Population : 28,720 (2001 census)
Wishaw lies in the county of Lanarkshire, 14 miles east of Glasgow and 32 miles west of Edinburgh. From here both cities can be easily reached via the nearby motorways, the M74 and the M8 which makes Wishaw a great location for commuters.
A Brief History of Wishaw
It is an all too commonly held view that the Romans stopped their advance north at Hadrian's Wall, where they camped for the next few hundred years, fighting off the odd attempted incursion by our ancestors from the North. Anyone who believes that should ask themselves why Wishaw's Main Street is quite so straight.
Romans actually came into Scotland on a number of occasions. They had a well established road up the north east side of Clydesdale. The line of the Roman road was followed by later road makers, and could still be traced when, in 1825, the Clydesdale Distillery was set up next to it in largely open countryside by Lord Belhaven.
A distillery needs workers, and workers need houses, and the little village that grew up along the line of the Roman road and around the distillery became known as Wishaw. The name probably came from the Old English for "Willow Wood", and though Wishaw has changed very much over the last century, is easy to believe the area could have been rural enough to justify the name in 1825.
Wishaw grew dramatically in the 1830s, with the arrival of railways and a gas works, plus the opening of the first of many collieries around of the town. By the time the Caledonian Railway's main line came through Wishaw in 1848, it was a major mining centre, fuelling an important part of Scotland's industrial heartland. Hot on the heels of the coal came iron and steel manufacturers, setting up works both to the east and west of Wishaw.
The Clydesdale Distillery never really recovered from the closure of the industry during the First World War, but in the early part of the 1900s truck manufacturing was an important local industry.
Like Motherwell, which lies some three miles north west, Wishaw benefited from the growth of the huge Ravenscraig steel works in the early 1960s, which lay between the two towns. But although employment there reached many thousands in the mid-1970s, the works declined throughout the 1980's, and closed in 1992. The mining industry had already ceased to exist in this part of Scotland and, for a time , Wishaw had some of the worst unemployment levels in Scotland.
Scotland's economy has improved considerably since. The Ravenscraig site has been cleared for major planned development; and today it is difficult even to see where the pit-heads once stood. Wishaw is a town emerging from a difficult period in its history and looking ahead to better things.
Famous faces from Wishaw
Enrico Cocozza was a Scottish filmaker, born in Wishaw to an Italian immigrant family. His parents rant he popular Belhaven Cafe in Wishaw and the area remained, for Cocozza, a continual source of inspiration and featured in many of his films.
Cocozza won many awards during the 40's and 50's. His work was characterised by its originality, surrealism and avant-garde style. Most of his films were recorded in and around Wishaw and surrounding Lanarkshire. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Cocozza often analysed dark themes such as horrror, magic, murder, suicide and abstract concepts.
Cocozza predominantly used an amateur cast and crew when making his fiilms, however he also produced professional explorations of life at the Glasgow Docks in the 50's (Glasgow's Docklands (1959)). His other films include Fantasmasgoria (1948), Chic's Day (1950), Nine O'clock (1951), The Living Ghost (1957), and Petrol (1957).
Later in life, Cocozza endured health problems which affected his sight, which in turn brought about his retirement from his career in film making.
Frank S. Walsh Ph.D., D.Sc. (Hon.) F.Med. Sci., FKC, FRSE 3. was born in Wishaw in 1953 and is one of the country's leading neuroscientists. Walsh received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Strathclyde and his Ph.D. from University College London. After he received his doctorate he trained under Marshal Nirenberg, a Nobel Prize winner, at the NIH in Betheseda, Maryland.
Walsh is known primarily on his work on the understanding of the role of cell adhesion molecules in the regeneration and development of the nervous system. He has written over 250 publications in scientific journals.
Walsh has filled many academic and corporate positions across the United States and in Britain. He was Sir William Dunn Professor and Head of Experimental Pathology at the United Medical and Dental Schools from 1989, and Research Dean from 1994 until 1997. From this time he joined SmithKline Beecham as Vice President of Neuroscience Research, and then later became Senior Vice President.
In 2002, Walsh became Executive Vice President of Discovery Research at Wyeth. During this time he oversaw work on finding drug treatments for a number of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, schizophrenia, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and COPD.
In addition to his corporate roles, Walsh holds Visiting Professorships at King's College London, the University College Dublin, and was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2003. In addition he is also joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience.
In 2008 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 2007 became a Fellow of King's College London. He has also received honorary degrees from the Universities of Perugia and Bologna in Italy, and the University of Strathclyde.
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