Stonehouse stands just a mile and a half from Junction 8 of the M74, and is reached by following the A71 south-west from the junction. Though not directly, because if you stay on the main road you find yourself skirting around the north-eastern side of the village on a bypass completed in 1986.
Most people will simply pass on by, but if you should decide to take any of the available turnings into Stonehouse itself, you find a place with more than its fair share of character.
Stonehouse is built either side of the pre-bypass main road, and extends for about a mile and a half from north-east to south-west, by just a quarter of a mile from north-west to south-east. The heart of the village is where the old main road meets Lawrie Street and Union Street, and from here the main shopping area extends south-west along King Street.
Stonehouse stands on the south side of the valley of the Avon Water, which flows generally north-west towards its confluence with the River Clyde near Motherwell. By 1600 the main road bridged the Avon Water a little to the south-west of Stonehouse, which appears to have comprised no more than a row of cottages at the time. Perhaps one of the cottages was made of stone, or is that too obvious a reason for the village to have gained its name?
There are two main indications of earlier development in the area. A few hundred yards north-east of the village, a little beyond the village, and standing on ground that rises above the Avon Water, are the remains of St Ninian's Kirk. Today this comprised just the west gable end of a medieval church that fell out of use after the Reformation. There are suggestions that a church dedicated to St Ninian has stood on this spot since the 800s, which in turn hints at the possibility that the focal point for settlement in the area was once rather nearer the valley of the Avon Water than it is today.
The second early(ish) development was Cot Castle, also sometimes called Cat or Kat Castle. Nothing now remains of Cot Castle, beyond a flat topped mound above the Avon Water and close to the modern A71 a short distance south-west of the village. Very little is known of the history of the castle, except that it was a home of the Hamilton family in the 1500s. Described in some early sources as a "keep", there seems to have been nothing beyond low traces of seven foot thick walls in 1838. These walls seem to have disappeared when limekilns were built on the site later in the century, and these in turn were replaced by a farm, itself now disused.
In the 1700s and 1800s Stonehouse became a centre for the handloom and the silk industries, and coal mines were later sunk nearby. A railway station opened in 1866, with the railway following the line more recently adopted by the A71 bypass. The railway closed in 1965.
Stonehouse very nearly ended up considerably larger than it is today. In 1973 Stonehouse was designated a New Town, intended to take overspill from Glasgow in much the same way as East Kilbride and Cumbernauld. The designation was cancelled in 1977, in order to focus new development more on existing urban centres, though by this time the first tranche of new housing was just about complete. In recent times more new housing has been built in Stonehouse, but nothing on the scale of what was originally envisaged.