SOMEWHERE in the picture on the right is Harold Macmillan, who as Prime Minister had been invited to open the new town centre in East Kilbride.

Supermac had arrived late on May 1, 1959, his train having been delayed at Crewe. To make up for lost time he cancelled his trip to Glasgow’s Central Hotel and went straight to East Kilbride with Patrick Maitland, the MP for Lanark, and John Maclay, the Scottish Secretary. (Maclay, incidentally, would be one of seven Cabinet ministers sacked by Macmillan in the headline-making ‘Night of the Long Knives’ reshuffle in 1962.)

Macmillan opened the centre then went for a walk, followed by eager crowds from shop to shop in the first phase of the development -- 29 retail units, all told, plus a hotel that would open in the summer.

“He walked into the window of a big furniture store”, reported the Evening Times, “to admire a dinner service laid out on special display”.

The premier did, however, skip the Woolworth’s and Co-operative units, and “retreated hastily” from a ladies’ gown shop.

Prof Robert Browning, chairman of the East Kilbride Development Corporation, told Macmillan that a 50-acre site had been set aside in the heart of the new town which, it was hoped, would include the principal shops, a cinema, offices and a dance hall.

In a speech Macmillan described new towns as an “exciting venture representing an outstanding and social experiment”. Glasgow had been one of the first cities to make an assessment of the needs of the new age, and East Kilbride was one of the first fruits of that assessment.

On his way to the town, he added, he had seen something of the next stage -- the great start that was being made on the mammoth task of clearing Glasgow’s slums and providing new homes within and outwith the city.

Macmillan was back in Glasgow in April 1963. The main image here shows him with his wife, Lady Dorothy, and Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Jean Roberts, outside a new Industrial Inquiries Centre.

As he left the centre, he announced that Glasgow Corporation had received formal approval to develop 29 areas of the city. It would, he added, be one of the greatest enterprises ever to be planned in the UK.

On his visit he also addressed a 2,000-strong crowd at a rally at the climax of the Scottish Unionist Association.

The new slogan of the Conservative and Unionist parties, he said, would be “to modernise, not to nationalise”.

From now on, he believed, the country would have a good period of acceleration economically.

He cautioned that many people believed that the “Socialist leopard had changed its spots on nationalisation. They were mistaken: “Believe me, it has still got all its four claws -- Clause Four”, he said, to laughter.

Read more: Herald Diary