AU, ☏ . M-Th 11:30-00:00, F Sa 11:30-01:00, Su 12:30-00:00. Small menu with burgers, traditional favourites (steak pie, fish & chips) and Italian dishes. Mixed reviews for quality & quantity. Two courses £14.
- The Vulcan is a JD Wetherspoon at 181 Main Street Coatbridge, open Su-Th 08:00-00:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00.
- Others in Coatbridge are Innishmohr on Main St, Segton Bar & St Andrews Bar both next to Central railway station, and The Mint, Smiths & Cul-de-sac all just north of town centre.
- Airdrie has the Robert Hamilton, Staging Post and others at the top of Bank St, and a whole slew of bars along Stirling St.
- 1 Whifflet Arms, 68 Whifflet St, Whifflet ML5 4EJ, ☏ . Daily 11:00-23:45. Pub with live music and DJs on weekends, a beer garden and big-screen TV. Decent food, prices & ambiance.
- 1 Mondo Hotel, 144 Main St, Coatbridge ML5 3RB, ☏ , email@example.com. Decent mid-range hotel with 45 rooms. Check-in is in the basement, listen carefully to their advice on parking to avoid fines. No dogs. Attached restaurant is busy at weekends, reservations recommended. Double (room only) from £60.
- 2 Tudor Hotel, 39-49 Alexander St, Airdrie ML6 0BA, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Family-run 20 room hotel with single and double rooms plus one family (2+2) room, all en suite. Decent clean rooms but a bit small. With restaurant / pub, beer garden & play area, they often cater to functions. B&B double £100.
The area around Coatbridge has 4G from all UK carriers. As of July 2021, 5G is getting close but hasn't quite reached town.
- Glasgow is a must-see, just as much as Edinburgh.
- Hamilton is where a grandiose palace subsided into the coal mines below: its impressive mausoleum and country park remain.
- Kilsyth to the north of Coatbridge has remains of the Antonine Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Stirling is a pocket-sized Edinburgh, with its well-preserved castle, the Wallace Monument and the historic battlefields of Bannockburn and Stirling Old Bridge.
|Routes through Coatbridge|
|Glasgow ←||W E||→ Livingston → Edinburgh|