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MV Kyles, a diesel powered "Clyde puffer", on the River Clyde at Braehead shopping centre.

Braehead (Scots: Braeheid,[1][2] Gaelic: Ceann a' Bhruthaich) is a commercial development located at the former site of Braehead Power Station in Renfrew on the south bank of the River Clyde in Renfrewshire. It is particularly notable for its large shopping centre, arena and leisure facilities.

The shopping centre was rebranded as Intu Braehead in 2013 as part of a corporate rebranding exercise by Capital Shopping Centres plc, now known as intu Properties plc.[3]

Braehead power station[edit]

The power station was built after World War II. It remained operational into the 1980s, being demolished in the 1980s/1990s.[citation needed]

Renfrew Riverside redevelopment[edit]

Braehead forms part of the Renfrew Riverside redevelopment area, a part of the wider Clyde Waterfront Regeneration project. The Braehead area includes:

Braehead shopping centre[edit]

Intu Braehead
Braehead Shopping Centre - - 118773.jpg
Location Renfrewshire, Scotland
Coordinates 55°52′34″N 4°21′53″W / 55.875987°N 4.364843°W / 55.875987; -4.364843Coordinates: 55°52′34″N 4°21′53″W / 55.875987°N 4.364843°W / 55.875987; -4.364843
Opening date 1999
Owner Intu
No. of stores and services 110
No. of anchor tenants 7 (Primark, New Look, Boots, Next, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and IKEA)
Total retail floor area 98,474 m2 (1,059,970 sq ft)
No. of floors 2

The shopping centre opened in late 1999. It comprises 98,474 m2 (1,059,970 sq ft) of retail and leisure floorspace.[4] The centre has 110 shops in the main covered mall, and a further 10 in a retail park of larger stores. Braehead is also home to Renfrew's IKEA store which opened in 2001 and sits near the King George V Dock. At 29,000 m2 it is the largest IKEA store in Scotland and at the time of opening was the largest in the United Kingdom. Since opening, the centre has proved popular with consumers (indeed it has been blamed for a downturn in the fortunes of shops in nearby Paisley, Govan and Renfrew).

Sited within the same building as the shopping centre is the Braehead Arena and other facilities such as an ice rink. In 2000 its curling facilities hosted the World Championships, and in 2005 were used as training facilities when the Women's World Championships were being held in Paisley.

On 7 October 2011, a father was stopped by security and questioned by police under anti-terror legislation after photographing his daughter at an ice-cream stall. This resulted in a social media backlash and statements from both Braehead's management and Strathclyde Police.[5]

A planning application has been submitted to Renfrewshire Council for 'permission in principle' to build a new mixed-use development at the centre in January 2013.[6]

Braehead Soar[edit]

Braehead Soar (branded as Intu Braehead Soar and formerly known as Xscape Braehead Renfrew) (55°52′45″N 4°22′17″W / 55.8792°N 4.3713°W / 55.8792; -4.3713) began construction in November 2004 and was opened in March 2006 with its main use to teach people how to ski or snowboard. It is shaped differently, more like a conventional building but with the ski slope using a sloped cuboid structure projecting out the roof. This Xscape features a wide variety of entertainment including; the indoor Ski Slope, Soccer Circus, Rock Climbing, Sky Park, Odeon Cinemas, Bowling, Fan Drop, Robocoaster, Mini Golf, Lazer Station and the 'Fun Station'. The Complex also has a wide variety of shops(mainly outdoor clothing), restaurants, and bars.

The Snow Factor indoor snow slope features a 168m main slope with an additional 2,500m2 dedicated beginners' area for ski and snow board lessons.[7] Ideal for beginners who can practice on a quieter slope with others on the same level, fully supervised. On the main slope, two Poma button lifts give a drag tow to the top and can be exited either at the halfway point on the slope or at the top station of the 200m slope. Rope tows are used on the beginners slope.

Skiers and boarders are fully provided for with hire equipment, although the more advanced typically will have their own equipment. Sledging and an ice slide are provided.

Lessons can be booked for both boarding and skiing. Beginners start on the exclusive teaching slope before moving to the main slope. Initially only half of the main slope will be used before one advances to using the full slope. Once passed at the ability to ski or board from the full length of the slope, the pupil is allowed full access as they are deemed to have reached recreational level.

Clothing can be hired for a nominal charge, but gloves must be either purchased unless provided by the attendee. There are also helmets available for free use.

In March 2006, weeks before the complex was scheduled to open, the roof of screen seven of the Odeon Cinemas fell in and required extensive re-building.[8] The mini-golf (which is housed below the cinema) opened in July 2006. The Odeon Cinema opened on 19 October 2007, 18 months later than planned. "Stardust" was the first film shown at the cinema. The cinema is fitted with Real D (also known as Disney Digital 3D technology) in Screen 7 with Screen 1 being the largest of the Cinemas screens. The Odeon Cinema is also capable of showing IMAX films. The Odeon Cinema held the Scottish Pink Carpet Premiere of Universal Pictures film "Wild Child" on 30 July 2008. Both stars of the film Emma Roberts (Poppy) and Alex Pettyfer (Freddie) attended, with positive opinions to the Cinema and the Xscape's facilities.

In December 2011, SNO! Zone Braehead was acquired by the Ice Factor Group headed by Jamie Smith and renamed Snow Factor.[9]

Further development[edit]

To the west of Braehead and adjacent to the town of Renfrew is the Renfrew Riverside area. Between the residential area and the shopping centre an Xscape complex, providing an indoor ski slope and other entertainments and leisure facilities opened in early 2006.

To the south of the shopping centre is a small development called Braehead Business Park.


It can be reached from Junctions 25a (westbound) and 26 (eastbound) of the M8 motorway, and has extensive public transport connections including its own bus station. Buses run from many areas linking Braehead to Largs, Greenock, Paisley, Glasgow, Erskine and Johnstone. The Pride of the Clyde ferry service ran from Glasgow City Centre to Braehead's pier down the River Clyde regularly until October 2007.


Braehead was the subject of a boundary dispute between the Glasgow and Renfrewshire council areas, as originally the council boundary line divided the shopping centre in two. A Boundary Commission ruling eventually redrew the boundary to include all of the centre in Renfrewshire as this was the original ancient boundary.[10] The boundary runs along the side of Old Renfrew Road and is represented by a chain link fence at this point.


  1. ^ The Online Scots Dictionary
  2. ^ Scots Language Centre: Scottish Place Names in Scots
  3. ^ intu group. "Timeline/2010s". Retrieved 2015-03-17. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived 25 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Row over photo in shopping centre". BBC News. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Braehead Shopping Centre - Glasgow Skating". Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "Scotland Outdoors Articles - Snowsport Scotland". BBC. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Spencer, Ben (9 March 2006). "Lucky Xscape as Cinema Roof Collapses". Daily Record. Retrieved 5 December 2007. 
  9. ^ "BBC News - Lochaber's Ice Factor buys SNO!zone in Glasgow". 21 December 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Glasgow MSPs lose Braehead battle". BBC News. 7 May 2002. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 

External links[edit]