Thornliebank retains much of its character as a village; it owes its existence largely to the Crum family, particularly Alexander Crum who died in 1893, and the Thornliebank Printworks, which gave employment locally for over a hundred years.

The works, in Main Street, Thornliebank, were founded in 1778 by John Crum for the printing of linen woven in the vicinity.

By 1819 Walter Crum, a highly qualified chemist and astute businessman, was in charge. He abolished spinning and weaving and began the process of calico printing with bleaching, turkey red dyeing and "beetling" (i.e. finishing of Holland cloth for blinds), which brought immigrants from Northern Ireland.

By the 1890s both block and cylinder printing were being undertaken, and cotton had supplanted linen. In the late 19th century this was one of the largest calico-printing works in Scotland.

The Printworks closed in 1930, and was allowed to fall into decay; the site was cleared later in the 1960s, and has since been redeveloped.

 The Crum Library, formally opened on 5th January, 1897 and designed by the Scottish architect Sir Rowand Anderson, was built from funds raised in Thornliebank village to commemorate Alexander Crum; apart from being the main employer he was also the parish's main benefactor supporting housing, the village club, education, leisure facilities, Thornliebank Parish Church and other worthy local causes. In the words of his son in law, Lord Kelvin, "Alexander never tired of doing good. He laboured incessantly - They had only to look round the village and the works."

From small beginnings in 1789 when it was but a little street of cottages, Thornliebank grew, by 1845, to have a population of 1366; the New Statistical Account of Scotland describes Thornliebank as "a very flourishing village where, thirty years ago, three families did not exist".