"Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire: Pevsner Buildings of Scotland" by Rob Close, John Gifford and Frank Arneil Walker is the fifteenth and final volume in the Pevsner Architectural Guides to the Buildings of Scotland and should be considered a "must buy" for anyone with an interest in Scotland's built environment. You know what you are going to get with one of these books, and this one fulfils the brief perfectly: it is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the key buildings and settlements of the area, complete with a large section of colour photographs of the most interesting places referred to in over 800 pages of text (two of which we provided).
In completing the series' coverage of Scotland, this volume fills a very large and very important hole in the centre of the country. The traditional Scottish counties of Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire ceased to exist in 1975, but they remain convenient ways of subdividing the complex geography of central and south-central Scotland. Renfrewshire extends from the shores of the Firth of Clyde along the south side of the River Clyde passing by the south side of Glasgow. Lanarkshire lies to the north-east and east of Glasgow before extending far to the south along the M74 corridor to reach a point that is nearer to Dumfries than it is to Glasgow. This broad geographical spread is accompanied by a huge range in landscape and style of development. It includes the traditional (and not quite ex-) shipbuilding towns along the south side of the Clyde as well as the ancient town of Paisley and the new one of East Kilbride. It also includes the ex-mining and (again, not quite ex-) steel-making heartland of Coatbridge and Motherwell, not forgetting the new town of Cumbernauld, before heading south past Lanark (and the World Heritage Site of New Lanark) to some of the most remote and least populated areas in the whole of Scotland, exemplified by the old upland mining village of Leadhills.
The Pevsner Architectural Guides always inspire a sense of wonder in this reviewer, mainly because of the sheer depth of information they contain and the mind blowingly comprehensive nature of the coverage. How, you wonder, is it possible to come up with so much relevant information about every single significant building in what is actually a fairly large area? We still don't know the answer to that question, but it is safe to say that the authors, who were also wholly or partly responsible for a number of the earlier volumes in the series, have produced a worthy addition to the series that fully does justice to the architectural heritage of the large area it covers.