Erskine Bridge

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Erskine Bridge
Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire
The Erskine Bridge from the Renfrewshire bank
Carrying: A898
Crossing: River Clyde
Location: 55°54’48"N, 4°28’20"W
Length: 4,337 feet
Main span: 1,000 feet
Design: Box girder bridge
Material: Steel, concrete
Built 1967-1971
Architect: R.E. Slater

The Erskine Bridge is a multi span, cable-stayed box girder bridge spanning the River Clyde in west central Scotland.[1] The bridge connects Dunbartonshire with Renfrewshire and can be used by all types of motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. As well as crossing the Clyde, the bridge also crosses the Forth and Clyde Canal and the North Clyde railway line. A small part of Kilpatrick railway station is situated underneath the bridge at the north side.

The bridge is part of the A898 road.[2] On completion the bridge replaced the Erskine to Old Kilpatrick ferry service.[3] A nearby hotel uses the name of the bridge. It is known as Erskine Bridge Hotel.


The bridge was designed by Dr William Brown (16 September 1928 – 16 March 2005). Brown was a structural engineer and bridge designer who specialised in suspension bridges. He was one of the principal designers at Freeman Fox & Partners from 1956-85. Christiani & Nielsen, Lehane Mackenzie and Shand Ltd were the contractors for the foundations and piers. The steel cable supplier was Bridon International.

Steel was used to construct the deck and pylons and the piers are made from concrete. The road surface is mastic asphalt and consists of a two-lane dual carriageway and cycle/footpaths on each side.

View of the underside of the bridge
The bridge's statistics are:
  • Main span: 1,001 feet with two 120 yd (110 m) approach spans.
  • Width of the road deck: 103 feet.
  • Pylon height: 125 feet.

Total length including approaches: 4,337 feet.

  • Clearance: 148 feet.
  • Weight of the steel: 11,500 tons.
  • Galvanised wire: 1,250 miles with a breaking load of 500 tons.[4][5][6][7]

The bridge has 15 spans in total and rests on 14 diamond shaped piers which have been designed to allow air to circulate freely around them. The deck and piers have been designed to flex with temperature changes. In the event of the bridge traffic numbers increasing the cycle tracks can be configured to include a third lane. There are 4 water mains pipes and 2 gas pipes running the full length of the underside of the bridge.[8][9][10]

At the time of building, the Erskinee Bridge was the longest bridge of its type in the world.[5][11] HRH Princess Anne opened the bridge on 2 July 1971.[12]

Whilst the bridge was being constructed, the West Gate Bridge in Australia also designed by Freeman Fox & Partners, collapsed. An investigation published on 14 July 1971 found faults in the design. The reason for collapse was a difference in camber between 2 girders on the west span. The Erskine Bridge had already opened but needed further stiffening to meet new standards established due to the collapse of the West Gate Bridge.[1]

The bridge operates an overload weight detection system which logs vehicles axle weights. The weigh in motion system uses electric sensors and an ANPR camera. There is also a camera that takes photos of the vehicle from side-on which can identify the haulage company at fault. The system can also check if HGV axles are lifted when they should not be and is operational 24 hours a day. Reports can be printed for overweight vehicles.[13]

The bridge was a toll bridge until 31 March 2006.


The bridge itself is the A898 road and its short approach from the south is the M898 motorway which is a spur from the M8 motorway. The bridge connects Erskine in Renfrewshire on the south side to the A82 (Great Western Road) at Old Kilpatrick in Dunbartonshire on the northern side.

The bridge is set at a high level to allow the passage of shipping beneath.[7] This offers views of Erskine, Mar Hall, Erskine Hospital, Erskine Bridge Hotel, Dumbarton, River Clyde, Glasgow Airport and the Kilpatrick Hills. The area around the bridge has some historical significance as there have been various pieces of Roman artefacts found. Historical items found at the site include Roman coins known as sestertius and a crannog which is an artificial island.[14][15] The bridge is the furthest downstream of all the Clyde bridges and is the last point at which the estuary can be crossed by road. Its main function is to divert traffic away from Glasgow and the urban stretches of the A82 which run through the city's West End and outer suburbs. The location of the bridge means that the bridge is used by tourist traffic from Glasgow International Airport bound for Loch Lomond and the western Highlands.[4]


The Waverley paddle steamer beneath the bridge
  • There have been two known births on the bridge. The first was a boy who was born 19 September 1990. He was subsequently named Oliver Erskine Edwards in homage to the bridge. A second baby, Kiera Sarah-Marie McFettridge was born in an ambulance on the bridge on 18 January 2011.[16]
  • Base jumpers leapt from the bridge in August 2010. A Royal Navy Westland Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet, coastguard teams and officers from the fire service were all called out to the bridge following the incident.[17]
  • An oil rig called the Texaco Captain collided with the road deck on 4 August 1996 resulting in the closure of the bridge for the rest of the month for most traffic, and until Christmas for HGVs while repairs were made. The bridge repairs cost £3.6 million with a further £700,000 in lost revenue from tolls.[18]
A wide view upriver to Glasgow from the bridge

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Erskine Bridge)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Construction of the Erskine Bridge -
  3. CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Erskine Ferry River Clyde
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Construction of the Erskine Bridge". Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Erskine Bridge". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  6. Nicolas Janberg, Chief Editor. "Erskine Bridge (Old Kilpatrick/Erskine, 1971)". Structurae. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Erskine Bridge
  8. "Design 1971 Journal - VADS: the online resource for visual arts". Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  10. "Scottish Screen Archive - Full record for 'ERSKINE BRIDGE, the'". Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  11. "Erskine - Renfrewshire Council". Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  12. "Princess Opens Erskine Bridge - British Pathé". Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  13. TDC Systems Limited (2 July 1971). "Erskine Bridge Overload Detection System". Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  14. CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Erskine Bridge Details
  15. CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Erskine Bridge Mar Hall
  16. "Interesting facts about the Erskine Bridge". Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  17. Graham Fraser (11 August 2010). "Adrenaline junkies jump off Erskine Bridge | Glasgow & West | News | STV". News. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  18. "Erskine Bridge Collision - Scottish Office Pursues Recovery of Costs". Retrieved 1 January 2014. 

Bridges and crossings on the River Clyde
Firth of Clyde Erskine Bridge Renfrew Ferry Clyde Tunnel Govan Ferry Millennium Bridge Bell's Bridge