IT is a picturesque Scots village that was threatened with demolition in the 1930s and remains renowned as the location where the plane flown by Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, came down during World War Two.

Picturesque Eaglesham still has a flavour of the past in the quaintness of its architecture and in the ‘orry’ that sits at the heart of the community - orry being an old word for the ‘area’ that makes up the village’s green space.

Now, residents are set to mark the 60th anniversary of the day Eaglesham became the first conservation village in the UK, back on August 12, 1960.

And although the pandemic has put paid to plans to honour the occasion as they may otherwise have done, locals are keen to make sure the following 12 months are used to remember the history of the village that came close to being no more, recognising that it survived and went on to become a blueprint for conservation across Britain - there are more than 600 conservation areas in Scotland now.

Neither can it be easily forgotten that it is also the location of one the strangest moments of World War Two that continues to intrigue and inspire conspiracy theories today.

The Eaglesham of now has its roots in 1769 when Alexander Montgomerie, the 10th Earl of Eglinton, began the work of developing the area into an elegant planned village, with housing built around the orry. This area of common land was at the heart of the community - where the main industries were farming and later cotton spinning and weaving.

When one mill burned down in 1876, workers drifted away and the population declined, as did the housing, which fell into disrepair.

Vice Chairman of Eaglesham History Society, David MacAskill, said: “By the 1930s, many of the houses were lying empty and damp and in such a poor state of repair that a local councillor suggested that the village be entirely demolished and replaced with council housing. Fortunately, the plans were shelved when hostilities in Europe broke out.”

It was in on the night of May 10, 1941 that Eaglesham became the location of a notorious moment in the history of the war as Hess - Hitler's right-hand man - was flying over Scotland when his Messerschmitt ran out of fuel and he was forced to parachute out of it near the village, still 12 miles from his destination of Dungavel House, the home of the Duke of Hamilton.

A Scottish farmer, David McLean, found the German fighter plane on fire in his field and also found an airman who identified himself as a Captain Alfred Horn, but it soon emerged this was no regular Luftwaffe pilot. The Home Guard and the police were called and his identity unveiled, but since then, the mysterious tale has spawned an array of theories as to what Hess was doing. He said he was on a mission of peace, but some suggest it wasn't even him, but a body double who bailed out of the plane. Regardless, he spent the rest of the war in British hands, frequently interrogated by intelligence officers, before being sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945.

The remarkable moment lives long in the memory, but the society is focusing on the achievements of two campaigning villagers who set the wheels in motion for the conservation of the community so many years ago.

Mr MacAskill said: “In the late 1940s, two villagers, Nina Davidson and Kathleen Whyte, stepped in, starting a letter-writing campaign to restore the 18th century village.

“By the 1950s, a worldwide appeal was launched for funds towards Eaglesham’s conservation.”

As the History Society documents, a former weaver’s cottage in Montgomery Street was the first house to be restored in the village. It was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland by Nina Millar Davidson, the first Honorary Secretary of the Eaglesham Preservation Society, an artist, who completed the designs for two stained-glass windows at St Bride’s Church of Scotland in Brodick. The windows were unveiled in April 1961. Meanwhile, Ms Whyte MBE was Head of Embroidery and Weaving at Glasgow School of Art.

Such was the success of their campaign, that the village was designated Scotland's first conservation area 60 years ago, also making it the first village in Britain to be given the status.

In the village now, most of the 18th century buildings - including beautiful houses and churches, Polnoon Lodge, a former hunting lodge of the Earls of Eglinton, and the former 19th century coaching house, the Eglinton Arms Hotel, survive to this day.

Mr MacAskill, 55, a school technician at Williamwood High in Clarkston, who co-founded Eaglesham History Society in 2012, said: “Fifty-one buildings of architectural and historical interest were included in the preservation order. Many of the buildings are grade 'B' and 'C' listed but as a whole the village is 'A'-listed and of outstanding beauty.

“In the old village, you still get a sense of the past in the elegant houses and at the orry which is like the village green.”

He added: “We were hoping to mark the anniversary with a number of events, including a display for all to see at the library, but the pandemic has put paid to plans, as it has done for so many.

“The plan is to have a year-long celebration really, from August 12 on to celebrate and mark the occasion.”