Erskine Bridge

Due to changing economic and social circumstances the Erskine Ferry came under increasing pressure to carry traffic and passengers across the River Clyde. It was therefore decided to build a new bridge that would cope with the then current and anticipated increases in traffic and allow shipping to use the River Clyde without interruption. In 1963, Freeman Fox & Partners were appointed as the consulting engineers and they were joined in 1965 by W.A Fairhurst & Partners who designed the foundations and the 14 reinforced concrete piers. In 1967, at the beginning of its construction, the new bridge was designed as the longest of its type in the world (a total length of 1322m) and would eventually cost £10.5 million to build. It is a cable-stayed girder bridge, has a clearance over high water of 180 feet and was built to withstand winds of up to 130mph. On 2 July 1971 the Erskine Ferry made its final journey across the river and the new Erskine Bridge was opened by HRH Princess Anne.

Dominant structure

Jim McCall

Such a huge structure, such a dominant structure. Not many local people were employed in the building of it: it was all contracted labour from elsewhere. There was interest in it, but to some extent it was by-passing the village. So although there was a huge dominant structure, it didn’t actually bring much commerce to the village. I do remember driving over it just after it was opened and it was fantastic.

The village shook

Myra Mackenzie

I remember the bridge getting built. The whole of Old Kilpatrick shook because they were going down that depth for the cement and the whole of Old Kilpatrick used to shake.

The fog

Owen Sayers

The sad thing was we were never able to see the two ends of the bridge joining because the morning that they were doing the joining it was so foggy that the bridge was enveloped in fog. So, we know it was going on but we couldn’t see it. I think we saw it on the Pathe Newsreels… oh, or did we have television then? I think it was on the news on television… yeah, it was.

Progress is coming

George Mirren

When they started putting up the bits for roads and all this it was a bit of shambles right enough but it had to be done. But, you watched them and how great it was when they were putting the sections in. It was like two big arms and they were sitting… I mean the weight on them…they were like parts of a ship the size of them tae be put on there and then they welded them and then the next one… they would… over again, until they got there.

I mean, you had the riveters, you know, along with welders and all that on the [Erskine] bridge and they were working all hours there, you know, and then as I say it was more the people down here that was getting the noise. But what can you do when progress is coming?

Our bridge

Kenny MacKenzie

Being a west-coaster there is always that kind of rivalry with the east coasters and Edinburgh in particular. And they had the Forth Road Bridge so this was our wee bit of civil engineering that matched the Forth Road Bridge - possibly not in scale but certainly in technical development. It’s quite a unique construction.

Terrible Noise

Carol Cummings

We never got any sleep. It was horrendous, the noise was terrible. 24 hours a day, day shift, night shift, non-stop.

Walking across the Bridge

Florence Boyle

Before it was open to traffic, they opened the bridge to pedestrians, just that night, so she [Princess Anne] was there whatever day it was and that evening you were allowed to walk across it. My father came up and we all walked across and back and had a look at the view… I remember it being a nice night.

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