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AYR COUNTY COUNCIL - THE HIGHWAY COMMITTEE

Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929

Other Legislation

Highway Committee

Roads

  Ayr District  Irvine District Maybole District
Beith and Largs District  Kilmarnock District
Girvan District  Mauchline District
Maybole Area
Burgh Councils

Note: The photograph of Kilmarnock town centre is from the Detroit Publishing Company's Views of Landscape and Architecture in Scotland - see thumbnails on Library of Congress site here.

Text file only

 

Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929

The next major change took place in 1929 with the passing of this Act. With regard to roads the structure now became:

1. County Councils These retained those powers exercised by the former County Road Board. In addition they took over the functions of the earlier District Roads Committees and roads in small burghs (under 20,000 population). To deal with these new responsibilities a Highways Committee was formed in Ayrshire.

2. Large Burghs (over 20,000 population) The previous responsibilities continued.

3. Small Burghs (under 20,000 population) As said, their responsibilities passed to the County Council.

4. District Councils These took over responsibility for footpaths from the parish councils. They had the right to repair and maintain them and make representations to the County on any infringements of right of way.

 

Other Legislation

Over the years, several acts have been passed besides those mentioned above, which have affected the function of the roads' authority and cumulatively have defined what that function is. In some cases they are still with us today having been incorporated into later acts. Among these is the Barbed Wire Act of 1893 that allows for its removal where it has become a nuisance. A 1925 Act dealt with removing obstructions to sightlines at corners, and allowed the planting of trees and shrubs beside the road for landscaping purposes. The Ministry of Transport, formed in 1919, drew up a system of road classification and numbering that is still in operation. It is interesting to see that the road numbers are based on many of the old turnpike routes.

 

Motor vehicles had to be licensed under the Motor Car Act of 1903 and later acts; the licences were issued by burghs of over 50,000 population and county councils. The registration letters for Ayr County in 1930 were AG and SD; none of the boroughs were licensing authorities. Strawhorn gives registration totals - in 1903 there were only 37 rising to 5438 in 1923 and 14518 by 1938. (1) The actual traffic of course was much greater, particularly because of the number of resorts on the coast. For example the daily flow between Monkton and Ayr was 1203 in 1925 and 4467 in 1938.

 

The Road Traffic Act of 1930 had considerable impact not just on roads but also on drivers, detailing driving offences, introducing insurance, and providing a Highway Code. Local authorities, amongst other things, could issue orders to close roads to allow repair or construction work. They could erect traffic signs; create refuges and subways for pedestrians; provide parking places and run their own bus service. An Act in 1933 allowed the placing of weight restrictions on bridges. In 1934 the Road Traffic Act introduced the 30 mph limit and a requirement to erect traffic signs that would let a driver know they were in a 30 mph area.

 

Highway Committee

The above Act gave the County Council greater responsibility for roads. Parish councils were abolished, Ayr and Kilmarnock were regraded as large burghs, and 15 other towns including Irvine were classed as small burghs. The large burghs were responsible for roads in the town but roads in the landward areas passed to the County.

 

In 1930 the Highway Committee was formed and continued up to the formation of Strathclyde Regional Council in 1975. The minutes of the meetings contain much of interest and in this section an acount is given of proceedings of interest up till the early 1950's. (2) This is supplemented by details of roads built or closed up during the life of the committee, with some further details of major road schemes up to the present.

 

The Committee first met on 20 May when G. S. Barry was appointed County Road Surveyor. He had been in charge of the Ayr District. Other candidates were James Lang of the Kilmarnock District and R. McDonald of the Northern District.

 

A circular letter from the Ministry of Transport on the standardisation of road direction posts, warning signs and traffic notices was noted. Claims from the Kilmarnock District Unemployment Grants Committee for the "bye-pass" road at Fenwick were considered. The Committee approved Carrick District's plans under the MOT's 5 year programme.

 

The previous administrative districts, viz. Northern, Kilmarnock, Ayr and Carrick with their respective offices in Kilwinning, Kilmarnock, Ayr and Maybole were retained. The case was made for a central office in Ayr. The staffing structure consisted of the County Surveyor, a Depute, four Divisional Surveyors, a Chief Engineering Assistant, 5 Engineering Assistants, 6 Clerks, 7 Typists, a Quarrymaster and 700 workmen.

 

Classified roads within the 14 small burghs were put under the supervision of the Divisional Surveyors, and some Burgh Council roadmen were taken over by the County. The Carrick District roadmen were being paid less than those in other districts.

 

Large numbers of unemployed were used as roadmen under a relief scheme. It was noted that the County Surveyor would submit schemes for grants such as the extension of the Beith bye-pass road as far as the Glengarnock - Kilbirnie road and the improvement of the Langlea Brae on the Dalry-Stewarton road.

 

The Labour Exchange referred a letter received from the National Unemployed Workers Movement to the Committee. This protested against the use of the same men on the Glasgow Road Scheme near Fenwick. In the interest of fairness they asked for the rotation of workers. The Committee rejected the request. In November 1932 the Fenwick by-pass itself was opened.

 

Mr Barry reported that he wished to use pit deposit material for work at Machouse between Cumnock and Muirkirk for which the proprietor wanted 3d per ton. The Committee told him to take the material at no payment under Section 80 (Schedule C) of the Roads and Bridges (Scotland) Act of 1878.

 

Irvine District Council submitted several road schemes for Ministry grants. Judging from the County Surveyor's comments' one is tempted to see "politics" as work. Thus the Dreghorn to Drybridge road "is quite satisfactory for all traffic needs and really calls for no work being done upon it." The Shipmill Road, Annick Lodge "is a road of third rate importance, and is quite sufficient for all traffic needs." The Springside to Cunninghamhead road was also "sufficient for all traffic needs. If any work is considered necessary then a footpath would be the most suitable scheme, though hardly essential."

 

Fifteen schemes costed at 330,910 and attracting 268,309 grants were submitted under the Ministry's Five Year Programme and Trunk Road Programme.

 

There was an interesting proposal in February 1933 to erect First Aid cabinets with adverts on roads but the Committee rejected this.

 

To give an idea of the matters considered at a meeting, the following was dealt with on 14 May 1931: - improvement at Bridgend, Kilwinning and widening of Lainshaw Street, Stewarton

- condition of certain roads in Dalry, of Blair Road leading to the Hurlford Housing scheme and of a private road in Mauchline

- improving the water supply to the roadman's cottage in Dailly and the drainage at Burnside in Patna

- rental of Tile Work Cottage in Patna

- retiral of a road foreman

- purchase of a tool shed for the roadmen in Dalmellington

- additional staff for the Five Year and Trunk Road Programmes

- permission for a garden entrance in Alton Street, West Kilbride, to erect a steam pipe and telegraph lines above various roads and to put in a new electrical distribution box in West Kilbride

- a high hedge in Stevenston

- roads on Seafield Estate

- the Institute of Municipal and County Engineer's Conference

- a report by the Deputy Chief Engineer of the MOT on the Canadian Roads Convention at Quebec and the Sixth International Roads Congress at Washington in the USA

- a Road Vehicle Order

- grants from the Road Fund for the widening of Rigg Street, Stewarton

- claims against the Council including one for a fatal accident

- stopping places for buses

- a Public Sitting of the Traffic Commissioners

- request from Ayr Burgh to erect a road sign at Bellisle Park.

 

Some of these items were carried on from meeting to meeting until concluded.

 

In general terms the Committee dealt with major and minor road schemes and the improvement of sightlines by cutting back hedges or demolishing buildings. It considering applications for items that impinged on roads and traffic such as petrol pumps, overhead wires, telephone kiosks and AA boxes. It also dealt with drainage, insurance claims, tenders for road works, staffing matters, road stoppages and adding or removing a road from the list of highways. There were three sub-committees: one for proposed road improvements, another for the Road Traffic Act as mentioned, and one for road inspections.

 

The minutes often make interesting reading, if only for their quaintness. Thus the Sub-committee on the Road Traffic Act, which dealt with public transport and freight licencing made representations to the Traffic Commissioners that a road service licence to inaugurate a service of stage carriages (i.e. buses) on the Edinburgh - Ayr route should be refused as the route between Darvel and Ayr was already very crowded. Still on buses, the Patna to Burnfoot Hill road was restricted to a 14 seat bus because of the steepness of the hill and the narrowness of the road. Petrol pumps were not to project beyond the line of a street and the swing arm was to be no more than 8'6" in length. Pumps at Hurlford, Tarbolton, Stewarton and Ochiltree are mentioned on 16 June 1931 and this old type of pump can occasionally be seen today. It is quite clear that pumps were sited on the pavement and that cars would stop on the road to fill up with petrol. On 12 November 1931 there was a proposal to have an "in" and "out" roadway in Dalmellington "thus taking motor cars being supplied with petrol entirely off the highway."

 

In July 1931 a farmer wanted to erect gates on the old Kilmarnock to Glasgow Road at Kingswells Farm but this was refused as it would obstruct the route. It was noted that Ardrossan Town Council was going to discontinue lighting of the lantern on the island at the Cross and that a traffic census on Class 1 roads would be going ahead. In September it was agreed to take the front wall of Dunlop Primary playground back 12'6" to bring it in line with the rest of the properties. In April 1932 it was proposed to buy and then demolish Holmston Toll Cottage and Kilruskin Old Toll House in West Kilbride to improve sightlines.

 

The minutes of 11 February 1932 refer to serious flooding (3 feet of water) on the A70 west of Muirkirk. Traffic was diverted through Strathaven. The problem was caused by old mineral workings and had happened before - twenty years previously the road had subsided and had had to be built up.

 

At a fatal accident enquiry (Gree Bridge in Beith parish on the Irvine to Barrhead Road) the jury had recommended the bends should be straightened out and, if this was not possible that they be resurfaced with non-slippery material. The County Surveyor pointed out the very heavy cost of straightening out the bends as this would require a new railway bridge (because of the expense of construction these were usually built at right angles to the railway and hence were often associated with quite severe bends), and could not agree that the road was slippery. However, in order to meet to some extent the jury's suggestions he recommended superelevation at the bend and a white line be painted in the centre of the road for 80 yards from the bridge in either direction with the word SLOW at each approach. Camber is the gradient from the centre of a road to its edge and helps drainage; superelevation is the whole "tilt" of a road, including its camber, which by involving centrifugal force allows a corner to be negotiated at a higher speed or, as in this case, more safely at a slower speed.

 

In March 1932 traffic robots make their first appearance. This was in a report from the Surveyor and the Chief Constable about the "fixing of electrical traffic controls or traffic robots within the County," i.e. traffic lights. Three locations were considered: the Cross at Irvine, the junction of Fullarton Street with Bridgegate in Irvine and the Crossroads at McMaster Hall in Girvan. They gave an estimate of savings (76 p.a.) as against the use of a policeman and recommended the Girvan location. The Committee agreed to a trial.

 

In 1934 "foot passenger crossings" were considered, following their introduction in the 1934 Road Traffic Act. The County Surveyor and Chief Constable had consulted with the small burghs and reported that:

"the general feeling was that such crossings would be of little or no value, and this view is supported by an examination of 550 reports of accidents involving personal damage that happened in the County up to the end of November this year.

"In only six of these could the utmost stretch of imagination allow it to be said that a passenger crossing in the neighbourhood might have prevented the accident.

"The most frequent cause of accidents to pedestrians is the thoughtlessness of children who run across the street, and the stupidity of their elders, who usually select the most dangerous starting-point for their crossing - from the shelter of a standing vehicle."

 

However, they recommended a trial at 35 sites and approved 12 at a cost of 11 pounds each.

 

They reported back in May 1938 by which time the number had grown to 32. They considered that they were underused by adults and were only useful where used by children. They concluded that the expenditure had not been justified.

 

It was not just child pedestrians who were in danger but child passengers too when being transported to school. In December 1936 it was said that the saloon car at Glenafton used to take the children to school in New Cumnock would have to be replaced immediately in view of its mechanical condition. A replacement car and a suitable trailer had been identified.

 

To be fair, in 1947 the County Council in association with the Burghs, set up an Ayrshire Council for Accident Prevention under the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Annual road safety poster competitions were held in schools, publicity campaigns carried out and an exhibition toured the county.
(see a "Safety First" collection of cigarette cards from the 1930's for some amusing illustrations on road safety)

 

An interesting entry in February 1937 says first that the foreman at a quarry had travelled over 5000 miles in his car and a request was made for his expenses in running the car. It then says that the car allows him to carry explosives necessary for his work.

 

In February the following year the Ayrshire branch of the National Farmers Union requested materials and equipment to maintain roads to farms but this was rejected as they were private roads. It was proposed to build an Irvine by-pass.

 

Road signs and markings were much less frequent than they are today and warning signs were limited to just a few hazards. Although unofficial signs had been erected by some local authorities the first official provision was in the 1903 Motor Car Act. This allowed for a speed limit sign that was a white open circle above a plate giving the speed. Warning signs were red open triangles above a plate warning of steep hills, dangerous corners and crossroads. Prohibitions had a solid red circle with a plate beneath and all other signs were of lettering on a diamond shaped plate.

Early Road Signs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In 1921 they were expanded to include schools; level crossings; cross roads; corner; double corner and steep hill with symbols. By 1930 signs were available for road junctions, open level crossings and "Dead

Old road sign
Occasionally one still finds old road signs

Slow" signs for the minor road at a junction. There were also signs for roundabouts, one-way streets and parking places. MOT guidance on signs was not compulsory and local variations were common. It was not until 1933 that uniform road signs were introduced. Road markings were not used until after the First World War but became fairly common in the twenties with an advisory circular issued by the MOT in 1926. A 1933 report recommended their use as "stop" lines at junctions controlled by lights or police, and to indicate a course traffic should take at bends, hills and junctions. In Ayrshire in the early 30's the only markings mentioned are SLOW and some centre lines. It is worth remembering perhaps that measures we now take as obvious and commonplace such as edge-lining, pedestrian crossings and stop lines were still to be invented. The minutes contain occasional references to signs and it is perhaps not too much to say that they were put in after an accident problem made itself apparent.

 

The old "fingerpost" signs of course are a nostalgic reminder of this era and David McClure gives a full account of the 16 remaining. (3) All are in Carrick with the exception of two in Dundonald and Troon. The signs were made by the Royal Label Factory in Stratford on Avon and were of two types dating from the late 20's and early 30's. Most were refurbished in 1999 - 2000 by South Ayrshire Council, along with the repainting of some milestones. It is odd that they should have survived in Carrick and not elsewhere as there are other rural parts of Ayrshire. Many of the signs were removed during the Second World War so that invading troops would be unable to find their way around but were never reinstated.

 

One useful aspect of the minutes is references to roads that were being considered for inclusion in or removal from the list of highways. On 20 July 1932, two miles of the Blair Road in Dailly Parish was removed between the B741 at Poundland Old Toll and Blair Farm. It continued on to the Balloch Road.

 

A mile length of the Killochan Glen Road in Dailly was also removed. It ran from the B741 near Killochan Station by Killochan Castle to the Hawkhill Road. It crossed the Water of Girvan by a ford that was very difficult to cross. Also running from the B741 was the Littleton Road that ran past Ladywell and High Park to Knoxhill Road. The section removed was 1 miles from Culroy Bridge to the Dowhill Road.

 

The Muick Road in Barr Parish had 2 miles removed between the B734 near Pinmore Mains to Mark Farm. The section past Ballymore and Barbae remained. Two and three quarter miles were removed from the Tig Road in Ballantrae Parish between the A77 and Crailoch. This ran in a north easterly direction crossing the Beneraird track and had the Smyrton and Crailoch bridges in its length. McDowell drove along it and says there was still a couple of milestones to be seen. (4) As noted earlier, at least one of these is still there at NX123824 and looks quite unlike later turnpike milestones although it is similar to ones on the coast road up to Girvan. It is now hard to read but the 1857 6" OS map notes that it was 17 miles to Stranraer and 4 miles to Colmonell. As said earlier, the road was a turnpike with a toll at Auchencrosh and is shown on Roy, Armstrong and Thomson. The section past Heronsford to Colmonell remains as a public road and is an attractive route with its views of Glen Tig and Knockdolian.

 

Also in Ballantrae was the Auchairne Road that ran from the A77 near Garleffin past Low Kilwhannel to Beneraird Hill. The 3 miles from Low Kilwhannel to Beneraird Hill were removed. This road continued as the Lagafater Road for 2 miles to the Wigtonshire boundary past the farms of Shennas and Barnvannoch.

The Lagafater road as it leaves the Colmonell to Kilantringan road

 

The part in Wigtonshire was on their list of highways and so maintained. It was decided that as it was in very bad condition it should not be taken over. A sad end for what had once been a main road to the south. McDowell writes, "in these days of heavy motor-taxation and possibly some unemployment following the termination of the Second Great War it would seems proper that this old road with yet a substantial under-surface should be made passable for motor transport, tourists and farmers." He argues further that there are wonderful views and that "the provision of passable roads through these glorious hills and moors would mean not only work for many but would ultimately probably lead to the re-population and reclamation of much of the area." At present the road at the southern end is surfaced as far as Lagafater Lodge on the county boundary.

The Brandy Well today

 

As an aside he describes the Brandy Well just south east of Nick o' the Balloch in similar poetic terms that belie its appearance today: "The cooling and refreshing waters of this ancient well will serve man, horse and motor car as well as the native birds and animals of the wild inhospitable area."

 

There is an interesting reference in July 1934 to an alleged right-of-way from Dalry to the Largs - Kilbirnie road at Camphill. The first part south of Brodocklie Farm was a public road. It went up to South Camphill then followed a "steep and tortuous course," and crossed the Rye at a stone bridge in poor condition. It was 6 or 7 feet wide. Between Plann and Haining only pedestrians used it and at one point it was badly overgrown and unrecognisable. It then forded the North Burn. It had been in this condition for the last 50 or 60 years. It lay about mile west of the track shown on Armstrong that ran in the same direction but was on the other side of the Rye Water.

 

In 1939 complaints were raised about unnecessary work carried out in the Dunlop area but the County Surveyor was able to show that if these works had not been carried out there would have been serious consequences to the state of the roads. There had also been complaints about road workers in the same area carrying out work on private properties and supplying some individuals with road metal. As a result of an investigation, there was a tightening up of working practices so that there could be no grounds for public complaint in the future.

 

At the very outbreak of war the MOT put a hold on any new works including the Ayr and Prestwick by-pass, planning for which had been well underway.

 

There are some fascinating entries, which relate to the war, giving visions of signpostless roads torn up by tanks on war exercises and busloads of workers being taken to munitions factories in the middle of nowhere.

 

Thus in April and May 1942 there is reference to the road between South Barr Farm and the new ICI factory near Giffen Station being too narrow for double deck buses. The Council was asked to widen the road and cut back the vegetation, at a cost of 450. Interestingly, given that it was wartime, they refused to fund this work.

 

Signposts had been removed in 1940 but it was noted in November 1942 that they could be re-erected in towns for important routes in consultation with the military.

 

In February 1941 reference is made to the work being carried out on emergency defences - these consisted of immobilising possible landing grounds and constructing road blocks. The reference in Hay (5) to the Home Guard putting up concrete road blocks around the Tarbolton area and erecting 20 foot high poles on a straight stretch of road between Tarbolton and Walston Farm to prevent aeroplanes landing must date to this time. Arrangements were made for local authorities to assist each other in keeping roads and bridges open in the event of invasion or heavy bombing.

 

In December 1942 it was reported that Scottish Command wanted to set up a control on the A77 on each side of Cairnryan, and this would exclude the use of the road for pleasure traffic. No waiting signs were put up alongside RAF Dundonald.

 

In June 1942 the control of the huge bus queues at Dundonald Camp is mentioned. A long layby had been built on the east side of the road for buses but barrier rails were required.

 

In May 1942 there was a complaint about the damage caused by tanks of an Armoured Division that had recently moved into the county for training.

 

In 1940 the Roads department lost 78 staff when the War Office requested a General Construction Company be formed. It was to be a unit of the Royal Engineers. The County Council, Burghs and large contracting firms supplied two hundred and fifty men who had a wide range of skills like plumbing, building, carpentry as well as road building. After training, the unit went overseas. Roadmen also worked on farms to help with the harvest. A proposal that women work on the roads was thought impracticable.

 

Other business carried on. Thus there were several entries about snow clearance including a report giving the location of snow ploughs. Soldiers helped in the snow clearance. An old cart tramway of trough rails near Fail Toll, Tarbolton was to be disposed of as scrap. There is even the minutiae of an 8' tubular rail barrier to be installed on the footpath outside Kilmaurs school - it was to be painted white. Nationally in fact a 1936 report on the Road Safety of School Children (there was a separate report for Scotland) had identified and recommended exemplary measures designed to ensure the physical safety of children. These included the now obvious measures like barrier rails, and opening gates to allow only one child out at a time. As an aside this report has the alarming quotation: "Witnesses referred to the possibility of "Safety First" lessons resulting in the fostering of a selfish prudence among children and in a stifling of the spirit of adventure." "Was there not the possibility," they asked, "of rearing a timid generation, and of depreciating manly courage and the thrill of danger so attractive to the healthy schoolboy."

 

On 5 October 1942 it was agreed to widen and superelevate the road at an awkward bend near Little Cutsburn on the Stewarton - Fenwick road (B778) to allow traffic to negotiate it at 15 mph.

 

After the war, things slowly got back to normal and the usual business of road maintenance was resumed with occasional mentions of new roads such as a two mile long by-pass for Kilwinning.

 

In January 1951 there was mention of an employee misappropriating a spare wheel that fell off a passing vehicle. In February a new access road and bridge at the south end of Patna were proposed. A request from Cumnock Town Council to widen Tanyard Lane and use it as an internal bypass was rejected as the MOT had approved the line of a new Cumnock Bypass.

 

A number of quite major road schemes were being considered at this time. Thus in March 1951 there is mention of a proposed bypass for New Cumnock from Marchburn at the county boundary to the north of the town at Whitelaysike Bridge. Another was to the east of Cumnock from the Meadow to the Filter Station and one was to the west of Cumnock from near Skerrington to the Dippol Burn Bridge. There was also a proposal to have one to the east of Mauchline from proposed improvements at Howford (June 1949) up to West Hillhead. Associated improvements on the A76 were various stretches south of Cumnock near to Rottenyard, Mid - Lowes, Boreland Smithy and Meadows - the old line of road can be clearly seen today. Farther north the A76 was to be routed from Bowhouse over to near Kirklandside Hospital - this is the line taken today and is effectively a Hurlford by-pass.

 

Realignments south of Maybole - these were started in the late 1960's and completed in the early 1970's. They can also be seen in Google Street View

 

 

On the A77 it was proposed to improve the road from Woodland to Ardmillan House Lodge and near Ardwell at Girvan. In April 1951 there is a mention of three short realignments north and south of Minishant and south of Kewnstone near Cassilis Station. There were plans for a new stretch of road from Balkenna Bridge (near Turnberry) to Girvan Mains, and a bypass for Girvan itself from Bridge Mill east of the town to Shalloch Mill. Also on the A77 route were the Kilmarnock Eastern By-Pass Road and the Ayr - Prestwick By-Pass.

 

There were also plans for the A78. Thus there is mention in the early 1950's of by-passes for Kilwinning, Ardrossan - Saltcoats, Loans and Fairlie. A new stretch between Kilruskin Bridge and Carlung Lodge in West Kilbride parish is also mentioned.

 

These plans were not realised for many years and it is interesting to see when some of the schemes were completed.

Scheme Date of completion
A77 Prestwick by-pass 1961
A77 Kilmarnock by-pass 1973
A76 Hurlford by-pass 1973
Irvine New Town - various schemes 1970's
A77 South of Ayr

early 1970's

 

 

 

 

  Ayr by-pass - 3rd and final stage - Holmston Roundabout to Corton Bridge crossroads
Monkwood Bridge - new bridge and 1 mile of new road
Minishant Bridge and approaches - reconstruction
Hoggs Corner - realignment 3/4 mile
Nether Culzean - removal of a bad bend
Maybole to Crossraguel - realignment 1 1/2 miles
Damhouse, Kirkoswald - removal of a bad bend
A76 Cumnock to New Cumnock improvements early 1970's
A78 Loans by-pass 1983
A71 Irvine to Kilmarnock Road Phase 3 Moorfield to Bellfield 1987
A76 Cumnock and Auchinleck by-pass 1992

Sources: Information leaflets, I W Smith and P Iley, Major trunk road works in Ayrshire, Journal of the Institution of Municipal Engineers, 1969 (5a)

The above paper by I W Smith and P Iley, Major trunk road works in Ayrshire, gives many interesting technical details about the Kilmarnock Bypass, the Hurlford Bypass and the improvements south of Ayr.

 

In June 1951 the Ministry of Transport wrote to councils advising them of the new zebra crossings that were to be introduced from October that year. They asked councils to select one third of their existing crossings and convert them into zebras and do away with the rest. As a result Ayrshire lost more than 30 crossings. It is interesting to see that the Minister thought that the fewer the crossings, the more effective they were likely to be, particularly with the new distinctive markings and simplified regulations. Some of the towns were very unhappy about losing their crossings but to no avail. In fact, when the council submitted that they needed to keep 26 out of 62 crossings they were told to reduce them still further.

 

One or two minutiae from this time are of interest. Kirkton Road in Fenwick was known variously as New Road, School Road and Wyllieland Road - it was decided it should be Kirkton Road, and a family requested new wellington boots for their children who were required to walk over a moor to their school.

 

It was agreed to put School Crossing Patrols at 23 sites and the first ones were at three schools in Ardrossan in September 1953. Traffic wardens were appointed at the same time.

 

Roads

The following summary gives details of roads that were removed from or added to the list of public highways during the life of the Highways Committee (1930-1975) as well as some additional information. Some short lengths of country roads have not been included nor have streets in towns because of the large numbers of these although it is interesting to see clusters of entries for housing estates in the 1920's and 30's and later. Nevertheless it gives a good idea of what work was done in this period. The source is additions to the 1878 List of Roads and Bridges.

 

Ayr District

Coylton  
In 1933, mile of the Dalmacar Road from the B730 near Littlemill, to Craig Road was removed. Just after the Second World War, there were plans for a new town of 30000 - 40000 population, initially for Coylton and then Drongan. Work started on the new housing at Drongan but it was reduced in scale in favour of new housing developments in Cumnock. The "new town" would have covered a much greater area than the present town and there would have been major changes to the road system as happened in other new towns such as Irvine. (6)

Largs - no entriesKilbirnie - no entriesBeithDunlop - no entriesStewarton - no entriesFenwickLoudounGalston - no entriesSornMuirkirkAuchinleckMauchlineKilmarnockKilmaurs - no entriesDreghorn - no entriesIrvine - no entriesKilwinning - no entriesDalryStevenston - no entriesArdrossan - no entriesWest Kilbride - no entriesCumbraes - no entriesDundonaldRiccartonCraigie - no entriesSymington - no entriesMonkton and PrestwickOld CumnockNew Cumnock - no entriesDalmellingtonStraitonBarrBallantraeColmonellGirvanDailly - no entriesKirkoswaldKirkmichael - no entriesMayboleDalrympleCoyltonOchiltreeStair - no entriesTarbolton - no entriesAyr - no entriesSt QuivoxNewton-on-Ayr
Note: Not all parishes have entries

Dalmellington 
In 1938 work on a dam at Loch Doon resulted in the abandonment of the Old Bridge of Ness, and using the top of the dam to drive over.

 

Dalrymple  
There were small scale improvements on the Ayr-Dalmellington Road in 1933. These were a short stretch at Hollybush School, a new bridge over the mineral railway on the main road, with a link to Martinham Road. A half-mile of new road to Benston and Boghead Cottages replaced the old line of road.

 

Monkton/Newton  
In 1964, a new loop road from Prestwick to Monkton was built. It ran from the bridge over Annbank Branch railway at Prestwick, up to the A78 at a roundabout north of Monkton. Some short stretches of road were taken out of commission.

 


New Cumnock  
No mention



Old Cumnock  
A new stretch of road (210yds) was built in 1959 south from Borland Smithy Farm, south of Cumnock on the A76. Another stretch (250yds) was added in 1960 north of the Meadow, Cumnock.

 

The old bridge on the Cumnock-Muirkirk Road was replaced in 1960 and the road rerouted. The bridge is easily accessed from the present main road.

 

Ochiltree 
A quarter mile length of the Mill of Shield Road, Drongan from its junction with the Drongan-Littlemill Road (B730) was relaced by a new section in 1955.

 

A new bridge in Ochiltree was built in 1963.

 

St Quivox  
The effects of expanding Prestwick Airport can be seen in the stopping up of nearly one mile of the Sherwood Road in 1954 and 1955 from its junction with the A719 Ayr-Galston Road to the junction with Glenburn Road. Part of St Quivox Road (480 yards) was closed in 1954 and then in 1956 two further

Based on 1945 1" map with thanks to Ordnance Survey             

Other image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Images reproduced with kind permission

of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

 

stretches from each end of the closed section, leaving only two short stretches of track. In the 1950's the remains of Fail abbey were used to provide foundations at the airport. (7)

 

In 1960, 595 yards of Sandyford Road in Monkton were removed between its junction with the Ayr-Galston Road (A719) and Shields Farm.

 

In the early 1930's there were plans to bypass Monkton and Prestwick but these were shelved in favour of an Ayr bypass.

 

Beith and Largs District

Beith

Click for larger image Click for larger image
Approach road to Clark's Bridge, north of Beith. A bridge is shown here on Blaeu's map of 1654. This one was rebuilt in 1715. On the bridge. It was replaced in the 1930's with a new road on a massive embankment under which a culvert runs.


A mile and a quarter of Middleton Road from near Highgate to Lochend was removed in 1952. The Beith bypass of about one and a half miles length was built in 1933. It ran northwards from Manrahead to Knowehead.

 

Short stretches of Kirk Road and Elms Place in the town centre were removed in 1962.

 

Dalry
In 1940/41, work on the new Muirhead reservoir on the Largs-Kilbirnie Road led to a rerouting of over a mile of road between Blairpark and Whitehill. The old road lies near the reservoir.

 

In 1938, just over a half mile of the Pitconburn Road was removed from near Carsehead to the Maichbridge Road near Burnside Place. A further half mile was removed from the Garnock to the Dalry-Kilbirnie Road near Burnside Bridge.

 

Girvan District

Ballantrae  
In Ballantrae itself, the old bridge was replaced in 1965. In 1933, 5/8 of a mile was removed from Finnards Road, and one mile from Balkissock Farm to a ruined farm called Liglea. Most of the Mains of Tig Road (15/8 mile) running from Mains of Tig Farm to Ballymore was removed.

 

In 1934, a new road just over a mile in length, the Downan Road, was built between Big Park Road near Garleffin to Downan Cottages. It ran past Downan Farm

 

Colmonell  
In 1960 Black Clauchrie Road, Barrhill was added to the list. It runs for two and a half miles from the A714 at Blair, past Laggan Farm to Darnaconnar House.

 

In Pinwherry, the Sixpence - Drumskeoch Road was added in 1962. It was 1 miles in length and left the A714 at Sixpence and ran towards Drumskeoch and Farden Farms. Bardrochat Road in Colmonell was extended by a mile in 1960, continuing eastwards from Bardrochat House to the access road to Ruchal Farm.

 

Girvan  
In 1963, just over half a mile of the Newton Kennedy Road from the A77 near Bridge Mill Railway Station southwards to Knockavalley, was removed from the list. This appears to be the present Golf Course Road running from near the bridge on the A77 north of Girvan down to the north side of the river opposite the harbour, so it must have been reinstated at some time.

 

A similar length of road from Chapeldonan to the Ladywell Road to the east was removed. Eleven hundred yards of the Ladywell Road was removed from this point to the B741 near Macrindlestone.

 

Irvine District  There is no mention in the above mentioned source of the new roads built in this district. There were of course major improvements to main roads such as the A78 as already referred to, and there were major changes when the new town of Irvine was built. We have already noted some of these changes but they are so numerous that it is best if the reader compares the road network as shown on one of the older OS maps with a more modern map.

 

Kilmarnock District

Dundonald

Part of the Monkton-Loans Road (277 yds) near Southside Farm was removed in 1959 as traffic was using the new trunk road section.

 

Although no date is given, half a mile of road, the Gailes Cart Road, was built from the Ayr-Irvine Road near Newhouse Farm to the Military Camp. A further 560 yards were added in 1935.

 

Another new road was built in 1937. It was just under a mile in length and ran from Crossburn Farm, Loans to Craiksland Quarry.

 

Riccarton

Cadger's Road was renamed Cessnock Road in 1945. It had been added in 1908 and ran from the Mauchline road up to Howie's Brickworks

 

In 1933, 5 furlongs of the North Netherland Road from the A76 near Crossroads to West Overland Farm was removed. Other removals were half a mile of Whatriggs and Newmill roads running from the Riccarton Road (A734) near Kaimshill to the entrance to New Mill. This included an iron footbridge over the Irvine near Struthers Ford. A similar length of the Skerrington Road between Skerrington and Milton Hill Farms was also removed.

 

Fenwick

In 1941, a few hundred yards of the A719 were rerouted when the old bridge over the Fenwick Water was replaced. This was near Waterside between the bridge and the A77.

 

Kilmarnock

The growth in traffic in the 1930's led to plans for a bypass in Kilmarnock. The proposed route was to the west of the town but although work began on it the war intervened and today only the stretch of dual carriageway on Western Road is testimony to the project.

Western Road, Kilmarnock
Western Road, Kilmarnock Kilmarnock town centre, c.1900

After the war, despite major congestion, it was not until the 1970's that a bypass was built. In the intervening years roundabouts, traffic lights, and a one-way system were tried out in the town. (8) The new road linked two previously completed sections of dual carriageway north and south of Kilmarnock giving dual carriageway from Fenwick to Ayr. There was an associated road bypassing Hurlford.

 

This new stretch of the A77 is built mostly over boulder clay; but the Hurlford bypass required the excavation of 12 feet of peat and the construction of a lightweight embankment of pulverised fuel ash on a 30 foot depth of soft silt. This embankment, which is 20 feet high as it goes over Hurlford Moss effectively extends a further 12 feet below ground and is laid on a three foot layer of rock. Drainage on both roads is complex. (9)

 

Loudoun

Burnfoot Road was added in 1936 and ran for just over half a mile from Muck's Bridge on Foulpapple Road westwards to Burnfoot Farm and then towards Brocklees Farm.

 

Two furlongs of Whatriggs Road near its junction with East Newton Road was removed in 1933 but restored to the list three years later. Whatriggs Road ran from the Galston to Kingswells Road to near Whatriggs Farm.

 

In 1965 just under half a mile of Milton Road (Loudoun Kirk Road) was removed. It ran from just west of Burnbank Bridge to the road leading to Ladyton. More of this road was closed in 1999.

 

Mauchline District

Auchinleck  

Mill Affleck Road that ran for just over a mile from the A70 at Ochiltree Tile Works to the B7036 near Barony Pit was removed in 1933.

 

Work on the A70 was carried out east of Boghead in 1963 when the road was realigned and a new bridge built over the Boghead Burn. Cronberry road end was improved the following year.

 

Also in 1963 Rigg Road was realigned between Rigg Toll and Rigg Farm.

 

Mauchline

Sawerston Road, mile in length, was removed in 1933. It ran from Darnhay Road to Auchmillan.

 

Howford Bridge was opened in 1961/62 and the old bridge bypassed. A road closure was taken out on the old bridge in 1999.

 

Muirkirk

Aitkencleugh Road from Sorn road
Road to Netherwood

In 1933 a new bridge and mile of approach roads were built on the A70 over the River Ayr near Wellwood. Stretches of the old road can still be seen. Details of the Sanquhar road are given.

 

One mile of the Aitkencleugh Road was removed in 1959. It ran from the Muirkirk-Sorn Road near Townhead of Greenock north and then east by way of a ford (see Muirkirk entry) to Aitkencleugh. The rest of the road to Netherwood remains on the list. The old track with its double hedgerow is easily spotted from the Sorn road.

 

In the 1990's, part of the road serving Glenbuck was removed to facilitate opencast mining operations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorn

In 1953, one mile of road from the Galston - Sorn Road up to High Braes was removed. It left the Galston - Sorn Road, two and a half miles north of Sorn, and passed North Blairkip Farm on its way to High Braes. There is a further mile of track leading to a sheepfold.

 

Maybole District

Early AA road sign in Culroy

Maybole

Road improvements in Maybole parish are not noted in the amended 1878 List. However, it is quite clear when driving between Ayr and Girvan that there have been major improvements to the A77 as evidenced by the numerous lay-bys and superseded stretches of old road. These date from the early 1970's.

 

 

 

 

 

Barr

The Muick Road ran through Colmonell and Barr parishes from Pinwherry via Fardenreoch, Docherneil and Ballymore over to Pinclanty on the B734. In 1932 2 miles of the Muick Road from the B734 to Mark Farm Roadend was removed. This left a mile and a quarter from here to Docherneil Bridge as a public road in Barr parish. From there it continues as a public road in Colmonell parish to Pinwherry.

 

Nearly three miles of road was added in 1960. This was the Black Clauchrie Road in Barrhill that ran from the A714 at Blair northeast by Laggan Farm to Darnaconnar House.

 

Kirkoswald

In 1932, 1 miles of the Littleton Road between Culroy Bridge and the Dowhill Road was removed. This is still a well-defined track about mile from the A77 running south from near Turnberry Holiday Park to the Industrial Estate north of Girvan. It contains a number of bridges including Lady Bank Bridge and is very attractive as it winds between overgrown hedgerows.

 

The following year the Corriston Road was removed. This went from Kirkoswald Church south over a couple of fords at Corriston Farm to the Hollowshean Road just over half a mile away. One hundred yards was added in 1955. Also removed in 1933 was mile of the Drummochreen Cairn Road near Craigdow in the hills about 3 miles south of Maybole.

 

Straiton

In 1939 the old Bridge of Ness (at the north end of Loch Doon) was replaced by a dam (image) and various sections of road alongside Loch Doon were removed from the list.

Old road beside Loch Doon
The old road can be seen near the loch

These were: 1185 yards south from the bridge; 1890 yards south of Beoch Farm as far as the old bridge over the Garpel Burn; 2100 yards south of Lamdoughty; and a stretch of 110 yards near Craigmalloch Holding, a total of 3 miles (see also Dalmellington). Much of the old road can still be seen today from the new stretches of road.

 

Over a quarter of a mile of Holehouse Road north from Glenhead Cottage was removed in 1957. This is part of the old hill road from Straiton to Patna.

 

Maybole Area

Although not a County Council initiative, Maybole Burgh commissioned a development survey of Maybole (10) in the late 1950's and this included transport in its remit. The writer analysed traffic problems in the town, particularly the narrowness of the High Street and proposed a by-pass to the north of the town centre close to the railway line. This, however, was never built.

 

Interestingly, the writer notes one of those minor administrative details on local transport that are all too often forgotten. This was that in 1947 the County Council and the Agricultural Executive Committee introduced a new programme of housing for agricultural workers. They could either be housed on the edges of towns where they would be able to enjoy the amenities of the town yet be within easy reach of their place of work, or else settled in groups of 6, 8 or 10 houses on a bus route. Both of course are dependent on regular bus services and when these became less frequent it made travel difficult for the residents.

 

Burgh Councils

Burgh Councils had a limited responsibility for roads. (11) Thus at one meeting of Ayr Burgh in 1930 they only considered road direction posts and signs. In 1931, Girvan's Bus Stance Committee granted Girvan Motors a stance for one taxi at 30/- rental for the summer, and J. S. Bingham a stance for a charabanc and a taxi at 4.10.0. It was agreed to keep an area near Carson's Stores free of "standing private cars" so that buses could stop there.

 

References

1. J Strawhorn, History of Prestwick, John Donald, Edinburgh 1994

2. CO3/8/2/ - Ayrshire Archives or see Council Minutes by year, Local History Collection, Carnegie Library, Ayr

3. David McClure, Old Fingerposts in Ayr, Ayrshire Notes No.18, Spring 2000

4. J Kevan McDowell, Carrick Gallovidian, Ayr, 1947

5. S Hay, Gathered Threads, Tarbolton

5a I W Smith and P Iley, Major trunk road works in Ayrshire, Journal of the Institution of Municipal Engineers, 1969

6. Janet Retter, Drongan, The Story of a Mining Village, Cumnock and Doon Valley District Council, 1978

7. William J Dillon, The Trinitarians of Failford, AANHS Collections, 2nd Series, Vol.4, 1958

8. J Mackay, Kilmarnock, Alloway Publishing, Darvel 1992

9. leaflet produced by Ayr County Council for the opening of road

10. Survey Report, I Cooper - copy in Local History Collection, Carnegie Library, Ayr

11. copies held in Local History Collection, Carnegie Libray, Ayr

 

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