The urban legend surrounding the disposal of several underworld crime figures bodies within the Kingston Bridge is widely known in Glasgow.
The story goes that a number of notorious criminals who disappeared in the late 1960s were murdered and that their remains were buried in the concrete support piers or foundations of the bridge. It is not specified which side of the river they were alleged to have been buried but the myth came to the fore in the late 1990s when national newspapers ran the story whilst refurbishment works were being carried out.
While several criminal figures did vanish suspiciously at the time and various "witnesses" came forward to say that the victims were buried somewhere – no trace of their remains has ever been found in those parts of the bridge considerably modified during the various refurbishment works. Thats not to say they might not be well hidden or within any of the dozens of support piers! The jury is still out on this one but we remain to be convinced.
The first of our Glasgow Inner Ring Road myths relates to the source of the sandstone used to finish the retaining walls at Townhead Interchange and at Craighall.
It is a commonly held belief that the sandstone used to provide the attractive finish to the otherwise boring retaining walls was recycled from the rubble of tenement flats demolished in the surrounding areas. This was backed up by a statement in the first volume of the Motorway Achievement series of books published by the Institution of Civil Engineers and Motorway Archive. It has since been repeated on various online sites and in other publications.
John Cullen, who was a senior engineer for Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and very much involved in the overseeing of the preparaton and construction of the Townhead Stage 1 contract, explains that the stone used was sourced from a specific quarry in Dumfriesshire due to its "anti-erosion qualities". It was also "cut and prepared to a specific standard". Considering that tenement sandstone would have been up to 80 or so years old at this point its no wonder it wasn't an option given the harsh environment of the roadside. Not to mention that recycling of any materials in the 1960s was quite rare.
UPDATE - DECEMBER 2016
During a recent meeting with Mr Malcolm Munro, previously an architect with Holfords, he provided us with some clarification on this issue. The stone used during Stage 1 of the Townhead project was indeed sourced from quarries. However, some of the stone used in Stages 2, 3 and other later schemes was recycled from nearby demolished tenements. Stages 2 and 3 involved the completion of structures, ramps and slip roads required for the eventual construction of the ring road east flank.
We are delighted to have a definitive answer on this issue at last and thank Mr Munro for the clarification.
Glasgow has many "bridges/ramps to nowhere" however this myth relates specifically to the podium at Charing Cross which now hosts an office block named Tay House.
Until the early 1990s the view below blighted Charing Cross. An empty structure with the look of an unfinished bridge spanned the motorway - it was completely redundant. Over the years there have been a number of theories as to the intended purpose of this structure. The most commonly held view is that it was part of plans for an elevated roadway running parallel to Sauchiehall Street.
John Cullen again sheds some light on this myth - infact he was responsbile for its inclusion in the Highway Plan as part of the route design for the Inner Ring Road.
The podium, which was always intended to support a building and walkway and not a roadway, was included for two reasons. Firstly as a way of "closing in" Charing Cross which had been seriously affected by demolition. By adding a southern barrier it was intended to reduce the visual impact of the motorway which could be seen as far as the Kingston Bridge at this location. Secondly it was intended that the building on top of the podium would contain a restaurant or other leisure facility that would give people a panoramic view of the motorway and the city. The building was to have spanned a "block or two" on either side of the motorway. Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick argued strongly that the construction of the building should be included as part of the construction of the motorway however the Corporation of Glasgow rejected this idea instead wishing to seek out private developers. This resulted in it lying unfinished for twenty years.
The Renfrew Bypass was the first section of M8 motorway to open in the west of the country. Some debate has raged over what number this route was given and of the layout of its temporary western terminus.
A number of maps published at the time show the road numbered as A8(M), not an unusual number for a section of motorway connected at either end with an A route of the same number. There has been some debate as to whether this was correct or map publishing errors.
In all of our research and from archive photos it's clear that the bypass was only ever referred to and signed on the ground as "M8". This is consistent with the sections built in the east of the country.
Further debate has surrounded the layout of the Southbar temporary terminus at Bishopton with some disputing the presence of an eastbound entry slip in the form of a loop. There is little evidence of it on the ground but the loop did indeed exist and utilised land which later became the eastbound carriageway of Bishopton Bypass Stage 1. We are yet to locate any photos of this layout but we are always on the look out!
It’s only natural that on a project as large in scale as the construction of the Glasgow Inner Ring Road and wider motorway network that a number of myths and misconceptions have crept in. These "urban myths" range from technical mis-interpretations of road design, errors in publications and claims that are downright absurd. This page seeks to bring some truth to the debate and consign these myths to history where possible!
Below you will find a number of those common misconceptions which we have come across over the years. While some of them are quite prevalent and assumed to be true, even by those with an enthusiasm for the subject, it’s not clear where they originated.
This is an M74 Motorway anomaly often discussed on roads interest forums: Why do the carriageways split at this location?
Speculation on this has been rife for years but Glasgow’s Motorways only learned the truth very recently. The myth specifically discusses a short section of the M74 between J8 and J9 where the north and southbound carriageways separate for no particular reason. Explanations for it’s existence have ranged from the following: placement of another junction, poor ground conditions, ecological reasons, gradient of carriageways against wider area and even speculation about a proposed motorway service area.
The truth (which is rather dull I'm afraid) was finally revealed upon the discovery of the M74 Hamilton to Larkhall Bypass opening booklet. The booklet describes in detail the decision behind the design at Candermoss, stating:
“This is one of the most attractive sections on the whole Motorway and an existing cluster of pine trees has been retained between the carriageways which for some distance run nearly a hundred yards apart and at different levels. The road swings majestically past the trees, retaining the natural undulations of the rolling country alongside and between the carriageways”
So mystery solved - they did it because they thought it would look nice!
The Glasgow Motorway Archive would be happy to listen to anyone who thinks they know better, or who any evidence backing up alternative theories!
We would also appreciate any suggestions on other Glasgow or Scottish motorway and road related myths that are worth a mention – get in touch through the usual channels or email us: