Vale of Leven

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The Vale of Leven (Scottish Gaelic: Magh Leamhna) is an area of West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, in the valley of the River Leven.

The area's name lends itself to Alexandria's local football club, Vale of Leven F.C., the secondary school, Vale of Leven Academy, and the Vale of Leven District General Hospital, as well as other local organisations.

Geography[edit]

The Vale of Leven is the area between Loch Lomond in the north and the River Clyde at Dumbarton in the south. To the east are the Kilpatrick Hills.

The area consists of a number of communities which were historically separate villages but have expanded into one conurbation. The largest of these communities is the town of Alexandria, which sits on the west bank of the Leven. Alexandria is connected to Renton to the south and to Balloch in the north. Across the river from Alexandria is Bonhill which is connected to Jamestown to the north.

Politics[edit]

The area is traditionally industrial, based particularly on the dyeing industry, but with the decline of manufacturing in Scotland has had to look to new areas for employment. The area had exceptionally high levels of unemployment in the 1920s and 1930s, which gave it a radical reputation, with Communism and Socialism being popular political philosophies in particular. During that time it was known as one of the "Little Moscows" in Britain i.e. an area where the Communist Party of Great Britain had exceptional strength. The Vale of Leven District Council (which disappeared in the local government reorganisation of the 1970s) could have had the distinction of being the only local council in Great Britain where the Communist Party were ever the largest single party, although unlike most of the "little Moscows" it was not a coal mining area. The Communist Party went into serious decline locally in the 1950s under the influence of the Cold War, more quickly than in some other "little Moscows". However, there was an important industrial struggle during the early 1970s when the Plessey factory experienced a lengthy sit-in, objecting to its proposed closure.

In recent years the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party have been the dominant parties in the area. Former CPGB member Jim Bollan, currently the only SSP councillor in Scotland, sits for the Leven ward on West Dunbartonshire Council.

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