MT 106/459

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Highways projects: extension of the M11 motorway from South Woodford to Hackney Wick, London: general planning; minutes and correspondence

Date range1971-1973
LocationNational Archives (see all files stored here)
CatalogueSee entry
File baseSeries MT, subseries MT 106

NB. This file has to be ordered in two parts, MT 106/459/1 and MT 106/459/2.


As the title suggests, this file deals with the unbuilt part of the M11 south-west from Woodford to its intended terminus at Hackney Wick. This was an unusual scheme for several reasons:

  • much of it would not follow a railway or other existing corridor, so it involved picking a new line through residential development;
  • it was to be a Ministry of Transport trunk road motorway, parts of which would be handed to the GLC and a second new route built for the M11 as part of the "phase 2" works; and
  • it was one of the few schemes on which work could progress rapidly because the East Cross Route already existed for the motorway to terminate on, removing one of the stumbling blocks for the Ministry's other plans, most notably the M23.

However, if you are seeking plans of the elusive Hackney Wick interchange, then - well, so am I. You won't find them here.

Much of it comprises pages and pages of correspondence between the Ministry, the consultants investigating the route and concerned residents, property owners, schools, care homes and MPs who wanted to know whether they were in the path of the motorway. It appears that no final route was selected, although it is very close to happening at the end of the file and there is definitely a preferred option. Possibly details of the final route selection are elsewhere. What we do have here is a very clear picture of the proposals and the different route options that were put forward, and a set of clear arguments set out by the consulting engineers for the route that they considered the best.

One of the key lessons from this file is that the M11 scheme came in two inconveniently hard-to-describe phases.

  1. Construction of the M11 on the line of the existing Eastway and Eastern Avenue, a roundabout interchange at Ruckholt Road where a double-bend takes the route onto the Central Line railway; then direct to Green Man interchange where a second roundabout interchange was to be provided slightly north of the existing roundabout; then following the A11 line briefly before passing through the built-up area on a new line to meet the M15 just south of the extant sliproad to the northbound M11. A new dual carriageway on the line of A12 Eastern Avenue was to be provided from the southern Green Man roundabout towards Redbridge Roundabout, making a full dualled link between these two junctions. There would be no access to or from the north at Green Man.
  2. Construction of a new M11 line to bypass the route above from Hackney Wick to Green Man. The bypassed road would revert to all-purpose road and become part of Eastern Avenue. A fork junction would diverge the new route from the old just east of Hackney Wick. A set of crossover sliproads east of Ruckholt Road would allow traffic to enter M11 eastbound and exit westbound. Free-flowing west-facing sliproads would provide direct access to the new Eastern Avenue dual carriageway towards Redbridge, but there would be no other access from the M11 to Green Man. This link would provide for turns between M11 and M15 south. North of Green Man the M11 would revert to the existing road built in phase 1.

There are no complete engineering drawings for the whole route, but there are some small-size plans showing each of the route options in sufficient detail, with junction layouts, and here and there a large plan drawing is included to accompany some correspondence.

Contents of note

  • Divergent lines for the motorway marked on a plan of Nightingale School in Redbridge.
  • Lengthy discussion of ways for the motorway to pass either over or under the extensive BR marshalling yards north of Stratford, held with BR Eastern Region. There are proposals for how the motorway might be pushed underneath in a tunnel - in what appears to be the cut-and-cover equivalent of pipejacking. Two large plan diagrams show the layout of the motorway from the Eastway canal bridge to Leytonstone in order to illustrate this, complete with junction layout at Ruckholt Road.
  • Map of proposals in this part of London shows Ringway 2 west of the M11 as A406, bringing a slightly greater degree of clarity to the M15 question.
  • Legal orders and Ministry documentation confirming that the section of motorway between Woodford and Redbridge Roundabout (now part of A406) was designated M15.
  • Discussions, dated 1971, about how the plans might be scaled down if the North Cross Route and Blackwall Tunnel capacity increases were ruled out; perhaps a bit of MoT realism to temper the GLC's boundless optimism.
  • Plans and correspondence dated 1972 putting forward multiple alternative alignments, each in two phases, indicating that at this late stage no final line had been chosen.
  • This urban option was preferred in order to preserve the open space south of the built-up area.
  • The line of route 4D (passing south of the built up area through open space) had to be amended at Redbridge to avoid a brand-new gas pressure regulating station that had been built without consultation with the Ministry.
  • A cutting from the Walthamstow Independent suggests the M12 would only be D2M - this is the only reference to this, however, and if the motorway was going to Maplin it would be at least D3M within Ringway 3.
  • A note on the phasing of NE London motorway proposals.

People with camera copies

Chris Marshall has a partial copy, and it's brilliant.