|Location Map ( geo)
|Speed limit Countdown signs on the approach to Port Glasgow from Kilmacolm
|Port Glasgow (NS326743)
|19.1 miles (30.7 km)
|A8, A737, A726, A736, A739, A8
|B791, B788, B789, A737
|Route outline (key)
The A761 is approximately 19 miles long, forming an important route through the affluent villages of Renfrewshire, across Paisley and the south western suburbs of Glasgow. The section between Paisley and the A8 at Ibrox is a wide dual carriageway lined with houses, and Glasgow Corporation Transport trams formerly operated in the central reserve.
Port Glasgow - Bridge of Weir
The route commences at its western end at the Newark Roundabout junction with the A8 adjacent to Newark Castle to the east of Port Glasgow town centre. From here it heads south east as a dual carriageway, passing under the railway to the Blackstone Roundabout, which is the junction with the old alignment of the A8 (Glasgow Road, giving access to the Woodhall district), thus the first 100m or so were once the A8. The dual carriageway turns east here along Glasgow Road, and the A761 drops to single carriageway as it heads up the steep Clune Brae from the roundabout, curving around to head east below steep wooded slopes. Clune Brae then becomes Kilmacolm Road as it reaches the upper parts of Port Glasgow, with High Carnegie Road forking left to become the Old Greenock Road, historic predecessor to the A8. The road then curves to the south to reach Boglestone Roundabout, which gives access to the Broadfield, Devol, and Mid Auchinleck districts. The route turns left here to head south east once more.
So much of Port Glasgow is post war housing estates that there are few frontages onto the main road, most properties being set back behind greens and service roads, or back onto the A761. Here and there there are fine views out across the Clyde to the hills above Dumbarton, or further afield to the west in Argyll. Trees and houses fill the foreground, but there are many tantalising glimpses between them. The route continues south east passing the Bardrainney, Park Farm and Slaemuir districts, before reaching a small roundabout at the entrance to the High School / Community Campus. A few yards later it leaves the urban area behind and enters open moorland, soon becoming Port Glasgow Road. A series of snaking bends climb a little, before winding down into the small valley of the Auchenbothie Burn, a tributary of the Gryfe Water, which is followed for several miles. After crossing the burn, the route climbs a little and soon enters Kilmacolm.
As it approaches the village, the road runs roughly parallel with the former Greenock and Ayrshire Railway, closed in 1966, and then the former Bridge of Weir Railway, closed in 1983, both of which are now converted to a scenic cycle route. It enters the village of Kilmacolm as Port Glasgow Road, passing a long line of large semi detached houses, many set back behind high hedges. It meets the B786 at Kilmacolm Cross in the centre of the village, where a small 'square' has been formed, surrounded by shops and businesses. Many of these are the lower floors of tenement style buildings, giving a surprisingly urban feel to what is otherwise quite a leafy and spacious village. The A761 continues ahead, now following Bridge of Weir Road, which is soon lined with large detached and semi detached properties once more. The south side of the village is perhaps even more upmarket than Port Glasgow Road, with a very affluent and expensive look to the properties.
Leaving Kilmacolm behind, the route soon passes a junction with the B788 and then an unclassified road to Quarriers Village, built in the 19th Century as a new type of Children's home, and still home to a charity which provides a variety of care options for children and adults across Scotland. Both of these turnings cross the old railway line, and the River Gryfe, but the A761 stays to the north of both as it becomes Kilmacolm Road on the approach to Bridge of Weir. A long sinuous and undulating section leads into the village, but offers too many blind bends and hidden dips for overtaking to really be possible. It passes through an agricultural landscape of small grazing fields and patches of woodland, dotted with occasional farms.
Bridge of Weir - Paisley
Kilmacolm Road leads into Bridge of Weir past a couple of modern housing estates, with the B790 turning off to the left at traffic lights. The road then crosses the River Gryffe on the eponymous Bridge of Weir and becomes Main Street as it winds past the shops on the narrow valley floor. The River runs close behind this town centre to the north, and the old railway is set on a ledge of the hillside to the south, with housing estates spread out above and beyond. Like Kilmacolm, much of Bridge of Weir is affluent, with large exclusive properties, but little of this is seen from the main road. A sharp double bend carries the road over the old railway and onto Bridge of Weir Road as it passes the Ranfurly conservation district of the village. Continuing south east the road eventually escapes the steep contours of the Gryfe Valley and once more stretches out across undulating farmland.
After passing the entrance to Kilbarchan Cemetery on the left, a long left hander curves around a field, with a right turn to the historic village of Kilbarchan and then a left turn into the small village of Brookfield. The A761 straightens up and runs along the southern edge of the village, but only a couple of properties face onto the main road. A modern housing estate sits slightly detached from the village, at the far end of which the route crosses the B789 at the strangely shaped Deafhillock Roundabout. Heading east now, a long straight leads gently downhill, past the High School, accessed from another roundabout, and into Linwood. Linwood was a very small village which has grown enormously since the war, partly due to the construction of the Rootes Group car factory in the early 1960s. It is not officially a New Town, but does have that feel about it although the original town centre has been bulldozed and largely replaced by a supermarket.
The route of the A761 through Linwood is largely parallel to the A737, Paisley and Johnstone Bypass. This runs to the south, and was accessed via the B789. The A761, meanwhile, follows a green route between housing estates to a large roundabout, notable for the interesting coloured brickwork on the modern houses on its western side. Here the route turns right onto an old bypass dating from the 1960s, which curves through parkland before crossing the Black Cart Water just beyond the signalised turning for the town centre and supermarket. The river is crossed on the new Linwood Bridge, although the old one still stands in the trees alongside. A short distance further on the grade separated Linclive Interchange is reached, giving direct access to the A737 (former A740 Linclive Spur) which passes overhead.
Beyond the junction, the A761 is dualled as it runs along Linwood Road through the Phoenix Retail Park (built on the site of the former Rootes car plant, closed in 1981). The factory was always known as Linwood, but today the Phoenix development is really an extension of Paisley. Two roundabouts give access to the retail park and surrounding industrial estates, but this section can be heavily congested at busy times. A third roundabout gives access to the housing estates to the north, and then the route curves south to cross the railway line and enter Paisley proper. A notable feature of the railway bridge is that it still bears an advert for Talbot cars, built at the Linwood Plant from 1979-1981 when it closed!
After crossing the railway, the route meets the B789 (former A737) at another roundabout; at one time this was the terminus of the road, but with the diversion of the A737 it has been extended for several miles over that road's former route. Turning east the A761 becomes Ferguslie, a wide single carriageway road which would once have been S4, but with turning lanes, parking bays and bus stops is now really only one lane each way. An egg shaped roundabout is crossed and then and then a left fork onto Broomlands Street might be the B7050. Continuing ahead along the dualled George Street, the B775 is crossed at the signalised Maxwelton Cross, although the left turn here might be the [B7050]]. The route then kinks right onto Canal Street as it bypasses Paisley town centre.The former A737 went via the High Street and Paisley Cross, this section now being unclassified as part of the pedestrianisation of Paisley High Street.
After a series of minor, unassisted, junctions, the B774 is met at a large signalised crossroads, beyond which the route becomes Gordon Street as it splits either side of a block of buildings including a church. An even larger and more complex junction in front of the church sees the A761 briefly disappear in a multiplex with the A726 along Mill Street and over the White Cart Water on Hammills Bridge. The A726 formerly ran past the Abbey via Bridge Street and Cotton Street. Mill Street curves round to the north to another large signalised junction, where the A761 resumes by turning east again as Glasgow Road. The junctions at either end of this multiplex are both just crossroads, but the number of traffic lanes, turning lanes and signal phases somehow make them both seem much more complex. Although never a trunk route, Glasgow Road was for many years a Primary route, and still retains a green sign here and there. The remainder of the route is that of the former A737 heading into Glasgow.
Glasgow Road remains a dual carriageway, although again turning lanes, parking bays and the like mean that it is often only one lane in each direction. It heads east passing the Arkleston and Seedhill districts, then Barshaw Park, this whole area being post war social housing developments, predominantly of low rise flats reflecting the tenement heritage of the area. Opposite the park, and beyond it, the Oldhall and Ralston districts are mostly private developments towards the main road, but more council estates spread out beyond. There are a couple of signalised junctions along this section, but most are simple give ways. Some sections of this road have unusual breaks in the central reservation, which are used as rather dodgy parking areas! 'Welcome to Glasgow' signs mark the change in local authority, but the street scenery hardly changes as the route leaves Paisley behind and enters the Penilee and Crookston districts of the City of Glasgow.
Continuing east, this time as Paisley Road West, the route passes through the Crookston district, and soon meets the A736 (former A754) at a large signalised crossroads. It then passes through Cardonald, where it meets the A739 which turns off to the north heading for the Clyde Tunnel. This was the old end of the primary status, the primary route taking the A739 as far as the M8. The A761 then passes through Halfway and Bellahouston, lined with old stone tenement blocks, before the large Bellahouston Park spreads out to the south. A roundabout adjacent to the high security Helen Street Police Station, sees an unclassified dual carriageway head north to the M8 J24, while the A761 continues east, and soon crosses over the M8 itself. On the far side of the motorway, and with a railway passing diagonally beneath, the B768 is met at a signalised crossroads, close to M8 J23 which lies a short distance to the right.
The final stretch is much as before, with Paisley Road West being a wide dual carriageway lined with a mixture of stone tenements and more modern buildings. This is the Ibrox district, with the football stadium a little to the north on the A8, which route is soon met at a TOTSO fork, which is surprisingly devoid of traffic lights. This, then, is the end of the A761, and has been ever since it was extended, although the A737 originally extended further in towards the city centre before the A8 was rerouted in the 1960s.
The route of the A761 has seen many changes over the years, indeed the A761 number was not even allocated in the 1922 Road Lists but came into existence in the late 1920s when it took over a number of B-roads in Renfrewshire. Starting on the A8 in Port Glasgow it followed the B791 as far as Kilmacolm, then the B788 to Linwood and finally the B789 to Millarston (between Johnstone and Paisley), where it ended on the original line of the A737. The majority of this route is still essentially unchanged, although there are many localised improvements and realignments along the way.
When the A737 was rerouted to Glasgow Airport in 1992, the A761 was given the vacated section. Thus it was extended via Paisley and into Glasgow, ending on the A8 at Ibrox. This gave the route its current long-way-round route connecting the A8 with itself, but covering an extra 3 miles in the process.
The most westerly change to the route is right at the start, where it was extended along just over 100m of the former A8 to reach Newark Roundabout in Port Glasgow when the A8 was re-routed in the 1980s. The Blackstone Roundabout was built in the 1960s, as part of a previous improvement to the A8, and replaced an old dogleg on the A761, although no evidence of the old alignment survives on the ground. The climb up Clune Brae seems to be unchanged, but at the top a series of wiggles were ironed out when the housing estates were developed, giving the current sweeping curve round to the Boglestone Roundabout. The previous alignment of the A761 used a section of Southfield Avenue, and then roughly followed the line of the footpath across the green back to Kilmacolm Road. Another wiggle has been removed before the edge of the town is reached.
The route across the fields to Kilmacolm is largely unchanged, although the junction on the bend at Auchenbothie has been rebuilt. Sections of old tarmac showing the original alignment of the A761 here can still be seen alongside the hedges. Between Kilmacolm and Bridge of Weir there are several local improvements, two of which have left laybys, in part at least, while the others are now merely wide verges between the roadside and hedgerow. These realignments all seem to post date 1974. Beyond Bridge of Weir, a double bend across the Locher Water has been eased, with the old bridge lying a short distance upstream in the trees. This, however, is the only notable change before Linwood.
Linwood developed dramatically in the 1960s, largely thanks to the development of the Rootes Car Plant which commenced in 1961. The Linwood bypass and new Linwood Bridge were built in 1967/8, with the old route having followed Bridge of Weir Road through the town, then turned sharp right onto Bridge Street. At the same time, a new roundabout was added to the route in readiness for the construction of what is now the A737 Johnstone bypass route. At first it was the short A740 that met the A761, providing a connection north to the M8. The junction was completely rebuilt in 1991/2 as the Linclive Interchange when the remainder of the bypass was opened. Continuing east into Paisley, the online dualling of 0.91 miles of Linwood Road from the A740 past the Rootes Development was completed in 1963 per the 1963 Scottish Development Department Report. The car factory is now long gone, but the current Phoenix Retail and Industrial parks mean that this dual carriageway is as busy as ever.
The Paisley town centre relief road was built in stages between 1968 and 1974. The original route of the A761 through the town was along Broomlands Street, Wellmeadow Street and so on to the High Street, at the further end of which it met the A726 in front of the town hall. Canal Street was built between 1965 and 1968, although originally opened as a B road pending the completion of Hammills Bridge to the east. This was completed in 1972 per the 1972 Scottish Development Department Report, providing a new bridge over the White Cart Water connecting Gordon Street to Mill Street. The 1974 OS One inch map shows it as a continuation of B772, but it was later renumbered and is now a multiplex between the A726 and A761.
The road from Paisley to Glasgow appears to have been progressively widened as the housing developments were built to either side. A precise chronology is difficult to ascertain as the OS did not always depict dual carriageways before the 1960s and some sections were effectively S4 for many years before a central reservation was added. It is reported, however, that there was a 0.9 mile section of online dualling on Paisley Road West completed in 1967 per the 1967 Scottish Development Department Report. From the OS One inch maps of 1965 and 1968 it would appear to be the section between Newtyle Road and Killearn Drive, Ralston although this is technically Glasgow Road.