|Location Map ( geo)
|31.2 miles (50.2 km)
|A71, A723, A725, B764, B761, A727, B767, M77, A77, B773, A736, B771, A761, A741, B775, M8, A737, A8, M898, A898
|A744, A749, A740, B815
|Old route now:
|B7086, A725, B783, A727, A898
|Route outline (key)
The history of the A726 is rather complicated, with only a relatively short section of the current route having originally been part of the route in 1922. As first classified, it started on the A74 (now A724) on the edge of Hamilton, before heading west to East Kilbride along the general alignment of the current A725. It then followed the A727 (which was part of the A726 until 2005) and then its current route as far as Paisley where it ended on the A737.
In 1934, the west end of the A726 was extended along what was the A740 from Paisley via the Erskine Ferry to end on the A82 in Old Kilpatrick. At the same time, the east end of the road, from Hamilton to East Kilbride, was renumbered as the A776 and the A726 diverted southeastwards along parts of the A749 and A744 via Strathaven to end on the A74 at Kirkmuirhill.
In 1971, the Erskine Bridge was opened, making the ferry redundant and so the A726 was rerouted to the south side of the bridge where it now ends, taking over the original easternmost section of the B815. Later in the 1970s, the A74 was downgraded parallel to the M74, so the A726 ended end-on with the A744 in Kirkmuirhill. Strangely, it was not until the 1990s that the section of the A726 between Strathaven and Kirkmuirhill was downgraded to the B7086. The most recent change in the A726's route is the link from East Kilbride to junction 5 of the M77. It is also known as the Glasgow Southern Orbital (GSO) and it is a Special Road. This was opened in 2005 and the old route through Busby renumbered A727.
The original alignment of the A726 heading west from Hamilton is now largely bypassed. It started at a fork on the A74 Burnbank Road, and headed west through the now pedestrianised Burnbank shopping centre to reach High Blantyre Road, now the B7012. It then became Main Street as it ran through Blantyre, and then Hamilton Road as it left the urban area to the west. This is all the B7012, but just after the point where the B7012 becomes a dual carriageway on the approach to the A725 junction, the original line follows the stone wall and pavement through the trees to become Stoneymeadow Road. The old route is then lost under the spur of the A725 and development beyond, but it met what is now the A749 approximately at the junction with Lees Burn Court, between the hotel and restaurants. It then continued into the industrial estate opposite as Howard Avenue, before turning south roughly where Mavor Avenue now runs. This, then, was the original line of the A726 through to East Kilbride. It was renumbered throughout as the A776 in 1934.
In 1934, the eastern part of the A726 was moved south to reach the A74 at Kirkmuirhill instead of Hamilton. This line had originally been the B743 from the A74 to Strathaven and then the B744 from Stathaven north to East Kilbride. However, the B743 had been renumbered as the A744, probably as early as 1924, while the B744 had become the A749 between Strathaven and Glasgow a year or two later. Both of these A roads survived, however, the A744 becoming a shorter route east of the A74 and the A749 number remaining in place on the northern part of the route into Glasgow city centre.
With the opening of the Kirkmuirhill and Blackwood bypass in the early 1960s, the A726 and A744 routes were adjusted. Different maps from the period show different situations, with the short section of Carlisle Road, the former A74, between the two carrying either number. One map also suggests that the A744 was extended along the erstwhile A726 to the junction with the A74. Overall, the bypass appears to have provided all four sliproads to give full access, but scattered at three different locations. At the north end, there were normal north facing slips, connecting to the former A74, now unclassified. At the south end, a southbound onslip connected to the other end of the former A74, also unclassified, while the northbound offslip connected to the A726 on the western side of the bypass. By 1971, the OS One Inch map shows the whole of the former A74 route, including the new sliproads as being A roads once more, and the A726 number is left floating nearby, presumably implying that the route now connects to each end of the bypass.
The bypass opened as the A74, but the M74 had already reached a temporary terminus immediately to the north. This section was upgraded to be a motorway in 1986, with all of the old sliproads effectively removed. It was the early 1990s before the A726 was curtailed at Strathaven, the section through to Kirkmuirhill being renumbered as the B7086, along with the former A744 to the east.
The original line of the A726 through what is now East Kilbride ran south along Mavor Avenue, then passed to the east of the cemetery on The Gateway, before using Highfield Place to reach Old Coach Road. At the time, this part of the route was largely rural, passing through fields before the New Town was developed in the 1950s. This section became an extension of the A749 in 1934, when the A726 was diverted to Strathaven.
The new route therefore entered East Kilbride on Strathaven Road much as it does now. The old bridge over the Calder Water has been bypassed and gated, but the old road can still be walked as it slowly converges with the new alignment. The next deviation is at the entrance to the Calderglen Country Park, where the road past the overflow car park is the old A726. Other minor deviations along this section have recently been obliterated by the recent dualling of Strathaven Road and development to either side. Work started in March 2019 on upgrading the A726 to a D2 dual carriageway from the Torrance Roundabout to Calderglen Country Park, beyond which it was already dualled. These works were due to be completed in Summer 2020, but due to multiple reasons the work was heavily delayed. It finally reached completion in April 2022. An unclassified road (Greenhills Road) near this section of the A726 was also upgraded to a D2 dual carriageway.
The route then cut across the grass between the tower blocks of Mount Cameron Drive, with a footpath cutting the corner at the junction to show the old road alignment. At the further end of Mount Cameron Drive, the old line is cut by the A725 dual carriageway, but Avondale Avenue beyond was also the old A726. A short section of Whitemoss Road is then used to reach Stuart Street and Main Street through The Village, the original East Kilbride settlement, to reach Old Coach Road. The A726 then followed Graham Avenue south west to pick up West Mains Road, which is now the B761. It then cut across the one-way loop to find Glenburn Road and Glenburn Way, before cutting through the trees to the current A726, Queensway. Almost immediately, however, the A726 turns off onto the Glasgow Southern Orbital (GSO), with the A727 taking over the former route of the A726 through Busby and Thornliebank.
The current route through East Kilbride had been built in the 1950s, and is first shown on the OS One Inch map of 1957. However, while Strathaven Road and much of Queensway is shown as complete, the route is disjointed, with the bridge over the railway and the western end of Queensway not yet built. Upon opening, the route was single carriageway, using the current eastbound carriageway, but the railway bridge and second carriageway was added before 1968. Apart from many sections being widened to S4 or D2 through Busby and Thornliebank, the A727 still follows the original line of the A726.
The GSO was conceived as a completely new route, bypassing a long urban stretch to connect East Kilbride more directly to the M77, and opened in 2005. It also was anticipated to take longer distance traffic, as it formed the western end of a fully dualled route from the M8 near Coatbridge, across the M74 and through Hamilton on the A725 East Kilbride Expressway. The lack of grade separation on the East Kilbride section has, however, seemingly deterred some traffic from this route, meaning that the GSO itself is often surprisingly quiet. It has successfully removed a large volume of traffic from what is now the A727.
Apart from a couple of hundred metres east of the Phillipshill Roundabout, none of the current A726 so far follows the original line from 1922. This changes at the Nitshill Interchange with the M77. From here into Paisley, the A726 is almost entirely on its original, often upgraded, alignment. Nitshill Road through to The Hurlet junction has mostly been dualled online, while beyond the junction, the eastbound carriageway winds along the old road, with the westbound carriageway following a straighter new alignment alongside.
The A726 originally crossed the White Cart Water in Paisley on the Abbey Bridge, Bridge Street. It then forked left and passed between the Abbey and Town Hall, an area which is now partly pedestrianised and partly grassed. It ended here on the A737. It was extended north in 1934 along the former A740 to reach Erskine. This saw Cotton Street, formerly the B773 also become part of the route, before a very short multiplex with the A737 along Gauze Street. A roundabout was subsequently added at each end of Cotton Street, the rough positioning of which can still be identified in the paving in the area. By 1974 Gilmour Street, passing under the station, is also shown as being an A road, and the most likely number would be A726 although this has not been proven. The A726 then doubled-back on Incle Street, which it still uses, and used the southern part of the gyratory along Weir Street to reach St James Street.
The Paisley town centre relief road was built in stages between 1968 and 1974. The route to the west of the A726 is shown as complete in 1972, and coloured as a B road. Two years later, the western part along Mill Street is also complete, and again a B road, although it seems likely that the A726 was re-routed very soon after, if it hadn't already been. This removed the multiplex on Gauze Street, and created a new one on Mill Street - The A737 was renumbered as the A761 many years later. Heading north from the town, the original line of the A726 has been cut by both the M8 and runway extension at Glasgow Airport. The old line can still be traced as Greenock Road as far as the motorway, and then as St Andrews Crescent through the industrial area, but beyond is lost under the airport. The current alignment was built between 1965 and 1968 when the motorway opened, the deviation around the runway apparently being built in advance of the runway extension.
Perhaps the most interesting section of the A726, in terms of re-alignments, is the section through Erskine. Like East Kilbride, Erskine is a new town, although on a smaller scale and begun later. It was laid out on a largely greenfield site, although the old village of Inchinnan has been partially integrated into the urban area. Barnsford Road still follows the original line across the Black Cart Water and past the industrial estate to the Red Smiddy Roundabout, where the A726 has been slightly realigned on the southern approach. As Southbar Road then curves to the right, the old road can be found as a loop to the left, partly retained as property access, and partly overgrown, but still traceable through the trees with some tarmac surviving. At the Southholm Roundabout, the old road turned right onto Old Greenock Road, and then left soon after onto Barrhill Road. Part of Barrhill Road is now closed to traffic, but it retains the old line to the Bargarran Roundabout. Before reaching the Barholm Roundabout, however, the A726 then forked left onto Barwood Road, and crossed its current line to pick up the road to the Ferry.
After crossing the Erskine Ferry, the A726 continued on the north bank of the Clyde to meet the A814, Dumbarton Road, in Old Kilpatrick. Both slipways and approaches remain open to traffic, on the north bank accessing various commercial premises between the canal and river, while on the south bank the landscape is much greener, with the road running down to the Boden Boo car park at the head of the slipway, from where parkland stretches under the bridge. The A726 was almost certainly diverted to the Toll Plaza Interchange with the M898 / A898 when the bridge opened in 1971, taking over a short section of the B815 in the process, even if the OS don't show this on the 1972 One Inch sheet. By 1974, development seems to have been underway on the new town, with work officially starting in 1971. This led to the construction of the Barholm Roundabout and the Barrgarran Roundabout, with the A726 still threading through these junctions. Development soon spread further south and east, and the current route of the A726 was constructed.
The New road through Erskine was constructed with space for dualling in the future. As such, between the Southholm Roundabout]] and the Erskine Bridge there is plenty of evidence for the alignment of the second carriageway. Additionally, the two intermediate roundabouts are both large enough to have flyovers constructed for the mainline, making the junctions grade separated. Unfortunately, development has since been allowed on these erstwhile protected spaces, meaning that the dual carriageway could not now be built as originally planned without extensive demolition.