Edinburgh - Glasgow New Road
|Edinburgh – Glasgow New Road|
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||40 miles (64.4 km)|
|Former Number(s):||A982 A902 A8|
|Route outline (key)|
The road project was the longest of the Unemployment Relief Road Schemes of the 1920s and 1930s. Plans came to fruition in 1924 and work then began. The first section opened in 1927, but it took until 1932 for the whole scheme to be completed.
The scheme length was 40 miles of which 24 miles were new build and 16 miles were re-construction and widening of existing roads.
The road is primarily associated with A8. However at the Edinburgh end it incorporated new sections to assist Leith traffic. This page covers the whole scheme in detail. The background to the scheme and later road changes can be found at A8/History.
As to the name: Edinburgh - Glasgow New Road for the Edinburgh folk and Glasgow - Edinburgh New Road for the Glasgow folk. It was also shortened to the Glasgow Road or Edinburgh Road.
- 1 Progress
- 2 The cost
- 3 Employment
- 4 Route
- 5 Summary
- 6 Links
Negotiation between the Edinburgh and Glasgow Corporations and the Ministry of Transport advanced in April 1923 with a joint conference attended by Sir Henry Maybury, Director-General of Roads. This followed a report being issued on the scheme proposals. It was favourably received. The Ministry initially offered to pay 50% of the costs and further negotiations took place over the following months as to how the balance should be split between the Councils. The Ministry later increased its share to 75%.
The first tenders were agreed in May 1924 for work at the Glasgow end. Eight contracts had been agreed by July 1926. The Polkemmet to Newhouse contract was delayed pending determination of costs of roadwork and bridges on the other sections. However, the existing road could be used before the reconstruction. The final details of the railway bridges were not yet settled with the various companies involved.
February 1928 - 11.5 miles were completed and in use. 2.25 miles were ready for use, pending other sections being completed and 2.25 miles were ready for use but awaiting bridge works to be completed. Work was stated to be advanced on a further 15 miles of the road.
December 1929 - 30 miles were complete but 8 miles could not be used as a through route owing to bridges requiring completion. 2 miles were under construction and the 7.5 miles between Polkemmet and Newhouse had not had tenders let, although this was soon to be remedied. Of the 20 railway bridges on the route: 6 were complete or virtually so, 8 were in progress and the remaining 6 had an existing bridge that could be used pending completion of the new bridge at that location. The bridge over the Union Canal was under construction. Of the 9 river crossings, 7 had been completed with just the River Almond Bridge at Newbridge and the Shotts Burn bridge to complete.
By the end of 1930 only 6 miles from Polkemmet to Newhouse and the short bypass of Newbridge remained to be completed. Note that it was custom at the time to open roads before the final asphalt layer and the asphalt contracts were still progressing.
The delays to the completion of the whole road were particularly irksome and the local MPs raised questions in the House of Commons in November 1930, November 1931 and June 1932. At the latter the local MP said that he had asked the same question "as to when the road would be completed" two years previously. When the Minister of Transport said that the road would be completed in the Summer the local MP questioned “that is this Summer?” to laughter in the House.
In August 1932, with the bridge over the River Almond at Newbridge nearing completion, things were looking favourable and it was announced that there would be an official opening ceremony within a month. However no following news about a ceremony has been seen.
In July 1933 it was stated in the House of Commons that one of the 58 contracts was still not completed but this could have been tidying up works. The road was shown in full on a 1932 Ordnance Survey map so it can be said that 1932 was the year of the full road being open, but what happened to the official ceremony?
The forecast cost at March 1925 was £2,115,000 of which the Ministry was to fund £1,532,500.
The total cost of the scheme was put at £2,273,300 which is not too bad a cost over-run given the length of time of the construction. The Ministry of Transport's share was £1,358,350 with the balance shared between the local councils:
Edinburgh Corporation £223,950; Glasgow Corporation £291,000; Lanark County Council £100,000;
The road also went through West Lothian and Midlothian but those County Councils did not contribute to the cost on the basis that the scheme was to provide work for the unemployed and the local areas were not as badly affected as the cities.
It was initially announced by Sir Henry Maybury that the road would find employment to 2000 men, but this proved wide of its mark. Between October 1924 and September 1929 the average number was 837. It was still a considerable number.
The Edinburgh Corporation exercised general control over 14.5 miles beginning at the Edinburgh end although the work was under the supervision of engineer appointed by the Ministry of Transport. Work on that section was confined to the unemployed belonging to the city. It is expected that there were similar arrangements at the Glasgow end.
Unskilled workmen were transported free of charge from Edinburgh by motor charabanc, the cost being treated as part of the construction cost.
Edinburgh - the new Leith Road
The section from Crewe Toll to Blackhall and Barnton to Maybury Junction on the Linlithgow Road extended to 2.75 miles. This was entirely new road, which also opened up valuable land. Between Crewe Toll and Barnton quite a number of houses had already been erected. These two sections were to provide a route to Leith which avoided Edinburgh City Centre and were linked by the existing Hill House Road and Queensferry Road of the present A90.
The first section to open was from Barnton to Maybury Junction. The 1.5 mile Maybury Road was opened on 21 April 1927 by Sir Henry Maybury, Director-General of Roads who had taken a great interest in the scheme. Its width was 60 feet, with a carriageway of 40 feet and two 10 feet footpaths. It involved very heavy earthwork near the Board of Agriculture's Experimental Farm, where there was a 20 feet deep cutting through rock and heavy boulders. This section was begun on 1st June, 1925. Cost was £48,266, exclusive of the southern junction. It became A902.
The 1.25 mile Telford Road was opened on 4 January 1929. It was 68 feet wide with a carriageway of 40 feet and two 10 feet footpaths. It provided a bypass for Drylaw and Davidson's Mains via the A90 road. It became A982 but was later renumbered as A902.
The cost of the two sections including land, bridges, and transport of workmen was put at £130,000.
Gogar and Ingliston Section
This was from Maybury Junction to Newbridge. It was 3.5 miles, 2 miles being in Midlothian and the remainder in the City. It involved reconstruction, realignment, and widening of the existing Edinburgh to Bathgate road. The carriageway was 40 feet wide in the city, and 30 feet wide in the county, the width between fences being 100 feet. The feature of this section was the construction of a twin box culvert in reinforced concrete to carry the road over Gogar Burn in place of the existing bridge. The fine trees at Ingliston were preserved as far as possible.
This section was begun in October 1924, and the road work was to be finished in 1926. The total cost was estimated at £124,000.
Newbridge to Burnside
A short section of nearly 2 miles from Newbridge to the east of Burnside. About 1.3 miles were reconstruction of the existing road with the 0.7 mile balance being a new bypass of Newbridge village. It would also cut out a dangerous corner crossing the River Almond. The road width was 100 feet with a 30 feet carriageway. Attention was given to the approach to the railway viaduct carrying the main line over the road and the culverting of the Brox Burn, which previously went under the road with its bridge hiding the sight of the viaduct. A new bridge was built over the River Almond. This had 2 reinforced concrete arches of 60 feet, was 82 feet between parapets and faced with ashlar masonry.
This section was not begun until March 1926 owing to difficulties with West Lothian County Council. The road section was expected to be finished in summer 1927, but the bypass opening was delayed until 1932 by the construction of the bridge over the River Almond. The cost of this section, including land, bridges, and transport of workmen, was estimated at £135,000.
Broxburn and Uphall Bypass
The section from the east of Burnside to Dechmont extended 4.2 miles and was an entirely new road. It was through very heavy cuttings, including a 24 feet deep rock cutting for some distance at the Dechmont end, from which the whole of the whinstone for the bottoming and surfacing would be obtained. The Union Canal and the Drumsboreland branch railway required over-bridges. A further railway bridge was required for the old Uphall branch railway at Stankards, near Uphall Oil Works. A large reinforced concrete culvert carried the Brox Burn under the road.
This section also commenced in March 1926, with a 2 year contract but it was not to fully open until 1930 due to delays in the bridges being constructed. The bridge works involved some difficulty owing to mineral disturbance. This section was estimated to cost £186,000.
Drechmont to Boghall
The last section under Edinburgh control was from Dechmont to Boghall, two miles east of Bathgate. It consisted of 2.25 miles of widening and re-adjustment of the existing road. The width of the carriageway was 30 feet, and between fences 100 feet. Part of this section was over marshy land which required special treatment. There was considerable amounts of excavation, as parts of the section had sidelong inclinations. The work was to start in June 1926, it also having been delayed due to negotiations with the West Lothian County Council. This section was estimated to cost £101,000. It was completed by December 1929.
Boghall to Polkemmet
The 4.75 mile section from Boghall, where the Bathgate road diverged, to Polkemmet, just west of Whitburn, was a new build section.
By December 1929 the first section had opened west of the Drum crossroads with the Bathgate to East Whitburn road, since it had no bridges to construct. The road was fully opened in 1930.
Polkemmet to Newhouse
This was largely an upgrade of the 9 miles of existing road, apart the short diversion at Bankhead and the 1 mile bypass at Salsburgh. It was the last section to commence and tenders were not sought until December 1929 for the Dewshill to Newhouse part, with the prospective contractors being shown the route on 7 January 1930 by the Assistant Engineer. The contractors would know who their competitors were! Although plans could be obtained in advance it was still a short time to get the tender ready by the 14 January 1930 deadline. Whitburn to Newhouse was contracted at the same time and it went to Messrs. Shanks and M'Ewan Ltd.
Work started in 1930 and was completed in 1932.
Newhouse to Baillieston
This was a 7 mile new build section. Two sections had been completed by December 1929 but they were split in the middle by 3 railway bridges that required construction so the road was only of use for local traffic. They were 1.75 miles west of Newhouse and A725 Coatbridge to Bellshill road to Baillieston. It was fully open by the end of 1930.
Baillieston to Alexandra Park, Glasgow
The 3.8 mile new build section was the only dual carriageway of the whole route. This section had been completed by December 1929, apart from some adjustments at the Alexandra Park junction, and was open to local traffic only since the railway bridge at Barrachnie had still to be completed for the through route. It was fully open by the end of 1930.
Credit is due to the Ministry of Transport and the Councils for seeing the project through to the end. The road served well for 30 years and had the potential for dual carriageway widening due to its 100 feet width. In addition to the original 4 miles of dual carriageway a further 10 miles has been constructed. However motorways had gained favour by the 1960s and the M8 became the new Edinburgh to Glasgow road. Parts of the original road retain the A8 number but the central section now has a succession of different road numbers as per the Route Outline.
- The Dual carriageway between Baillieston and Glasgow
-  The Glasgow Road near Gogar under construction