|Location Map ( geo)
|12.7 miles (20.4 km)
|A71, B743, A726, B755, A724, A72, M74, B754, A721, B799, B7029, A775
|Old route now:
|Route outline (key)
The A723 forms an important link across North and South Lanarkshire, although none of it is a primary route.
Strathaven - Hamilton
The route commences at its southern end in the South Lanarkshire town of Strathaven (pronounced Stray-ven), at the Strathaven Roundabout on the A71. It heads north east from here along the largely residential Townhead Street, becoming Green Street after traffic lights as it passes around the northern edges of the town centre. The town centre is a pleasant place, with shops set around Allison Green with the Powmillon Burn flowing through the middle. Green Street crosses the northern side of the green, with shops and restaurants facing onto the green and old parish church which is prominently sited at the next junction. Here the A723 meets the A726, the two briefly running north on Barn Street in a multiplex, although signage is insufficient to be sure which route has priority. At least one of the junctions is a TOTSO however, with the A723 having priority at the first junction but then having to turn off onto Commercial Road, another largely residential route. A sharp left turn onto Hamilton Road turns the route north again, the houses soon turning their backs to the main road and a small industrial estate sits on the right.
After leaving Strathaven behind, the route heads north across open countryside. After passing the small group of properties at Udstonhead, the route climbs gently up a long straight to reach the summit of nearly 250m at High Cross Knowe. A meandering descent brings it onto another long straight, passing the row of houses at Limekilnburn, before a slight kink leads onto another long straight, forming the descent to the edge of Hamilton. The town is entered as Strathaven Road, which passes through the districts of Eddlewood and Meikle Earnock. Almost immediately, however, a double roundabout is met, serving the new housing estates which back onto the route, with a third roundabout soon after. The A723 now faces a long suburban run into the town centre. Older housing generally faces onto the road, while newer blocks and the numerous blocks of flats have service roads or courtyards 'behind' them. A parade of shops is passed just after a mini roundabout, while other junctions are signalised or have hatched right turn lanes in the middle of the A723.
The mini roundabout is the junction with the B755, which winds around the west side of the town centre, and the A723 becomes Low Waters Road beyond. Further into town it becomes Portland Place and then Gateside Street beyond another mini roundabout. Shops now predominate on both sides of the road, with the old stone terraces rising to three or even four storeys. Quarry Street then takes the route over the railway line and into the town centre proper. So far, the A723 has been a typical rural / suburban S2 route which is often busy with traffic, but can hardly be called strategically important. From the signalised junction with the A724 however, it takes on a completely different character. The A724 is one-way westbound, but the A723 turns east onto Duke Street and becomes a dual carriageway as it follows the town centre relief road around the shopping centre.
The route curves through a signalised T junction with an unclassified road onto Low Patrick Street, passes the car park entrance and then meets the A72 at a second signalised junction. From here it turns north onto Townhead Street as the dominant partner in a short multiplex, curving back onto Blackswell Lane to reach a large signalised roundabout. Here the A72 turns north to form the eastern flank of the ring road, while the A723 continues ahead on Motherwell Road, now a three lane dual carriageway. Almost immediately the first slip road for junction 6 of the M74 is met. This is a fully grade separated interchange, built to the Octopus design, so while each route only has one offslip, there are two separate onslips. The third lanes disappear as the route passes through the junction, effectively replaced by hard shoulders which cross the River Clyde on Clyde Bridge but go no further.
The scale of this junction is partly because it serves the two large towns of Hamilton and Motherwell, but also because there were plans for the A723 to be a motorway here, forming part of the largely unbuilt Hamilton - Cumbernauld Motorway. At the time that the junction was built, however, the motorway plan was still very much a live proposal.
Motherwell - Holytown
The parallel M74 and River Clyde form the boundary between Hamilton and Motherwell and also South and North Lanarkshire. Any pretence that the A723 is of motorway standard is soon lost, however, as it comes to a halt at the signalised crossroads with the B754, which is partially dualled as it heads east around the southern suburbs of Motherwell. Houses then line the roadside, some set back behind a service road, as it rapidly reduces to S2 once more, following Hamilton Road into the town centre. After a mini roundabout, an intermittent hatched central lane provides for right turning traffic as the route climbs steadily between large detached and semi detached properties, interspersed with more modern flats and business premises. It then meets the A721 at a small roundabout, and multiplexes with it around the Motherwell ring road, emerging again as Merry Street at another roundabout on the other side of the town centre.
Merry Street runs past a row of shops and then through a signalised junction, beyond which the buildings on the right are set back behind a tree lined green space. A little further on, the South Calder Water is crossed on Coursington Bridge in Calder Park, and Motherwell is left behind. The remainder of the route is not rural, however. Instead, it passes through a series of villages which have slowly coalesced into a large, almost nameless urban area. Merry Street continues past an assortment of houses which are almost surrounded by the green spaces of Calder Park and a golf course. After crossing a disused railway line, it meets the B799 at a mini roundabout at the entrance to Cleekhimin. A much larger roundabout soon follows, where the B7029 continues ahead and the A723 turns left. The fourth arm is the new spine road through the old Ravenscraig Steelworks site, which is slowly being redeveloped.
Now heading north, the route follows a distributor road which has been threaded through the older settlements of Carfin, New Stevenston, Yett and Newarthill. It can hardly be called a bypass, with numerous roundabouts providing access to the surrounding housing estates, and supermarkets and shops built around one roundabout. For all that, however, the route largely runs through green spaces, with wider grass verges and banks of trees screening the road from the surrounding development for most of the route. The roundabouts offer artistic designs made with paving, gravel and flowerbeds, although while these look good on aerial photography, they are less easy to appreciate from the road. The route passes under the railway line, and then follows a long green section between roundabouts where the surrounding housing estates are set further away, although a new development seems to be sited much closer. After a long oval shaped roundabout, the route ends at a junction with the A775 and B799 at Holytown, close to the Newhouse Industrial Estate and Eurocentral. The M8 lies a short distance along the B799 to the north.
North Lanarkshire Council appear to be in the process of dualling the A732 from the roundabout at Carfin with the B7029 through to the A775 at Holytown, and will presumably include the B799 to connect to the motorway. To date (summer 2023), various compulsory purchase orders appear to have been made, and a new bridge under the railway has been installed to the east of the existing one, built to take the full dual carriageway, but no road appears to have been built yet.
The A723 starts in the same place that it did in 1922. However, at some point between 1932 and 1936 (most likely 1933 as it is not listed in the annual changes for 1934, 35 or 36) it was extended south along the remaining part of the B744 to end on the A70 in Muirkirk - the northern section of this route had already been renumbered as the A749, and is now the A726. This extension was downgraded again in the 1970s but this time became the B743. At the opposite end of the route, the original line followed what is now the A723 left its current route at the Carfin roundabout with the B7029, continuing in a north easterly direction through Newarthill and along Biggar Road to meet the A73 at Newhouse, just short of the A8. This is now mostly numbered B7066, the current route having opened since 1974.
As so much of the route is urban, there is little scope for finding abandoned stretches of the old road along the route, although one does exist. Before that, however, the A723 formerly passed through Hamilton town centre on the now pedestrianised Quarry Street and then Keith Street. The old line then swung around the south side of the roundabout, with a footpath past the Bowling Club probably showing the old line. The route through Motherwell town centre followed Merry Street throughout, the western part now being open to buses and taxis only, while the eastern part is pedestrianised. The only surviving loop of old road can then be identified on the far side of Coursington Bridge, although it is just a stub as the old bridge is long gone. A riverside footpath on the south bank of the river roughly shows the old road line.
As mentioned above, there were proposals in the 1960s for a long section of the A723 to be usurped by the construction of the Hamilton - Cumbernauld Motorway. The only part of the route that can be considered to have been built is the section between Hamilton and Motherwell, primarily the junction with the M74. To the south, this motorway was to have a junction with the A723 on the outskirts of Hamilton, then curve around the eastern flank of the town, approaching the current A723 / A72 roundabout from the south. It appears that in Motherwell it would have ploughed straight through the town centre, quickly turning north to follow the railway up to the M8.