A memorial of former footballer and manager Bill Shankly has been reinstated at his birthplace as part of a new visitor attraction.
The project is part of the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT) involved in restoring eight opencast coal sites which have been left derelict in Fife, South Lanarkshire and East Ayrshire.
Glenbuck, a village in East Ayrshire, was once home to a thriving coal-mining community but has now been depopulated for almost 50 years following the industry’s decline.
As well as being the birthplace of the former Scotland player and Liverpool manager, the village has also produced more professional footballers per capita than any other region in the UK.
Shankly was best known for gaining promotion to the First Division and winning three league championships as well as the UEFA Cup with Liverpool. He died in 1981 aged 68.
The restoration work has seen the reinstatement of several memorials associated with the former mining village, including a new Shankly Memorial, as well as one dedicated to those who played for the amateur team Glenbuck Cherrypickers or who made their way into professional football.
The footprint of Shankly’s childhood home, as well as points of interest such as the site of the local church and the football pitch the Glenbuck Cherrypickers once played on, have been marked out with accompanying notice boards added to the site to guide visitors around the former village.
Professor Russel Griggs OBE, chairman of Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, said: “I’m immensely proud of everything that’s been in achieved in recent years.
“When we first began this process, these sites were a major concern, and now they have either been restored or are in the process of being restored.
“Six years ago, I couldn’t have imagined we’d be where we are today.
“The success of this project has been achieved thanks to everyone involved who has worked together tirelessly to produce a positive outcome for Scotland.
“On each site, SMRT and its partners have made sure the community has been involved in all stages of the restoration process.
“Not only has the landscape of these sites been completely transformed, we’ve also provided a positive ongoing community use for the land, whether that’s forestry or agriculture, or an amenity for locals, such as footpaths and public access to parts of them.
“The Glenbuck site is an excellent example of this. It’s a testament to what we can achieve through partnership working.”
Members of the local community have also been heavily involved in the restoration plans for Glenbuck, and the project, which was jointly-funded by East Ayrshire Council, has turned the village into a visitor attraction where people can go to learn about the area’s history.
Rural Economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “I am delighted to have been given the honour of opening Glenbuck Heritage Village – a celebration of the successful transformation of this historic industrial landscape into a visitor attraction that recognises the legacy of the men it produced.
“Men such as the legendary footballer and manager Bill Shankly, born 106 years ago today – who was raised in this small Ayrshire village and went on to leave an international sporting legacy.
“But today is about more than that. Glenbuck is just one of a number of successful projects supported by SMRT right across the country, projects that have overcome the enormous challenges left by opencast mining to regenerate tens of thousands of acres of Scotland – fantastic examples of what we can achieve when we work together for the future of rural Scotland.”