The Motorway Archive
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What is the Motorway Archive?
Work on developing the UK Motorway system, which transformed British travel, started in the mid-1950s. The Motorway Archive celebrates the engineering achievement involved in the conception, planning, design and construction of this transport network by thousands of dedicated professionals. The Archive itself is a collection of as many of the documents and artefacts, which were associated with the development, as it has been possible to find. From this wealth of material has come the story of each motorway developed in Britain over the last 50 years. This is the story of one of them.

Region: Scotland

A8/M8. Edinburgh-Glasgow (east)

This route links the two largest cities in Scotland and provides connections to other towns in the Forth/Clyde Valley, Including the New Town of Livingston. At its western end there are connections with the M74 leading south to the A74 and Carlisle and thence to the English motorway system via the M6. The route at present is of motorway standard between Newbridge and Newhouse but between Newhouse and Edinburgh and between Newbridge and Glasgow is all-purpose dual carriageway road. Consideration has been given to upgrading these sections to motorway standard at the Glasgow end and the Edinburgh end.

Poor soil conditions along the route meant that a great deal of excavation and importation of fill was required during construction. In some places, such as the Harthill-Newhouse section, there were dangers of subsidence from old mine workings not far below the level of the road and those workings had to be filled; pulverised fuel ash was used for this purpose.

The Newbridge-Dechmont section involved not only extensive excavation but also the diversion of the Union Canal and the River Almond. Tarmac (now Carrilion Construction) took over the contract after the original contractor A.M. Carmichael went into liquidation.

Contract details

SectionEngineerContractor
Newbridge – Edinburgh City BypassW A FairhurstBalfour Beatty
Newbridge - DechmontSir Alexander GibbAMC & Tarmac (now Carrilion Construction)
Dechmont - WhitburnSir Alexander GibbWhatlings
Harthill BypassSir Alexander GibbWhatlings
West of Harthill - NewhouseLanark County CouncilWhatlings

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