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A737

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A737
Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (43)
From:  Glasgow Airport (NS467654)
To:  Shewalton, near Irvine (NS330365)
Distance:  25.4 miles (40.9 km)
Meets:  M8, A726, A761, B789, B787, A760, B7049, B777, B706, B7049, B707, B780, B714, A738, B779, B778, B785, A78, A736, A71, B7080
Former Number(s):  A740, A78
Old route now:  A8, A761, B789, B787
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Transport Scotland • North Ayrshire

Traditional Counties

Ayrshire • Renfrewshire

Route outline (key)
A737 Glasgow (Kinning Park) – Howwood
A737 Glasgow Airport – Eglinton
A737 Eglinton – Shewalton

The A737 is one of the most changed routes in south west Scotland, and vies to be one of the most changed in the country. Only a handful of its 25-or-so miles remain exactly where they started; it's had bits chopped off, bypasses built, grade separated junctions plugged in, it's usurped other routes' numbers and priority, and it's landed up by accident more than design as the primary route from the Greater Glasgow conurbation to the North Ayrshire coast.

Route

Johnstone Bypass

Johnstone bypass

The route starts at St James Interchange, junctions 28A and 29 of the M8. Junction 28A provides free flow slips under motorway restrictions to and from the City bound M8, while Junction 29 is a standard roundabout interchange which also connects to the A726. The sliproads from the roundabout reduce to a single lane before merging in with the freeflow mainline, and the route continues south west across fields, before finding the edge of Paisley with the Phoenix retail, business and industrial parks to the left. The A761 is then crossed at the Linclive Interchange, the roundabout lying underneath the dual carriageway. The route then curves to a more westerly direction to avoid Paisley's vast industrial area. It is following the meandering Black Cart Water, which is initially to the north, but then passes under the road, bringing the edge of Linwood close to the roadside to the north.

After Kilbarchan, it's single carriageway all the way, but the engineering in this section is still good

This is now the Johnstone Bypass proper, with the town lying across the river to the south. A couple of footbridges and a farm accommodation bridge pass over the route before it meets the B789, which passes overhead at an un-named signalised diamond interchange. The route now curves to the south west again, and soon meets the B787 at a limited access junction for Kilbarchan. The junction only has north facing slips, with houses standing in the way of south facing slips. This junction is also the end of the dual carriageway, the A737 reducing to a single carriageway through the junction, before being squeezed into a narrow concrete lined cutting with vertical walls. Again, this is due to the close proximity of houses on either side, but it is a strange place to lose the second lanes, as traffic can still be busy. After the second footbridge, the road emerges from its trench into a grassy cutting, before climbing out into the fields beyond.

The Black Cart Water is then re-crossed, bringing the road alongside the railway line, where it stays, more or less, for the next mile. The river meanders away to the right, and then the road enters woodland, with a long cutting through a low hill. This is the Howwood Bypass, and after curving around the back of the station, the road crosses the railway to meet the B787 again, soon after which it resumes its original alignment.

Howwood - Dalry

It is quite noticeable where the new road ends, with the kerb lines kinking in, removing the hard strips on either side. Double white lines soon follow, and the road follows a sinuous, undulating route across fields, and through the tiny settlement of Risk. A longer straight then leads onto the Roadhead Roundabout for the A760 to Lochwinnoch and Largs, which also served the Auchengrange coal pits. The road from here to Beith is not straight nor fast, and the hedges seem improbably close to the road verge in places. The Beith bypass is the oldest one on the route, dating from the 1920s, and is consequently of a low standard featuring a succession of busy junctions on a route which has had most other such junctions remodelled to make turning easier. The B7049 forks right at the entrance to the town, with the bypass curving around the eastern side, passing through four crossroads along the way.

The first of the crossroads is with unclassified roads, and therefore probably the quietest, the second is with the B777, while the third and fourth are almost one junction. Despite the 50mph limit, this double crossroads with the B706, coming on the crest of a hill, is not pleasant for turning traffic when the A737 is busy. The first left turn is unclassified, opposite one arm of the B706, while the mainline of that route forms a staggered crossroads fifty metres further on. At the far end of the town, the junction with the southern end of the B7049 and the western arm of the B777 has been rebuilt as the Manrahead Roundabout. There are now approved plans to realign part of the bypass further to the east from a new roundabout with the B777, across the B706 at a second roundabout before merging back into the existing road. Work on site had not yet started in summer 2023, however.

A long straight across fields leads to a slight dip as the road crosses the Powgree Burn. The route then becomes a little more sinuous, even as it follows the new alignment past The Den, built in 2019. This work was started slightly after the Dalry bypass, the beginning of which is soon found. Birkentop Farm and its neighbours lie off to the left, bypassed by the new road which then cuts across the old on the approach to the new Highfield Roundabout. The B707 comes in from the left here, while the B714 has been extended out of Dalry over the former A737 route. The Bypass passes to the east of the town, and follows a long straight which first climbs and then dips downhill in a shallow cutting to pass under a side road. Overtaking lanes are provided in an S2+1 format for uphill traffic, with the route then sweeping westwards to cross the railway and River Garnock in quick succession, before coming to the far end of the bypass at the Hillend Roundabout.

Dalry - Irvine

A typical section of the unmodified A737 south of Dalry; curve, crest and T-junction all in view

Beyond Dalry, the road winds downstream alongside the River Garnock, with the railway on the far bank. The worst of the bends have been removed, and there are a couple of short cuttings to remove some crests, but the road remains sinuous and undulating. It then comes down onto the riverbank, rather than being a fields width away , although the water is well screened by trees. The river then turns away from the road to pass under the railway, and soon after the road crosses the railway to enter the sizeable town of Kilwinning, which would benefit from a bypass for the A737. Dalry Road leads in between modern housing estates before older housing faces directly onto the road. This is the first time since the beginning of the route at Paisley that it has had continuous development on both sides of the road. McGavin Park is passed on the right, and then the High School on the left, before the route comes to a signalised T junction with the A738, where it has to TOTSO left.

One of the sliproads at Eglinton Interchange

A short run along Howgate leads to another signalised T junction, with the B779. Again, the A737 has to TOTSO left, onto Lauchlan Way, the town centre relief road, which curves around the back of the pedestrianised Main Street. At the far end, the River Garnock is crossed on the old Abbott Adams Bridge, with the ruins of Kilwinning Abbey lying to the south of Main Street. The B778 then forks left as the A737 curves round to the right, and is quickly followed by a left turn for the B785. After a short windy section along the tree lined riverbank, Irvine Road follows a long straight south east between housing and the Eglinton Country Park on the left. This leads to the Eglinton Interchange, which is bypassed by the mainline, but a loop of the A737 connects to the roundabout above the A78, and the B7080 beyond. This is the end of the trunk route, but the A737 continues into Irvine.

Irvine is quite unlike anything else encountered en route; it is a New Town which has developed around an older settlement. There was, however, intermittent pre-existing ribbon development along the route of the A737, which follows Kilwinning Road past the hospital and between modern housing estates. A golf course, High School and parkland are also passed before the route approaches the older part of Irvine. A set of traffic lights at Heathfield Junction sees the A737 make one final TOTSO, turning right while the A736 continues ahead. Maress Road is a typical new town dual carriageway, which crosses the River Irvine on the Marress Road Bridge and then curves back to the south to the large Marress Roundabout, which has flares for a flyover that was never built. The dual carriageway continues, passing under the modern concrete shopping centre to the Fullarton Roundabout. This is the rather abrupt end of the dual carriageway, with Fullarton Street ahead being a suburban route with tower blocks on the left and houses set back behind a service road to the right.

As the road curves to head south, it becomes Ayr Road, which soon meets the western end of the A71 at Merryvale Roundabout. A small retail park lies beyond, accessed from its own roundabout, and then the route strides out across the old Shewalton mines and moor nature reserve. A brief run through trees is followed by a small block of housing, and then a cemetery, before the route reaches the Three Stanes Roundabout. It ends soon after at the Newhouse Interchange, sitting above the A78, with the further end of the B7080 continuing ahead.

History

As noted above, the ropute of the A737 has changed a lot over the years, with extensions, and diversions at either end and then a number of bypasses along the middle section, all meaning that only a few miles of the current route were numbered as the A737 back in 1922.

Glasgow - Howwood

The A761 (former A737) in Cardonald
The A737 passing through Paisley in 1968

Originally the A737 used to run right into the centre of Glasgow, with its eastern end on the A8 at Paisley Road Toll in Kinning Park. It was later extended further east in 1936, via a short multiplex with the A8 along Paisley Road and then across the south of the city centre and over the Clyde to Bridgeton Cross on the A74. From Bridgeton Cross, the route headed south west along James Street onto Glasgow Green and then followed King Street across Kings Bridge into Hutchesontown, where Ballater Street led it on to meet the A77 at Gorbals Cross. The final section of the eastern part of the route ran along Norfolk Street to meet the A8, from where the two routes multiplexed. However, over the years the A77, A8 and other classified routes in this area were diverted and re-routed a number of times, with Norfolk Street being part of the A8 by 1956 and the rest of the route subsequently becoming the A74 in the 1980s.

From Paisley Road Toll, the A737 headed west along Paisley Road West and then Glasgow Road, all the way into the centre of Paisley. In the early 1960s the multiplex with the A8 was extended west to Ibrox when the A8 was re-routed away from the docks. The original route of the A737 through Paisley followed Gauze Street, High Street, Wellmeadow Street and Broomlands Street. In 1934 Gauze Street became a short multiplex with the A726, which was extended north to Erskine, but it was 40 years later before the town centre relief road was opened and the A737 diverted onto it. This dual carriageway route passes to the east and south of the town centre, includes a short one-way gyratory system and extended the multiplex with the A726. The route then followed Ferguslie and Main Road through Elderslie and into Johnstone. Most of this is now the A761, from the A8 through to Elderslie. It then becomes the B789 as it heads into Johnstone.

The A737 did not, however, follow the current route of the B789 into Johnstone town centre, but instead forked left onto Beith Road. The short section of dual carriageway was added in the late 1960s to partially remove a bend (southbound anyway). The south western section of Beith Road is now the B787, into Howwood where it becomes Main Street and then on to meet the current line of the A737 south of the village.

The Johnstone Motorway

The Johnstone Motorway plan (for which no number seems to have been reserved) began with the first two miles of the current A737 from the roundabout at what was then Junction 11 of the M8 (today's St James Interchange, J29) to Linwood. This opened in November 1968 without motorway restrictions as the A740, with the only connection to the A737 being via the A761, Linwood Road. Unfortunately, it took over 20 years before the other bypasses were completed in 1992, by which time building motorways had become untenable, and so the whole of the Linwood, Johnstone and Howwood bypass section was numbered as a re-routed A737. Its former route into Glasgow became part of an extended A761 as far as the A8 at Ibrox, the route further east already having been renumbered. The old route through Johnstone become the B789, and west of there mostly the B787 but some of the road through the more recent development of Milliken Park is unclassified.

Howwood - Kilwinning

The Section south of Howwood is still nominally on the original line as classified in 1922. The first obvious change to the route, apart, perhaps, from some minor widening, is at the Roadhead Roundabout, where the original line of the A737 passes to the east of the junction, and remains in use as property access, accessed from Auchengrange Hill. A mile or so to the south, the old road line passes to the west of the Clerksbridge Toll Roundabout, again still partially retained as farm access. The Beith bypass originally opened in the late 1920s, with the A737 briefly passing through the town centre beforehand. It seems to have used Roebank Road, Wilson Street, Main Street, Eglinton Street and Dalry Road, with some changed to the ends of Main Street when the relief road opened. The route through the town was renumbered as the B7049.

Continuing south, the minor bypass of The Den was built alongside the Dalry Bypass, with work on the two improvements completed in 2019. South of The Den, the road is briefly unchanged, before another minor bypass of Birkentop Farm. The old road then passed through Highfield, before a series of bends led it into Dalry. Most of this old road is still in use, although the old skewed crossroads in Highfield has been replaced with two almost parallel routes and a short connection between them. Beith Road into Dalry is now the B714, and the A737 then followed New Street, Townend Street and Kilwinning Road, which have also been renumbered as the B714. South of Dalry there are some notable improvements, with the straightening of a series of bends south of Monkcastle. The A737 then came to an end on the A78, Byres Road / Howgate near the centre of Kilwinning.

Kilwinning - Irvine

The A78 Kilwinning bypass opened in 1962, and saw the A737 extended south east through the town along the former A78 route to reach a roundabout at the eastern end of the bypass, which has since been replaced by the Eglinton Interchange. The Irvine bypass opened in 1976 and saw the A737 extended again over the former A78 route through the town. This included the 0.86 mile New Town Northern Approach Road dual carriageway between Heathfield Junction (Kilwinning Road) and Fullarton Street, which had been completed only two years earlier in 1974 per the 1974 Scottish Development Department Report. It included the 260 foot long bridge over the River Irvine.

Future

Orders were made in 2020 to realign the Beith bypass and replace two of the at-grade junctions with roundabouts.

The 1922 MOT Road List defines this route as: Kilwinning - Dalry - Beith - Paisley - Glasgow
An official document from 16/05/1936 details the following changes:
Extended. Merged with A8 (Edinburgh-Gourock) from former termination at Paisley Road - Wellington Street via Paisley Road (part), Morrison Street, Nelson Street and Norfolk Street continuing thence over the line of A732 via Ballater Street, King's Bridge, King's Drive and James Street to Bridgeton Cross.


Links

Transport Scotland

And for good measure a map showing all the lovely new roundabouts: https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/7381/a737-improvements-at-beith-draft-mainline-order-drawing-final-as-published.pdf




A737
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Related Pictures
View gallery (43)
Candren Road - Geograph - 2226816.jpgIMG 20210625 132644.jpgA737 Dalry Bypass - Hillend Roundabout aerial looking north east.jpgLinclive Interchange between A761 and A737 - Geograph - 18267.jpgTwin Arches - Geograph - 64762.jpg
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