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West Flank: Charing Cross & Kingston Bridge

The Glasgow Inner Ring Road was planned as an urban motorway route around the city centre. Only the north and west flanks were constructed, and today, these carry the M8 motorway through the city. The ring road, as constructed, was designed by Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and outlined in the "Interim Report on the Glasgow Inner Ring Road" published in 1962, however its origins lie in the mid-1940s.


This page considers the West Flank of the route, which can be found between St. George's Cross (J17) and Tradeston (J20). It was constructed between 1967 and 1972.

Last Updated: 12th August 2018

Key Facts & Figures

Introduction & Charing Cross

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LOCATION:  Glasgow, M8 Junctions 17-20



Work Started:  1st August 1969 (site clearance and utility diversion from 1966)

Completed:  4th February 1972

Designer:  WA Fairhurst & Partners (Holfords as Consulting Architects)

Contractor:  Whatlings (Civil Engineering) Ltd.  

Cost:  £6 million (75% grant provided by Scottish Office) £96million at 2017 prices.                            



Work Started:  15th May 1967

Completed:  26th June 1970

Designer:  WA Fairhurst & Partners (Holfords as Consulting Architects)

Contractor:  Logan & Marples Ridgeway

Cost:  £11 million (75% grant provided by Scottish Office) £185million at 2017 prices.



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The West Flank continues the Inner Ring Road around the west of the city centre. It runs in a corridor from Great Western Road, through Charing Cross and over the Kingston Bridge. Today, it can be found between junctions 17 and 20. Like the North Flank, the stretch was split into two contracts; The Kingston Bridge & Approaches and Charing Cross Section.


W.A Fairhurst & Partners, who had been appointed to develop a design for the Kingston Bridge in the early 1960s, had their commission extended to include both sections. The main features of the route had already been laid out in Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick’s Interim Ring Road Report (see main index), and William Holford & Associates was appointed as Consulting Architect once more.



The Charing Cross section remains the most controversial part of the ring road contracts constructed. Although not attracting much criticism during the planning stages, public opinion was divided following the start of site clearance and during the construction phases as the character of the area was radically altered by the road. The demolition of the Grand Hotel at the corner of Woodlands Crescent and Sauchiehall Street, continues to divide opinion over 50 years later.


WA Fairhurst & Partners was responsible for the design and procurement of this contract with preparatory works carried out throughout the late 1960s. It begins at St George's Cross (the present day Junction 17) in the north west corner of the city centre. The interchange is small and compact, yet still requires several overbridges, walkways, retaining walls and sign gantries.

Also In This Section

M8 Motorway Index

Glasgow Inner Ring Road - Index

Inner Ring Road - North Flank

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Index page for the IRR, outlining development of the route from the 1940s until 1980.

Index page for the M8 with links to contract pages, construction information and a route overview.

Stretching from Townhead Interchange to St. George's Cross, the North Flank of the IRR was built in two stages.

Inner Ring Road - South & East Flanks

The South & East Flanks of the IRR proved controversial from the outset and were ultimately cancelled.


The Kingston Bridge contract began construction in 1967, with the award of an £11million contract (the most expensive of the four ring road contracts) to a Logan Marples Ridgeway Joint Venture. It was completed in June 1970 and was opened by HRH The Queen Mother. The Charing Cross contract was awarded to Whatlings (Civil Engineering) Ltd. in 1969, valued at £6 million. It was completed in February 1972.


The Kingston Bridge, as predicted, became one of the busiest urban river crossings in Europe. By the early 2000s it was carrying more than 180,000 vehicles per day, reducing to 150,000 following completion of the M74. The bridge has suffered from several well publicised maintenance issues and throughout the 1990s and early 2000s was extensively refurbished. To date, over £35 million has been spent, with several more schemes still to be completed.


The West Flank has been badly affected by congestion since the early 1980s, primarily due to the bottleneck caused by a reduction in the number traffic lanes at Charing Cross. This section of the ring road was intended to be the quietest, with through traffic to be sent via the unbuilt south and east flanks.

Charing Cross Contract Extents

Charing Cross Image Gallery

Contract Extents

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