Kingston Bridge, Glasgow

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Kingston Bridge
Wfm kingston bridge.jpg
Kingston Bridge, looking eastward up the River Clyde.
Coordinates55°51′19″N 4°16′12″W / 55.85528°N 4.27000°W / 55.85528; -4.27000Coordinates: 55°51′19″N 4°16′12″W / 55.85528°N 4.27000°W / 55.85528; -4.27000
CarriesMotor vehicles only (motorway bridge)
CrossesRiver Clyde
LocaleGlasgow, Scotland
Official nameKingston Bridge
DesignBalanced cantilever with triple-cell segmented prestressed concrete box girders
Designer: William Fairhurst
Contractor: Logan-Marples Ridgway
WidthDual five-lane carriageway each carriageway: 21 metres (69 ft)
Longest span143 m (470 ft) (side spans 62.5 m)
Opened26 June 1970 (49 years ago)
Daily traffic150,000 vehicles

The Kingston Bridge is a balanced cantilever dual-span ten lane road bridge made of triple-cell segmented prestressed concrete box girders crossing the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

Carrying the M8 motorway through the city centre, the Kingston Bridge is the busiest bridge in Europe, carrying around 150,000 vehicles every day.[1][2][3]


The name of the bridge refers to the Kingston area on the south of the river. The erstwhile Kingston Dock which was located on the south bank of the river was closed to allow for construction of the bridge. It had been completed in 1867 between Windmillcroft Quay and the former headquarters of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society on Morrison Street, adjacent to where the bridge now stands. It was Glasgow's first enclosed dock. The dock was eventually closed to navigation in 1966, when work began on the construction of the Kingston Bridge; the basin was subsequently filled in and housing built on the site.[4] At the time of construction, however, the Clyde Port Authority still insisted that the bridge have a clearance height of 18 m (60 ft) in order to allow dredgers to go upstream as far as the King George V Bridge.

Kingston Bridge was first proposed in 1945 as part of the Glasgow Inner Ring Road scheme. After feasibility studies were carried out, William Fairhurst was appointed consulting engineer for the design of the bridge and its approaches and on 15 May 1967 construction began. Construction was a joint venture between Logan and Marples Ridgway. The eventual cost was £2.4m excluding the approach viaducts (or around £11m in total). On 26 June 1970 Kingston Bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.[5]


The bridge connects Anderston and the city centre at Junction 18/19 with Tradeston and the Gorbals at Junction 20. It consists of two parallel spans, each 21 m (68 ft) wide, with each supporting a five lane deck. The eastern span carries southbound traffic and the western span carries northbound traffic over the river. The approaches to the bridge are also linked with many junctions of their own, including major city centre ramps and the M77, that are two lanes wide. The outer spandrels of the bridge are clad with exposed-aggregate panels showing vertical joints.


When opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1970, the bridge was designed to handle 120,000 vehicles a day.[6] By 1990, the sheer excess volume and weight of traffic, combined with poor design and flaws in construction, resulted in serious structural deterioration.[7] A decade-long repair and renovation programme was initiated to repair and strengthen the bridge. These repairs have involved strengthening the quay walls and jacking-up the 52,000-tonne deck of the bridge, while still operational, to allow the construction of new supporting Piers, before lowering the bridge back onto the new, more robust supports. It was described by the contractor, Balfour Beatty, as one of the most ambitious civil engineering projects to take place in the city. Indeed, the operation involved 128 hydraulic jacks, making it the biggest ever bridge lift, qualifying for the Guinness Book of Records.[8]

A longer-term attempt to solve the problem of chronic congestion is the M74 northern extension, to act as the southern flank of the unbuilt Glasgow Inner Ring Road first planned in the 1960s. The existing "ski ramp" where the Inner Ring was intended to continue on has remained unused; the extended M74 meets the M8 secondary carriageways a few hundred metres further south at Scotland Street. This change of plan from the Scottish Executive was because of the Kingston Bridge's inability to handle an increase in traffic: the thinking was that the increased traffic from the new road will not then go straight over the bridge and will enable traffic from the south east, heading west to Ayrshire, Glasgow International Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, or the docks at Greenock, Hunterston and Braehead, to bypass the Glasgow city centre section of the M8.[citation needed] At the Public Inquiry into the road scheme, critics countered that this would mean an increase in ground-level traffic in the Tradeston area as commuters attempt to gain access to the bridge's access ramps.[9] Prior to the M74 completion, a solution to the congestion problems has been the Clyde Arc or "Squinty Bridge", which opened in September 2006 – this route is expected to take at least some of the local short-distance traffic away from the Kingston. The M74 extension opened on 28 June 2011.

There is a dubious urban myth that the fourth man in the Linwood bank robbery, Archie McGeachy, is buried in the pillars of the bridge.[10] It features in the music video for the Simple Minds single Speed Your Love to Me.


  1. ^ BBC News article on the bridge reopening after remedial work
  2. ^ Scottish Government Tolled Bridges Review 2004
  3. ^ "Traffic statistics (1975-2015)". Glasgow motorway archive.
  4. ^ ABACUS, Scott Graham -. "TheGlasgowStory: Kingston Dock". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Engineering Timelines - Kingston Bridge, Glasgow". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Report in Concrete magazine, Nov/Dec 2001
  8. ^ Sunny Govan - Kingston Bridge overview
  9. ^ Report on objections made during public enquiry
  10. ^ "CONCRETE TOMB; Repairs may unearth bodies of gangsters. - Free Online Library". Retrieved 24 January 2018.

External links[edit]

Next crossing upstream River Clyde Next crossing downstream
Tradeston Bridge  Kingston Bridge Clyde Arc