In January 1927, plans were announced to upgrade the road between Cambuslang and Priory Bridge at a sum of £80,000. Further improvements were budgeted to bypass the Priory Bridge at a cost of £32,000 and to eventually remove the redundant tram standards. By May 1928, there had been complaints that the road was still not complete. Mr. A.B Maxwell (Councilor) of Blantyre stated that he saw no fewer than 3 buses per day stranded on the unfinished road that needed assistance to get moving again. Councilors agreed it needed to be expedited before the public made such observations.
In 1992 and 1993 the main road was given its most extensive upgrade, removing as many bends and dips as possible, with safety at the forefront. Despite this and the visible improvement, accidents have still happened.
Spittal & Dalton Accidents
As well as bad bend in the road leading to Halfway, there were several dips, which caused the road to flood. In Winter, it would freeze over and caused a horrifying amount of vehicle accidents throughout the 20th Century.
Michael Duddy (58) of Northway was killed in January 1967 when his motorcycle collided with a car one Saturday night on Hamilton Road near Spittal Farm. We remember the many people killed on this stretch of road within this chapter. Amongst them, on Saturday 7th July 1928, two men riding a motor cycle travelling towards Hamilton were killed in a collision with a Glasgow-bound bus that night at Priory Bridge. The bridge was reached on both sides a steep “S’’ formation, and it was on one the curves that the accident took place. The motorcycle immediately burst into flames, but the men were extricated and immediate medical assistance was rendered. The men were terribly injured, one them having both legs broken, fracture of the skull, and severe injuries to the face. He was wholly unconscious, and the other, who suffered somewhat similar injuries, was semiconscious. They were conveyed to the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, but died on the way. The men were Henry Mullen and Walter Duckenfield, both of Denny.
On Friday 10th November 1939, forty seven year old Alexander McFarlane was killed at Blantyre’s Priory Bridge. The man who resided at 21 Craig Street had been walking home and was killed outright when run down by a stray motor car.
We remember also two women and a boy who were tragically killed on Thursday 20th April 1967 when their car collided with a heavy lorry at Spittal.
The car had been heading towards Glasgow and shortly before noon it came off the road, killing all three people instantly. The car left the road at a downhill bend, ploughed through a fence and came to rest in a field.
The light blue Hillman Minx car was completely wrecked (as pictured), but the sorrow that day most definitely was learning that there were fatalities. Two ambulances and a fire engine were called out and all emergency services were deeply saddened to see the tragedy.
Mrs Irene Lillico (39), manageress of the Tillietudlum Hotel and her only child Archie (5) perished, along with Mrs. May Stirling of Netherburn a mother of 2 children. Both adults were in the front of the car, the child in the back, when it is believed the car became out of control and crashed into the path of the oncoming lorry, rebounding it towards the fence and field. William McGinlay, a lorry driver from Glasgow, aged 44 was uninjured.
Other people who died on this road over the years include unfortunate souls remembered here from the Beaton, Chambers, Couser, Hendry, Gordon and Thomson families. These people and others who passed away here were all much loved and not forgotten. This stretch of road was notoriously dangerous and claimed lives right into the 1990’s before being properly upgraded in 1992 and 1993, removing most of the dangerous inclines and bends. Accidents continued after the upgrade but were far less frequent.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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