LOVE IT or hate it, the M8 has been part of the Glasgow story for almost six decades.

Today marks the 56th anniversary of its official opening on November 20, 1964, by the Minister of State, Edinburgh MP EG Willis.

It was the first ‘real’ motorway in Scotland, and billed as just as important in Scottish transport history as the Forth Road Bridge, which opened two months earlier.

In truth, the M8 was opened in something of a piecemeal fashion.

The first section to be declared open by Mr Willis was a four-mile stretch of the Harthill bypass.

It was the first section of a 20-mile motorway planned to replace the existing A8 which ran between Newhouse and Newbridge.

Glasgow Times:

Some parts of the A8 were unsafe – it had a three lanes, a shared overtaking lane and a high number of fatalities and serious accidents.

Eventually, of course, the M8 would stretch 60 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh, and serve other large communities including Airdrie, Coatbridge, Greenock, Livingston and Paisley, transforming travel across the Central Belt.

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It would encompass the new Kingston Bridge and the Charing Cross Inner Ring Road, a development which would change the nature of Glasgow City Centre forever.

Planners looked ahead to increased traffic flows and more mobility for citizens, but communities wondered why on earth their tenements and shops were being demolished.

Glasgow’s motorways did allow for the pedestrianisation of Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, which had previously been the main routes through the city centre.

Glasgow Times:

The last part of the motorway within Glasgow – apart from a six mile stretch between Baillieston and Newhouse - was completed in 1980.

That is, until almost 30 years later, in 2017, when that short gap was eventually finished as part of a massive £500m programme of works on the M8, M73 and M74 motorways.

There are now more than 50 miles of motorway within the city boundaries. That huge programme also included an upgraded A8 between Baillieston and Eurocentral, improvements to the Raith Interchange on the M74 and improvements to other key sections of the three motorways.

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Many myths surrounding the construction of the M8 have persisted over the decades - including the rather grisly rumour that several underworld crime figures who disappeared in the 60s were offed and buried within the Kingston Bridge foundations.

National newspapers ran the story in the 90s, but no remains have ever been found and none of the tales were ever was it an urban myth?

We will probably never know...