50 years ago today the Kingston Bridge was opened by Her Majesty the Queen Mother in 1970. The bridge over the River Clyde connects the north and south of Glasgow between the Anderston and Tradeston/Kingston areas.
Between the 1940s and the 1960s it was becoming clear that vehicle use was increasing dramatically with no signs of slowing. Glasgow was becoming gridlocked and a solution was needed.
At the time, motorways running through cities appeared a modern and progressive concept, and the Bruce Report of the 1940s suggested a vast traffic improvement program which included an inner ring road around the city.
In the 1960s, Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and Partners developed on Bruce’s earlier ideas and the Kingston Bridge was planned to form the western edge of the inner ring road. The initial details can be seen in their 1962 Interim report on the Glasgow inner ring road.
At the start of the project in 1967, the Scottish Development Department estimated the cost of the Kingston Bridge would be £11.5m2. On it’s completion, three years later, the bridge was finished at exactly that cost.3
In a newspaper article on the opening day of the Kingston Bridge in 1970, the Financial Times reported that the existing four bridges over the Clyde were starting to struggle under the volume of traffic.
The growth of motor traffic into and through the city centre has been building up so rapidly in recent years that experts claim by 1975 these four bridges would have reached complete saturation point. At peak periods traffic is reduced to 10 mph despite the efforts of the corporation to ease congestion by restricting one of the four lanes in the principal one-way streets to public transport and by doubling the parking meter charges.4
The Kingston Bridge quickly became a main artery between north and south. Our love of cars continued to grow, with the number of licensed vehicles in Great Britain increasing from 4 million in 1950 to 34 million in 2010.1
The map above shows the on and off ramps at the south east of the Kingston Bridge. There are also two lanes that abruptly halt in mid-air creating a bridge to nowhere. These lanes were intended to link the west edge of the inner ring road to the next stage of construction, the south edge. After public opposition to the plans, the south and east edges of the ring road were never completed, and the bridge to nowhere remains to this day.
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1. Department for Transport (2011) Transport Statistics Great Britain 2011
1. Scottish Development Department, Report for 1967, Cmnd 3553, p.59
2. Scottish Development Department, Report for 1970, Cmnd 4625, p.11
4. Arthur, D. “New Road Pattern to End Congestion.” Glasgow and Kingston Bridge: Financial Times Survey. Financial Times, 26 June 1970, p. 13. Financial Times Historical Archive.
5. Ordnance Survey [Great Britain] 1:10,000 Series, sheet NS56 SE (1967)
6. Department for Transport, Road Traffic Statistics.