In his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says the former mining community of New Cumnock has been named Scotland's "Most Dismal Town" for 2013.
New Cumnock's first mines opened in the 1700s, and the town had five in operation up until 1950 – employing 1,500 people, or almost as many as it's now-total population of just 1,800.
But all had closed by 1969, and although some open-cut still takes place it employs only a handful compared with the pit mines.
Scottish architectural magazine Urban Realm which awards the annual Carbuncle for Scotland's most dreary communities and architecture, said it had named New Cumnock it's 2013 recipient because of the "haemorrhaging of High Street shops and a general absence of maintenance on derelict properties... raising a very real risk of irreversible decline if action isn't taken now."
And it noted that even the opening of a new school had been overshadowed by the threatened closure of the Town Hall, and sell-off of a local church.
Local historian, Geoff Crolley who accepted the Carbuncle Award on behalf of his community, said that towns like New Cumnock had given so much to businesses, but these had walked away as wind-farms had replaced coal mining for electricity generation.
Urban Realm said its Carbuncle judges had "warmed to the plight of the townsfolk of New Cumnock whose energy is as strong as ever… more than an escape valve for pent-up frustrations, they should see the Award as a springboard to tangible improvements."
(Picture: Urban Realm magazine)