Roads

Originally roads were tracks and most journeys were undertaken on foot. During the reign of Alexander III, due to more peaceful conditions, roads were improved and fords were laid across the Levern. By the beginning of the 17th century communication with the world outside the parish was being extended and improved.

In 1654 Timothy Pont's map of Renfrewshire shows a route from Hamilton to Paisley, passing through Spiersbridge on what is now Eastwoodmains Road and thence through Eastwood Toll. The most important route, the Fenwick/Ayr Road, probably existed in the 17th century but was deemed a Turnpike Road in 1832.

In the 18th century, the areas of Netherlee, Williamwood and Clarkston were connected by the old Kilmarnock Road; this road became a Turnpike Road in the early 1750's, the first one in the area.

After 1750, with the passing of the Turnpike Act, new roads were constructed, which provided employment for the unemployed men of Renfrew County. The system of Turnpike Trusts, a popular method of road maintenance originating in England, consisted of an Act of Parliament, which authorised some of the gentry in a locality to raise money to build roads in their own area, at their own expense, on the understanding that they would charge tolls to road users. The proceeds from these tolls would pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the roads and would also pay interest to the investors. Between 1713, when the first Turnpike Act was passed for Scotland (for a Midlothian road), and 1844, there were nearly 300 such acts passed.

In 1798 Renfrewshire Road Trust was established and they constructed a road system that remained until the twentieth century. A new road led from Pollokshaws, through Dovecothall and on through Neilston to Stewarton; another road went from Aurs Road to Mearns. By 1800, Water Road was Barrhead's principal street. In 1820 a new road went from Glasgow, through the Levern Valley and on to Irvine, Kilmarnock and Ayr.

The Old Kilmarnock Road provided rather a different route from the present A77. The road led through the Gorbals, Crosshill, Mount Florida, Cathcart, crossed the Cart by the bridge built at the Snuff Mill (built 1624) and then up the hill to Netherlee, Clarkston, Mearnskirk, Floak, King's Well, Fenwick and into Kilmarnock.

The present main artery for road travel between Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Ayr, the new Kilmarnock Road or the "main line", was completed in 1832. Tolls for the new line were collected at Eastwood Toll or Nellie's Toll.

There were two tolls at Dovecothall and Shilford. In 1889 the last toll bar in Renfrew was abolished and roads were taken over by the County Council. As well as the old Kilmarnock Road, the other important road passing through Clarkston Toll was the Hamilton/Paisley Road, which appears on maps dating back to the mid 17th century. Roy's military survey of the 1750's shows two roads, the Glasgow/Stewarton and the Glasgow/Kilmarnock roads, following the line now known as the "Old Mearns Road".

In the 20th century there has been a steady build-up of traffic round the old crossroads and in 1962 Eastwood Toll roundabout was constructed to relieve some of the congestion.