AMONG the most dramatic and iconic features of Glasgow’s cityscape are her bridges, both old and new.

These bridges carry pedestrians and those travelling by private and public transport.

They traverse the city’s roads, rivers, canals and burns and allow travellers to pass across these boundaries easily.

The oldest surviving complete Clyde bridge is the Victoria Bridge, which crosses the River Clyde and links Clyde Street on the north bank to Gorbals Street on the south.

It opened in 1854 on the site of the old Glasgow Bridge which itself was thought to date back to the mid-14th century.

This original bridge went by different monikers including Bishop Rae’s Bridge, Great Bridge, Old Bridge and Stockwell Street Bridge.

Its replacement, Victoria Bridge, was designed to accommodate the needs of a burgeoning city.

At the time it was built, it was one of the widest in the United Kingdom, and suitable to support both a growing population and the increasing volume of traffic entering and leaving the city.

Another early waterway crossing was the Bridge of Sighs which still survives. Built in 1833, it connected Cathedral Square to the new Necropolis over the Molendinar Burn which flowed below.

Glasgow Times:

It’s now better known as a road bridge since the Molendinar was culverted over (encased in a tunnel) in 1877 to form a hidden part of Wishart Street. 

Some of the bridges in Glasgow’s annexed burghs and districts are (or were) reminders of these areas’ origins as villages and rural places.

This photograph of the old Riverford Road Bridge in Pollokshaws (pictured in 1922) was taken only a decade after the former burgh was absorbed into the city. It crosses low over the White Cart, its stonework reminiscent of an earlier age.

The former burgh of Partick, which was also annexed to the city in 1912, has a similar bridge.

The beautifully named Snow Bridge sits behind the newer Partick Bridge which carries Dumbarton Road over the River Kelvin.

Another Kelvin crossing joins Glasgow to a different historic burgh, that of Hillhead.

The Great Western (or Kelvin) Bridge carries Great Western Road over the river and bears the coat of arms of Glasgow on the city side and that of Hillhead on the former burgh’s side.

This photograph taken of the crossing place in around 1870 shows the two older bridges which existed on the site before the current bridge was built between 1889 and 1891.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow’s developing road network during the 20th century also drove the construction of new bridges.

Glasgow Corporation’s Office of Public Works was responsible for many of these building projects and we hold an excellent series of photographs relating to them in our collections.

For example, this image of the construction of the Canal Bridge at Cloberhill was taken in April 1930.

Glasgow Times:

The bridge, which crossed the Forth and Clyde Canal, was opened later that year and completed Great Western Road. The road later became the A82 and the main route from Glasgow to the western highlands.

The Kingston Bridge dominates Glasgow city centre and is arguably one of the most iconic bridges built in the city during the 20th century.

Glasgow Times:

It’s a huge 10-lane road bridge and is the instrument by which the M8 is carried across the River Clyde and through the city centre.

Designed by WA Fairhurst and Partners, work began in May 1967 and it was opened by the Queen Mother on June 26, 1970. The occasion was marked with a commemorative souvenir brochure produced by Glasgow Corporation and is now held in our collections.

Once completed, the bridge became the largest urban bridge in the country with its main part spanning 470 feet across the river.

An interesting feature of railway bridges was their use as advertising hoardings.

In this striking 1936 photograph of the bridge which links Anniesland railway station to its southern counterparts across Great Western Road, multiple adverts can be seen across the whole structure.

Glasgow Times:

Finally, no whistlestop tour of Glasgow’s bridges would be complete without mention of the Clyde Arc which joins Finnieston with Pacific Quay. Completed in 2006, it was immediately nicknamed The Squinty Bridge due to its crossing of the river on a skewed alignment.

This was unavoidable due to the lack of suitable landing points on the Southside.