January – Peter Lind awarded the advance bridgework contract (passing over the Paisley-Gourock rail line) for the St.James Park-Linwood Link Road. This was a separate contract to the Renfrew Bypass & Linclive Link due to the upgrading of the line for electrification at the time. The main office facilities were used as a base with just a site cabin/canteen etc. on site. Piling for this bridge was started.
25th February – A high pressure water main burst near to Bridge 7 (A8 Renfrew Road) causing existing carriageway to collapse. Water flooded onto construction works under the new Bridge 7 and surrounding area. Existing A8 closed to all traffic for the weekend. No blame was attributed to Peter Lind or the bypass works.
August – The steel beams were placed on the 2nd half of Bridge 5 and the remaining deck cast. In mid August Peter Lind & Co.Ltd were awarded the contract to build the St. James Park-Linwood Link Road (also known as the Linclive Link Road). Initial work began in September 1967. This tied into Marples Ridgway contract for the St.James junction of the Renfrew Bypass. (Barrie was no longer involved with this scheme having moved on to Glasgow Airport)
Completed on March 18th 1968, the M8 Renfrew Bypass was the first section of urban motorway to open in the Glasgow area. The bypass is a section of the M8 motorway which lies between Hillington and Bishopton. It forms a bypass of Paisley and Renfrew and provides a vital connection to Glasgow Airport.
The road is predominantly three lanes wide but reduces to two lanes to the west of St. James Interchange. Major features of the route include the White Cart Viaduct, significantly refurbished during the 2000s, and the twin viaducts of the St James Interchange constructed in the early 1990s. A replacement footbridge was recently constructed at Arkleston.
LOCATION: M8 Junctions 26-30
OPENING DATE: 18th March 1968
DESIGNER: Crouch & Hogg
CONTRACTOR: Marples Ridgeway/Peter Lind & Co
LENGTH: 6.5 miles
TOTAL SCHEME COST: £5 million (including White Cart Viaduct)
The eastern terminus of the Renfrew Bypass was the A8 trunk road at Hillington. It remained disconnected from the M8 Glasgow Inner Ring Road for over 8 years until the Renfrew Motorway was completed in autumn 1976. In the west the route terminated on the A8 at Bishopton. This remained the case until the Bishopton Bypass Stage 1 was completed in late 1970. This also provided access to the M898 and the Erskine Bridge.
Bishopton Bypass Stage 2 was completed in 1975 and extended the M8 to West ferry – its present day terminus. The temporary terminus at Southbar (to the east of the modern day J30), was closed soon after though an exact date remains unclear.
The straight section of motorway that runs between J26 Hillington and J27 Arkleston was originally the runway of Renfrew Airport. The airport (which started its life as a military airfield) closed in 1966 with Glasgow Airport, situated slightly to west at Abbotsinch, constructed to serve an increasing demand for air travel in Scotland. The new Glasgow Airport was built with proximity and connections to the new motorway in mind. When the route opened in 1968 travellers gained quick access to the new airport.
This stretch of carriageway has seen a number of minor alterations in recent years, specifically the provision of an extended westbound slip road from J26 at Hillington. This was added to allow traffic to merge safely with the mainline. This section is built to urban motorway standards and has three lanes and hard shoulders in each direction with a 70mph speed limit. Extensive signage is provided with a mix of typical Glasgow Gantries (added in 1994), a portal frame VMS sign on the eastbound side (there are only 3 of this type in Scotland) as well as tradtional verge signing.
A pedestrian footbridge crosses the motorway mid-way along, connecting Renfrew to Arkleston Cemetery and Hillington Industrial Estate. The footbridge which is particularly low in height has suffered a number of major impacts over the years. It was replaced with a new single span steel structure in 2015.
The Renfrew Bypass was not developed as part of the “A Highway Plan for Glasgow”. Like the plans for the M8 Harthill Bypass and its adjacent sections, the route of the Renfrew Motorway was developed as part of a Scottish Development Department/Renfrew County Council led study. It was first detailed in a 1963 Scottish Office white paper entitled "Central Scotland - A Programme for Development & Growth".
Earlier investigations for a bypass of Renfrew were concerned with a route to the north of the Burgh due to restrictions created by Renfrew Airport and Hillington Industrial Estate. The decision to close Renfrew Airport and transfer it to Abbotsinch removed this problem but resulted in a need for good quality connection between it and Glasgow city centre. The new airport opened in May 1966.
Two factors had a bearing on route selection and the profile of the new road. Firstly, the requirements of flight clearances and possible future runway extensions at Glasgow Airport dictated the limits of the land available. Secondly, the existence of Paisley Harbour and a ship building yard on White Cart Water dictated a need for a high level structure which would allow ships to reach Paisley and provide sufficient clearance for newly launched craft to pass beneath. Within months of the start of construction the Paisley Harbour went into administration and never reopened. It is almost certainly the case that no large vessels have ever sailed under the White Cart Viaduct as a result!
As illustrated in the Greater Glasgow Transportation study (published 1967), the section of Renfrew Bypass from St James Interchange westwards was to be constructed as an all-purpose dual carriageway. The motorway was to have continued to the south west (via a large flyover) towards Linwood (see Johnstone Motorway). After the start of construction it was decided to alter the plans slightly and the dual carriageway stretch was built to motorway standard instead. Revised Roads Orders allowing for this change were published and construction proceeded with the addition of hard shoulders.
The reasons for this late reconfiguration are not entirely clear, however lobbying from local politicians, such as Dr James Macfarlane, for a motorway to Port Glasgow was probably a contributing factor.
Construction commenced in early 1965 and involved a remarkably small disturbance to property and severance of land. Demolition of properties was confined to an Inn, three prefabricated houses, two small farm steadings and a temporary fire station - more on this below!
In early 2016 we were contacted by Mr Barrie Old, a retired civil engineer who worked on the M8 Renfrew Bypass, Linclive Link Road Bridge (now A737) and the Erskine Bridge North Approach (A82/A898) contracts. Mr Old was employed by Peter Lind & Co, an English contractor (Offices in London & Cannock), who won a number of contracts in the Renfrewshire area during the late 1960’s– the most high profile of which was the Renfrew Bypass. He studied at Paisley College of Technology and now lives in the Wirral.
Barrie was originally from Wigan in Lancashire and moved to Scotland in the autumn of 1965 just as work on the contract began (he started on 15/11/65). The contract involved all aspects of the bypass except the White Cart Viaduct which was procured separately. He spent over two years on the scheme before moving to a project at Glasgow Airport.
During a long telephone conversation, Barrie provided us with some fascinating facts about the scheme. He also supplied us with copies of the many photos he took on this and other projects. You can see a selection of these below. He also sent us a list of “key dates” for the project which he had noted in his diary at the time. These provide us with a detailed timeline for the project for the first time.
Peter Lind & Co Ltd were awarded the contract in early September 1965 (their first contract in Scotland). The actual contract start date was 15th October 1965. The project site offices were located on the site of the old Renfrew Fire Station at Renfrew Road (near the abattoir) which was to be demolished as part of the works.
An area of land adjacent to the junction of Arkleston Road and Paisley Road (now Jct.27) was developed as the main site offices, with a soils lab, for the Consulting Engineers Crouch and Hogg. Peter Lind staff also moved to this location as the contract progressed.
The contract was split into two stages, the second of which was awarded to Marples Ridgeway. The western limit of Stage 1 was Greenock Road adjacent to the Moss Side Inn which was demolished as part of the works.
November – Thrust pit for the main outfall drainage (via a 36”Ø pipe into the White Cart Water adjacent to the proposed viaduct) constructed. Due to the single British Railways line feeding Renfrew that ran on the East bank of the White Cart, the first stretch of pipe had to be thrust bored under the line. NOTE: The remnants of this railline can be seen behind B&Q between the boundary of the Scottish Water sewage treatment works and the abattoir. It is now used as a walkway.
Initially no junction numbers were assigned to the Renfrew Bypass. Later, as adjoining sections of "trunk" motorway were completed, a numbering system was rolled out which stopped at J6 Newhouse (in Lanarkshire) and restarted at Hillington Interchange as junction 7. Eventually the "non-trunk" stretch of M8, which included the Monkland Motorway, Inner Ring Road and Renfrew Motorway was included and a further renumbering took place.
HILLINGTON INTERCHANGE J26 (ORIGINALLY J7)
The present day J26 at Hillington is a roundabout type interchange with full access slip roads and marks the boundary between the Renfrew Bypass and the Renfrew Motorway. Before the Renfrew Motorway opened in October 1976 it acted as route terminus. The configuration of this terminus consisted of the roundabout interchange continuing slightly north eastwards to connect with the A8 Renfrew Road at an at-grade junction.
At Renfrew Road the motorway has a tight folded-diamond type design with a single overbridge. The reason for this design on a strategic local road (the A741) is due to space constraints. Not only is this on the eastern approach to the White Cart Viaduct, it is also closely flanked by housing on each side of the carriageway. The motorway, although three lanes wide, lacks hard shoulders and the slip roads on this junction are particularly short. In recent years this junction has seen the addition of two roundabouts on Renfrew Road, arranging it into a folded dumbbell hybrid type design.
Lying immediately to the west of the White Cart Viaduct is the junction for Glasgow Airport, J28. When the bypass opened this junction was a “Trumpet” type design with an underpass leading to a roundabout on the north side of the motorway with east and west facing slip roads. Not only was it full access, it allowed for almost free flow for the large amounts of traffic generated by Glasgow Airport. Later the junction was further modified to include a southern roundabout which allowed access to the Shortroods district of Paisley and its surrounding industrial units. Its final and most dramatic modification came in 1993 when the St James Interchange improvements opened to traffic and eastbound access from the M8 to the northern roundabout was removed entirely. The remains of this old slip road can still be seen on the ground today.
Junction 28a is a relatively modern addition to the Renfrew Bypass and opened on the 17th August 1993. It features east facing only high level slip roads that provide grade separated traffic to flow from the M8 to the A737. It has its own page which you can view HERE.
The St James Interchange (J29) consists of an elevated roundabout with a direct dual carriageway link into Paisley (the A726), the A737 and a link to Barnsford Road for traffic from Inchinnan or Houston. It has full access to the motorway. Its configuration has changed over the years to include collector distributor roads between it and J28 for the airport and a realignment of the A737 link when J28a and the high level slip roads opened in 1993. You can read more about this junction and it’s history HERE.
Southbar was the last junction on the Renfrew Bypass and served as a temporary terminus before the Bishopton Bypass Stage 1 was completed in 1970. This was a simple T junction for the first two years where the two Renfrew Bypass carriageways flared out to at-grade intersections on the A8. When the M8 was extended in 1970 to meet the M898 and Erskine Bridge South Approach roads, this junction was retained and it’s slip roads modified to provide a local access. This included a loop from the A8 eastbound to M8 Eastbound and a slip road from the M8 Westbound to the A8 Westbound. The remnants of this can still be seen on the ground today. This survived until Bishopton Bypass Stage II was opened in 1975. It was closed shortly after much to the annoyance of Bishopton residents who had lost a useful local access to the motorway. There are proposals to reopen this junction as a half dumbbell to coincide with a large housing development next to Bishopton. The Glasgow Motorway Archive is not certain on the exact date of the closure of this junction and it has been the subject of great speculation. You can read about on our Myths page.
Mid August – Scaffold etc. removed from Bridge 6 main deck. A trial of a new type of storm water pipeline was carried out to the west of Bridge 5. This was a 6”Ø inflatable “duct-tube” (sausage) that was laid on a prepared concrete bed, inflated, and with temporary formwork templates positioned over it, encased in vibrated concrete. It was trialled over a 200ft section between Manholes 140 & 144 and was laid in approx. 55ft sections. It was decided after the trial it was not suitable for use and so conventional pipes continued to be used.