B7076 and B7078

This feature originally appeared on Nick Allan's now-closed website. All text and pictures on this page are his work.

The A74 was the only dual-carriageway route from Scotland to England. It was a low-standard dual carriageway that carried large volumes of traffic while having many at-grade intersections with both other major roads as well as farm tracks. It also had bus stops and houses along its length. A new motorway was constructed parallel to the existing road, leaving the old road to be used as a local access road and one of the carriageways turned into a cycle-path. Today it is amazing to think that all the traffic on the six-lane motorway just a few metres away was once carried upon the empty tarmac that is now the B7078 and B7076.

The images work from just north of Lockerbie on the B7076 to south of Lesmahagow on the B7078. Each group of images has a link to an Ordnance Survey map that marks where the photographs were taken. The map opens in a new window each time, so you can have many maps open at once. Cardinal directions are given on the assumption is north up the road towards Glasgow and south is down the road towards Carlisle, and so having the road as the north-south axis of the images.

The first four photographs were taken just north of Lockerbie on the B7076, north of A74(M) junction 17.

The next photos were taken just south of Johnstonebridge on the B7076, south of A74(M) junction 16.

Nick Allan, this page's author, asked if anyone knew what was here. Three people did!

Alistair Bell remembers it:

"Opposite the abandoned petrol station was a tiny petrol station abandoned in the 1970s. The A74 dual carriageway was officially opened in 1973 and some artefacts from the original two lane road remained for some years where the original road was converted into a carriageway for the new road. Some old garages were briefly coverted to HGV weigh stations. I spent my childhood travelling up and down this road in the 1970s & early 1980s. My folks remeber the dual carriageway being built in the late 60s/early 70s and it is bizarre to think that all the traffic went on this road! I remember it taking a long time to reach Glasgow from Carlisle."

Bernadette Molloy went that way regularly:

"Across the road from the old petrol station there lay another one - also a Little Chef which we used to stop at."

And Ian Buckle was a regular:

"The site on the northbound side, opposite the abandoned petrol station, was a Little Chef. It closed down as soon as the new service area opened. It was always my breakfast stop when making early morning trips to the Scottish Highlands."

These photographs were taken just south of Beattock Village on the B7076.

The A701 took over some of the former A74 alignment around Beattock Village. These next few photographs were taken just south of junction 15 of the A74(M).

Just a little bit further north up by Beattock Summit, the original A74 carries straight on while the new B7076 takes a little dogleg to climb over the A74(M) to the other side and returns to the old A74 on the other side of the new motorway.

Finally just north of M74 junction 12 we witness the former A74 in all its full-size glory.

At the top of the hill shown a couple of photos ago, the old A74 looks very empty, as well as an abandoned M74 construction site. This part of the road was one of the earliest stages to get bypassed with the extension of the M74 southwards from its former terminal at junction 9 near Blackwood. This was part of the road ran straight through the middle of the town of Lesmahagow. Still, for some unknown reason, the decision was made to keep both carriageways.

Comments

Fraser Mitchell 24 October 2017

These roads are Scotland's Best Kept Motoring Secrets ! I use them every time I travel to Scotland because they are totally empty, one only passes the occasional car, or tractor. Of course there are few or even nil petrol stations, so one must make sure the tank is reasonably full.
Of course, being so empty and well graded, one can bat on a bit, and it's little slower than using the motorway with all its stress. Cruising at the 60 mph NSL is easy and one can exceed that for many, many miles, although I tend not to push the boat out too much !

Norman Cook 29 May 2019

I travelled on the A74 in the sixties before it was converted into a dangerous dual carriageway. A company called M M Ltd was constructing it south of Crawford (where we left the X30 Gay Hostess bus from Manchester) and waited in the Merlindale Tea rooms for the local bus service to Wanlockhead (the highest village in Scotland) operated by J & J Leith and Sons of Sanquhar. I revisited it by car in May 2019 and the Tea rooms are now 2 houses. To think in the sixties the A74 was a single carriageway! First it was succeeded by what is now the A702 at Crawford, then the A74(M) to Abington, then M74.

Hi when i was going on holiday with my family my father drove down the road to the start of the m6 in cumbria. The engineers should have built it properly. Its the only main road to have disappeared during the last 40 years.

RAB 7 August 2019

Fond memories driving down this overtaking a queue on the motorway for miles and miles...

Robert Gibb 11 October 2020

I love this road . I've ridden it four times now . Twice on my ER5 Kawasaki and twice on my Harley . It's probably psychological but it always seems much quicker than the M74 . You really have to do your homework and keep your wits about you at many of the more complicated junctions or else you might find yourself heading back the wrong way . Sometimes I've traveled for so long without seeing another vehicle that I have actually waved at an oncoming car just for a laugh .

Colin Pole 7 July 2021

I cannot remember the last time I have driven the M74 between J13 Abington - J15 Moffat as I always use the old route because there's many places to stop and not worry about time limits for parking.

Fraser Mitchell 8 August 2021

Further to my last comment of October 2017, the road has markedly deteriorated since then, such that in 2019 when I came this way again, I had to be very cautious. I think the council are just letting it sllde into disrepair, frankly. Obviously the low traffic levels don't help as with money tight, the busy roads are going to get the attention. So if you're going that way, look out.

I have to agree with you there . There are many good bits but there are some real backbone crunchers if you're not paying attention especially if you happen to be on a Harley with the original suspension . I still get a kick out of riding what I've come to call " The Lonely Road " though . No cameras or coppers is a bonus too if I want to " Make progress " 😉

Richard 8 February 2023

Back in 97 I was driving down the M74 and it was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly I had a car driving north to my left, I had a bit of a panic. Then I realised that the car was on what I now know is this road, but for a couple of seconds I thought I was on the wrong carriageway!

Thomas 19 April 2023

Back in the early 1960s my father along with several other men from the Leadhills and Wanlockhead villages worked for M&M constructing the A74 dual carriageway. I remember him mentioning a stretch called Paddys Rickle bridge.

Robert Gourley 1 July 2023

The pre-motorway A74 has always fascinated me, and as somebody too young to remember it (aside from vaugley remembering the bit between Carlisle and Gretna, which was among the highest standard sections) I've been trying for about the past decade to find photos of what it used to look like. There have been some old c.1980s/early 1990s photos of it uploaded to the internet in recent years and I've found these very interesting to look at. From what I can tell from the photos I've seen, most of the road was a more or less identical standard to most of the non-motorway D2 stretches of A1 in England, some of which have been upgraded to A1(M) in recent years. Much of it seemed a comparatively acceptable standard but the bit to the south of Lesmahagow was always poor quality, and I suspect this was why it was the first bit of the old road to be replaced by motorway (I think it was also the oldest D2 stretch, with some of it having been built in the 1930s and 1940s). I know that most of the route was retrofitted with crash barriers and some sections had hard strips added during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but based on an old mid 1980s video I found about the construction of the M74 at Lesmahagow, that section of the A74 received no retrofits despite already having probably been the lowest standard stretch.

I think the photos on this page were taken about 20 years ago and it's extremely difficult to imagine how the old road looked in most of them despite it having been upgraded just a few years prior, so I suspect the landscapers did a pretty good job at hiding most traces of the former road.

There's an abandoned bridge over the railway at Kirkpatrick-Fleming adjacent to the modern road where you can still clearly see both carriageways of the old A74, complete with markings:

https://www.google.com/maps/@55.0231382,-3.1258995,150m/data=!3m1!1e3?e…

I think the junction of the former A74 that remains most intact today would be J22 of the A74(M), where the A75 starts - it had exactly the same layout prior to the road being upgraded. It's also still pretty easy to make out the former diamond interchange at Eaglesfield. Some of the other grade separated interchanges on the former road seem to have been effectively wiped from the map, such as at Lockerbie where it's difficult to make out any traces of the former road aside from a slightly wide verge to the west of the former southbound carriageway, which today carries both directions.

It would be interesting to know what the former D2 road was like at that rather narrow bridge over the River Clyde near Elvanfoot. I struggle to imagine how it would have looked given that it doesn't look suited for much more than wide S2.

I'm wasn't even born when the A74 (barring the Cumblerand Gap) was about, I'm not even from the North of England or South Scotland but I also fascinated by the A74, I'm interested in how the A74 looked back in its heyday, do you mind sharing what photos/videos you have found?

Shaun 9 August 2023

I drove on the a74 weekly from October 1980 to midd 1985 , as a delivery driver .
I loved the the road in every sense, it had character and made you alert after 100 miles on the m6.
I remember every landmark and cottage by the wayside, all the little roads that darted off here and there.
The only scary bits were the bridges over the rivers and railway, one of which was on a bend, and if you were overtaking a wagon on this bridge you had to be very careful.
The little chef's were magic and sadly missed nowadays.
Past Lesmahagow and on the 1966 2 lane motorway you could relax again.

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