A tourist's guide to 'Carbuncle Town'
Residents of a town in Stirlingshire have accepted an eyesore-of-the-year award in the hope it will revive redevelopment plans. But there are high points amid the gloom and concrete doom, says local Brian McCabe. Here he presents a guide to the best and worst sights of Denny.
Denny is a lovely town that has been ruined by a centre that looks like Beirut on a bad day. It's a blot on the landscape. As soon as prospective house-buyers drive down the main street, the deal is off.
It might seem bizarre for a group of locals to get together and ask to be presented with an award which owes more to humiliation than appreciation. But as a member of Denny's Walk Around the Block campaign group we hope it will spur on the authorities to make the improvements needed.
Take a tour of the highlights and the lowlights of the town and click on the links to see the places mentioned in Google Street View.
The worst of the worst
The old Deluxe Cinema. An Art Deco style building (see picture, above) was established on the site of the former Denny & Dunipace Town House. Built around the mid 1930s, the building was the site of the first public demonstration of television by John Logie Baird. The Cinema saw the heyday of the movies right up until the early 70s when it closed for a spell before reopening as a Bingo Hall. The theatre had stood empty for a few years before it was unfortunately destroyed by a fire some three months ago.
The demolition debris is all that now remains of this once decorative building. Another slice of the town's heritage lost forever, unfortunately the site faces on to the main Glasgow Road through Denny.
Church Walk blocks. This is what Denny's "Carbuncle Cup" embodies - a block of condemned flats in the centre of Denny which many residents want to see pulled down. This aerial view adequately illustrates the extent of the infamous Church Walk blocks.
The local community has carried out two very public Walk Around the Blocks, to impress upon the local council their desire for the immediate removal of the derelict, damp, infested problem blocks. The existing buildings were built in the late 60s and are a perfect example of urban planning gone woefully wrong. If you happen to pass by on a dank, dismal, dreary day, look out for the large flocks of roosting pigeons. They may leave you with a souvenir of Denny you didn't particularly wish to take away with you.
The best of the best
The site of the new Denny High School. Completed only last year, the school is set on the periphery of the eastern approach road to Denny Cross. It is a wonderful example of modern campus style open planning. Facilities include swimming pool, games halls, 3G football pitches. The building replaces the 60s style old school which was both old and dangerous. A wonderful asset to the town.
An example of Edwardian street architecture, this short section of Broad Street is a wonderful journey back in time to housing of a by-gone age. Sitting on its own, it is almost a film set waiting on the actors. Visible on the left-hand-side just as you pass by the new Denny High School it appears unaffected by the trials and vagaries of 21st Century life.
Denny Parish Church. Sited at the principal junction of the town, Denny Cross, the parish church stands as custodial guard of the architectural heritage of the town. Although perhaps not this building, there has been a church on the site for over 400 years. Some old graves and gravestones are visible just behind the perimeter wall.
Moving further down Broad Street, one comes to the old Denny police station. A throwback to when a "good clip round the ear" would suffice in many cases, the old "nick" has now been deemed surplus to requirements with a new police facility located in Larbert, some three miles to the east of the town. It seems Z-cars can cover the neighbourhood's safety just as easily and efficiently. Shame. I miss PC Murdoch.
In between the church and the police station is another building of note - William Bulloch's Ironmongers. If calling into Denny, you must stop here. This shop is an architectural and historical gem. Operated by a delightful gentleman, Mr Jimmy Allan, the shop reflects an image of Arkwright's Store made famous in the Ronnie Barker comedy Open All Hours. Step inside and be transported back in time. An absolute delight.
Heading north on the A872 out of Denny, there's the Red Hoose pub. Formerly know as the Lairox Inn (Lair of the Ox), there exists a "loving stone" visible just below the upper mid window. It has the initials of two lovers and is dated to the early 18th Century. Also visible on the gable wall is a perfectly functioning sun dial. Well, perfect when the sun shines that is! It's believed there has been an inn on this site since back in Braveheart's day, William Wallace. It is known that he lived for a short time with an uncle in the nearby Hills of Dunipace.
Having mentioned the parish church already, it would be wrong not to mention the same building as seen as seen from McAras Park. The church steeple is a beacon and visible for miles around. It sits at the junction of Denny Cross where every year on Hogmanay, the streets are closed, the bells are rung, the New Year is brought in, and a dram is had by all. Happy New Year!
Last of all, there the Jacobite Graveyard. Sited a few miles along the western road out of the town, on the road towards the Carron Valley Reservoir, a small gated graveyard hosts the remains of a few rumoured Jacobite supporters of the '45 Rebellion. Take yourself along here and drift back to a time of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Flora MacDonald, the Glencoe Massacre, and imagine what might have been had the Scots not returned from Derby but continued on to London.