|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||17.6 miles (28.3 km)|
|Meets:||A90, A803, A993, A706, A993, A905, A905, M9, A9, A803|
|Old route now:||B924|
|Route outline (key)|
Queensferry - Philpstoun
The road starts off at a roundabout over the A9000 at the southern end of the Forth Road Bridge, where the B800 (former A8000) joins it from the east. The section from here to the junction with the M9 near Philpstoun used to be quite busy, as it was one of the main routes for traffic coming south over the Forth on the Bridge, and then heading west to Grangemouth, Falkirk and the surrounding area. Traffic heading for Edinburgh and further south used the short spur of the M9 (now the southern end of the M90) which joined the main motorway at a restricted junction, J1A, heading towards Edinburgh only. In 2013, however, the junction between the spur and the M9 was upgraded to a full junction as part of the works for the Queensferry Crossing, so that traffic now stays on the motorway and the A904 is quieter.
After leaving the roundabout, the A904 heads West, initially skirting the southern edge of Queensferry on Builyeon Road, before meeting the B924 at a signalised T junction immediately before the new Queensferry Junction roundabout with the M90 for the Queensferry Crossing. Builyeon Road is being re-routed in 2023 in advance of a major new development between the existing South Queensferry urban area and the Motorway. Beyond the junction, the road quickly regains its original alignment and winds westwards over gentle hills and through the tiny villages of Newton and Woodend, where it meets the B8020, as it cuts around the south side of Hopetoun Park. At length the road comes alongside the M9, the two running side by side for a time, although it's another couple of miles before traffic can actually join it. The motorway itself is all but invisible at the top of a wooded bank. The road then veers away from it slightly, before meeting the northern end of the B8046. This road gives access to junction 2 on the motorway, which lies a short distance to the south with west facing slips only.
Philpstoun - Grangemouth
Continuing West, the A904 mainly passes fields on either side. After about a mile the B9019 to Blackness turns off to the north, beyond which the road enters one of the last two de-restricted sections, which lasts until it gets to Bo'ness. On a map, the next mile or so looks remarkably straight, especially after the meandering route followed so far. However, in reality the numerous little kinks reduce visibility and despite the road being a decent width, progress can be hampered. The road then comes to a T Junction outside the Champany Inn, with the A803. The junction has been remodelled several times, and is now a TOTSO with the A803 heading south to the left, while the A904 turns right. Again the M9 is close by (junction 3 this time), but again traffic has to use another road to get to it as the slip roads start and end on the A803 a little to the south.
The A904 is now heading north for a short distance along a new relatively alignment, which crosses the routes summit at around 90m before curving to the left through a slight cutting, and heading down to Borrowstounness (usually referred to as Bo'ness). As it reaches the outskirts of the town there is another TOTSO, this time with the A993. The A993 takes the easy route through the edge of town whereas the A904 turns to the right, and drops down the hill towards the coast. Just before reaching it, it turns sharp left, and proceeds to head through the town on a fairly tortuous route, with some narrow streets involved. At one point it is running directly alongside the Bo'ness and Kinneil preserved railway, right on the coast. The route through the town doesn't appear to have changed much since classification in 1922, and still follows Bridgeness Road, Grangepans and Links Road into the town centre. It then diverts via Union Street to meet the A706 at a roundabout.
Whereas the A904 originally approached the A706 junction along Seaview Place, the two routes now face each other across the roundabout, with the A904 turning right to continue its journey westwards along Corbiehall and Kinneil Road. This section has a surprisingly rural feel to it as it passes parkland which was once heavily industrialised land along the shore to the north, with the residential areas sitting at the top of the steep hill to the south. The road then meets the other end of the A993 at another TOTSO T-junction, where it turns to the right to cross the railway and continue its journey west.
As the A904 heads towards Grangemouth, the land to the south rises up steeply, topped by Kinneil Park home to the famous Bo'ness Hillclimb events, whereas to the north it stays flat to the coast, which has moved further out over the years with land reclamation (often achieved in the past by dumping slag and other waste from the nearby industrial areas). A couple of industrial blocks remain, with houses opposite, before the edge of Grangemouth is reached. On the outskirts of the Petro-Chemical complex at Grangemouth, the road comes to a roundabout where the A905 starts, continuing ahead towards the M9, while the A904 has to turn right and head into the town centre.
Section 3: Grangemouth - Falkirk
From the roundabout, the road heads Northwest, directly through the middle of the refinery complex, and feels much more like a private industrial road than a public one. However, it is still the A904, following its original line, with the refinery having grown up all around it. The River Avon is crossed, and then the B9143 is met at the Inchyra Roundabout. From here to Powdrake Roundabout, about 1/4 mile away, there is a short section of dual carriageway. Traffic on this bit is reasonably heavy as the B9143 leads to the M9 at junction 5 (via the A905), and Powdrake Roundabout is the main entrance / exit from the refinery section of the complex, and also the main entrance / exit from Grangemouth Docks for container lorries.
Leaving the docks and the Petro-Chemical complex behind for now, the road quickly heads right through Grangemouth town centre on Bo'ness Road, with various side roads joining / leaving, and a pedestrian crossing to contend with. The B9132 turns off to the left and then, at the other end of the town, the road passes over the railway line into the docks, before arriving at another, much larger roundabout. This is the other entrance to the docks, and the roundabout affords a glimpse of the water in one of the inner docks. The road turns south west here, heading back towards the M9 on Earls Road, through the middle of the former ICI (now Avecia) chemical complex. This section of road can be very busy in the peaks, as there are quite a few staff employed at Avecia and in the docks, and there is also an ASDA distribution centre on the right hand side.
The A904 and M9 finally meet at the Earls Gate Roundabout, J6, although only one sliproad connects to the roundabout, all other movements being via the A905, which also passes through the roundabout. The A904, now heading south west, continues in towards Falkirk town centre. There is a short section of dual carriageway between car showrooms to the left and an industrial estate to the right. Again, this section of road can be busy in the peaks, as it's the main route from the Motorway into Falkirk. There is also a rail freight terminal off to the left, and ASDA has a another distribution centre off the A9 Falkirk bypass, which is crossed at the next roundabout and so there is not only traffic to/from the motorway and the rail freight terminal and ASDA distribution centre, but also traffic between the two distribution centres.
At the end of the dual carriageway section the road climbs over an old railway bridge, now a cycle track below, and then passes the Falkirk Football Club Stadium to the left, with Helix Park, home of the Kelpies, to the north. The A9 is then met at Westfield Roundabout, the two routes crossing at right angles. This is now the outskirts of Falkirk, with housing to the left, and, initially, Falkirk College (followed by housing) to the right. After a couple of sets of traffic lights, the road passes under a low railway bridge carrying the main line from Edinburgh, and then meets the B8080 at the penultimate set of lights. Journey's end comes at another traffic light junction with the A803, which was first met back at Junction 3 of the M9, although the A904 previously continued ahead into the heart of the town centre.
In 1922, the A904 started on the A706 in Bo'ness and headed west to Falkirk. It was extended east in the mid-1920s on the entire length of the B902 as far as the A90, which it met at the pier beneath the Forth Bridge in Queensferry. When the Forth Road Bridge was built in 1964, allowing the A90 to cross the Forth without the need for a ferry, the A904 was rerouted to its current east end so it still met the A90.
Although there are no major realignments or bypasses on the route of the A904, there are numerous small changes that have been made over the last century. Firstly, the obvious realignment through the Queensferry Junction with the M90 has left a short stub of the old road to the west of the motorway. A former double bend has then been eradicated at the Woodend Junction, and there are a couple of other slight junction improvements and easing of bends which have left wide verges or small layby areas.
Champany Junction and the road immediately to the north offers the most notable changes to the route. Originally, the A904 turned to pass to the east of the Champany Inn, briefly sharing a multiplex with the B903 and then cut across a field (a slight crop mark can still be seen on aerial photography). The old road line then turns up the side road at Walton Farm, before again cutting across the field to emerge as the driveway to the properties a little to the north. The first change appears to be pre-war in date, at which point a short new road to the west of Champany Inn was built, creating the general layout of the current A803 / A904 T junction, before resuming the old line at the northern B903 junction. The current road post-dates the 1971 OS map, and was probably built to improve access between Bo'Ness and the motorway.
In Bo'ness itself, the route originally followed Main Street and North Street through the town centre, the current route along Union Street being also built since 1971 through the former industrial area along the shore. Finally, the original route into Falkirk town centre continued along Kerse Lane, before doubling back along Callendar Riggs to meet the A9 in the area where the Shopping Centre and Car Park now stand. A loop around the town centre was subsequently created to the north of the A9, and it seems from mapping evidence that this was part of the A904, running west along Princes Street and Newmarket Street.