National Archives 2003-04-08

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MT 39/147

This file is largely concerned with a proposal, raised at different times by two members of the Kent County Council roads committee—A Hinge and Mr Monins—that a road be constructed to motor road standard to bypass both A20 and A2 (A20 trunk by the 1936 act, A2 trunk by the 1946 act) to allow weekend traffic between London and the coast, which was apparently the main source of congestion within Kent, to reach the coast without going through Maidstone or the Medway towns and without building expensive and difficult bridges over the river Medway and in the case of the Maidstone Bypass the railway. This debate ran from 1938 to 1948. At the start of the debate, the MOT had not yet agreed in principle that roads should be constructed to motorway standard at all. By the end of the debate, the general view appeared to be that while weekend traffic was definitely a problem, and would be well served by a motorway since it was basically long-distance traffic, it would still be better to build the Medway Towns and Maidstone bypasses because there was a significant amount of weekday traffic which travelled entirely within the county of Kent and would be better served by the town bypasses rather than by a motorway, which would not be close enough or convenient enough to offer enough of a time savings to promote diversion off the old and inferior trunk roads. So there was no real cost advantage to substituting the motorway for the bypasses, even though from the POV of weekend traffic it was redundant to have the Maidstone and Medway Towns bypasses within 4 miles of each other.

There are a number of specific items in this file that are worth reproducing. This is a specific-corridor file, however, and so of second-order importance. For this session it is but an opportunity target.

MT 39/657

Covering dates 1942-60, closure date 1991, original file code HGP 5/2/020. “Road works programme—selection of schemes—Motorways.” This deals with the nitty-gritty of motorway programming and is an important file. It is difficult to mine, however, as it has a lot of tables which will have to be scanned in rather than typed, and some of the memoranda are maddeningly specific. Some of the high-level memoranda are worth reproducing, however. (Proceeding back to front, contrary to usual practice.)



(Copy to Mr TG Newcomen.)


Until the advent of the motor, all types of traffic were comparatively slow-moving. Little difficulty was experienced in accommodating it on the public highways, and segregation of the different types was not called for.

The speed of the modern motor has altered this state of affairs and, in general, the old public highway is inadequate to deal with modern traffic, which has increased greatly.

The undesirability of all types of traffic—motor, horse-driven and pedal cycle—using the same pavement, is generally admitted, and our present policy of providing for the segregation of pedal cycle traffic from motor traffic is sound.

If, however, full advantage is to be obtained from the high speed and flexibility of the modern motor vehicle, consideration will have tobe given, when formulating general plans for the future highway development of the country, to the question whether or not motorways should be constructed.

On Page 3 of M88 of the Experimental Work on Highways (Technical) Committee, a copy of which documentis attched, reference is made to the saving in time effected by the use of roads confined to motor vehicles.

In Germany, it was ascertained that a saving in time of, approximately, 46% was effected by using a motorway instead of a parallel main road. In the United States of America, the saving effected by ysing a “parkway” instead of the parallel section of the Old Boston Post Road, was 34%. It should be noted, however, that the upper speed limit of the parkway was 40 MPH, and it would, therefore, be reasonable to assume that, without this restriction, the saving in time would have approximated to that effected in Germany.

Motorways in Germany are sited some distance from developed areas, and it would appear that in arriving at the saving in time effected, no account was taken of the time for traffic to reach the motorway from the urban area where the traffic would, in general, originate.

This factor has an important bearing on the use of a motorway by traffic. Working on the German figures, and assuming that the use of a motorway would necessitate vehicles covering 20 “dead” miles, which they would not do if they used the normal highway system, we find that, in general, it is unlikely that traffic would be attracted to a motorway for a journey of les than 50 miles. If, of course, the places of origin and termination of a vehicle where close to the points of access to the motorway, this figure would be reduced. Accepting the figure of 50 miles as being a reasonable one, we see that in a country so compact and small as Great Britain, the scope for motorways is limited.

If, however, full advantage is to be taken of the speed, mobility and cheapness of motor transport from an industrial point of view for semi-long distance and long distance journeys between industrial ares and the chief exporting ports, particularly those on the West Coast, I suggest that a number of roads confined to motor traffic and connecting with the normal highway system at selected points, is justified.

The main centres of population in England are: (a) London (b) South Lancashire and North Cheshire (c) Birmingham and the Black Country (d) The Wst Riding of Yorkshire (e) The North East Coast

In Scotland, it is the Glasgow and Edinburgh belt, and in Wales, Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. These ares, together with the Potteries and the Leicester-Nottingham-Derby area, also represent the main industrial concentrations.

The two largest ports in the country are London and Liverpool which, in 1939, delt with imports and exports amounting to £483,000,000 and £323,000,000 respectively. Hull, Glasgow, and Manchester, were the next three in order of importance, handling £73,000,000, £61,000,000 and £61,000,000 repectively. From an export point of view Liverpool handled the most trade (£139,000,000) followed very closely by London. The next most important port was Glsgow, which exported £34,000,000.

Bearing the foregoing considerations in mind, I suggest that the foloowing 3 proposals merit serious consideration when formulating the future highway policy of the country:

1 A new road, commencing on the outskirts of the Metropolitan area, and proceeding in a north westerly direction to the Birmingham area and thence north to Lancashire and Scotland. This is undoubtedly the principal long distance traffic artery of the country, and it connects the main centres of population and industry, passes in close proximity to the three main ports on the Wst Foast, and is consistently heavily trafficked. Furthermore, it is the main means of communication between England and Scotland. It would have a total length approximating to 360 miles, and between London and Birmingham should, in the main, be sited on the north east side of Trunk Road 11, and reasonably near the latter. If this was done, it would attract the through traffic using the Trunk Road, and would also cater for traffic from Northampton and Rugby to London. 2 A new road, leaving 91) in the vicinity of Coventry, and passing in a general northerly direction to the Leeds area. This road would pass in close proximity to the important industrial areas of Leicester, Derby, Sheffield and Nottingham, and in conjunction with proposal No. (1) would provide a greatly improved means of communication with London. This road would be approximately 95 miles in length. 3 This proposal is one which has long needed doing, and is an extension of the Liverpool-East Lancashire Road into the West Riding. The present road communications between these two most important industrial areas is inadequate, and th necessity of improving the present conditions has long been realised. This proposal has a length of about 45 miles, and could, if necessary, be extended to Hull, which is the main port (excluding London) on the East Coast of GB.

Two other proposals, not quite so important, are:

4 A ring road to Birmingham and the Black Country to deflect through traffic from the built-up area. Althoug this scheme is of a somewhat local character, it would, from a Trunk Road point of view, be a great advantage, as it would obviate the necessity of through traffic on 7 Trunk Roads which converge on Birmingham, passing through the built-up area; this road would have a length of approximately 45 miles. 5 The construction of a new road between the Birmingham area and Bristol. This road, in conjunction with proposals (4) and (1), would provide greatly improved facilities between the 4 major ports on the West Coast, ie Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol.

Superimposed on the existing highway system, the foregoing scheme would connect for through traffic purposes practically all the principal indutrial areas of the country, and the first 5 ports of the country handling nearly 75% of the total import and export trades, would be adjacent to the roads. The North Est Coast industrial area could be brought within its ambit by the extension of proposal No (2) as far as the Newcastle district.

The termination at the London end of Proposal No (1) could be either the North Orbital Road, or, if possible, the North Circular Road. It is, however, probable that a connection with the latter would not be feasible, and in that case, the completion of the North Orbital Road would be an essential part of the major scheme.

The new road should consist of two 22’ or 24’ carriageways, and the communications should only be made to the existing highway system at selected points by means of cloverleaf layouts, and they shouldnot terminate in a built-up area, in case future extensions are found desirable.

The total mileage of roads suggested is about 735 miles, and at £80,000 per mile the cost of the scheme would be £58,800,000.

Such a scheme should, I suggest, be considered as the backbone of the future highway system of the country, and I submit it for your consideration.

The attached plan indicates diagrammatically the roads referred to.

(sgd) CE Hollinghurst.

29th May, 1942.


Sir Frederick Cook.

(Copy to Mr TG Newcomen)

An inspection of the map of England will indicate that the natural port for the Potteries and the Black Country and the Birmingham area is the port of Liverpool.

The traffic census map shows that the traffic from the Potteries proceeds to Liverpool via A50 (TR 13) to Warrington, and then by A57. Although trunk road 14 connects Birmingham and the Black Country with the port of Liverpool the road is comparatively lightly trafficked between Wolverhampton and Chester, and it appears probable that a large amount of the traffic from the Midland industrial area proceeds by trunk road 13 to Warrington and then by A57. In this connection it should be borne in mind that between Birmingham and Liverpool the flow of traffic is of greater importance than the Birmingham, Mancester flow.

Two factors probably account for traffic taking this route and having to negotiate the built-up and congested are at Warrington. They are:

1 The first bridge over the River Mersey is situated at Warrington, and until recent years traffic undoubtedly preferred to use this route rather than either the ferries between Liverpool and Birkenhead or the transporter bridge between Widnes and Runcorn; 2 Road communications southeast of Chester across Cheshire were not attractive and were badly hindered by the narrow streets and congestion in Chester itself.

The construction of the Mersey Road Tunnel between Liverpool and Birkenhead has completely altered traffic conditions at Merseyside. There is now no hindrance to traffic crossing the river, and traffic wishing to proceed to the Potteries and the Black Country should receive every encouragement to use the tunnel and the road system in Cheshire. One great advantage of this would be that traffic from the Liverpool Docks would avoid going through the town (it could use the tunnel entrance on the dock road), and it would not be necessary to pass through Warrington.

Until road communications from Chester to the potteries and the Black Country re improved, road traffic will probably prefer to use the old route via Warrington, and so enter the port of Liverpool from the north.

This, I feel, is not sound, and every endeavor should be made to ensure that, in general, traffic from the south of the Mersey enters the port via the Wirral, and from the north and west via Liverpool itself.

I suggest, therefore, that a new road be constructed from the motorway proposal No. 1, referred to in my minute of the 29th May, 1942, in the vicinity of Alsager, and passing in a general northwesterly direction to bypass Nantwich on the north nd Tarporley and Tarvin on the south to make a connection with trunk road no 18 at the western end of the Northern Tarvin Bypass on that road. From this point, TR 18, the Chester Ring Road and TR 14 could, if necessary, be followed to Birkenhead.

If, however, motorways are accepted in principle, the road should be constructed as a motorway, and, instead of terminating at TR 18, it should be continued over the latter and proceed in a northwesterly direction to cross the Shotwick-Frosham road and A5555 near Whitby Heath, before turning west and then NNW to cross A550 south of Ledsham station. From this point it could follow the line of a suggested Town Planning road to Prenton, and so enter Birkenhead. Such a proposal would—

1 Avoid the necessity of widening A51 (TR 14) to the extent we originally contemplated. 2 Enable traffic to get closer into the centre of Birkenhead before entering the built-up rea. 3 In conjunction with an extension of the road through Upton and Bidston, provide a more suitable route for traffic to the Great Float and Wallasey Pool and Wallasey itself.

The foregoing route would provide a direct means of communication between the Potteries and the Port of Liverpool, and, in cojunction with the motorway proposal No 1 referred to above, would provide a through route for traffic from the Birmingham area to the port, which would be very little longer than that via Tr 14.

Generally speaking, while the north-to-south routes in the country are prospectively good, the east-to-west connetions are comparatively weak, and this applies particularly to the belt through Nottingham, Derby and Stoke.

The areas round the three towns in question are important industrially, but the road communication to the principal exporting port of the country, and the one which is probably most attractive to them is poor. The improvement of A51 from its junction with proposal No 1 of my minute of 29th May to Stone, together with the improvement of A516 from south of Stone to Derby, with a bypass to Uttoxeter, and the improvement of A52 between Derby and Nottingham would remedy this defect as well as providing a useful link between proposals 1 and 2 of my minute referred to above.

With regard to motorways, I would put the following matter forward for your consideration.

The present gauge limitations on the British railways are a source of trouble in conveying outsize loads. Large loads have sometimes to be moved over the weekends, due to the necessity of keeping adjoining railway tracks clear of traffic, etc. Sometimes the loads can only be taken by road, and then by roundabout routes.

The possibility of increasing the loading gauge of the railway to any material extent is all but impossible. The construction of system of motorways would not be hindered by any limitations as to clearances, and this would enable large loads to be moved from one part of the country to another witht eh minimum of trouble. A means of communication such as this during the present war would have been invaluable.


20th June 1942



(Through Mr Newcomen) (Copy to Major Aldington)

Trunk road no. 12 London Carlisle-Glasgow-Inverness

Ministerial approval to our future proposals for the above TR was not obtained prior to the war, mainly on account of the difficulty in deciding what was to be done on the length of road in Lancashire north of Preston, which was affected by the proposed north-south road through Lancashire and Cheshire.

Trunk Road No 12 connects London with the Est Midlands, North Wst England, Clydeside and Inverness, and, broadly speaking, falls into the following five main sections:

1 London-Derby. This length of road passes through a series of large and small towns. The question of evolving a satisfactory line for the future line of the road is difficult owing to the large number of bypasses involved and the attached 4 miles to 1 inch tracing shows the tentative future proposals suggested by DREs. The section between Luton and Leicester is not particularly heavily trafficked, and it is probable that most of the traffic shuttles between the towns situated on the route and is not long-distance through traffic. 2 Derby-Manchester and District. This section passes through difficult country, and it is improbable that we will be able to obtain a greater width than 45 ft on considerable lengths of the road. Heavy gradients exist, and commercial traffic does not use this road to any great extent, especially during the winter, when hevy snowfalls are encountered. 3 Manchester-Preston. This section passes through the industrial part of Lancashire, and a considerable amount of old ribbon development exists. It is doubtful if it will ever be possible to make a satisfactory job of this length of road. 4 Preston-Glasgow. It will be noted from the 10 miles to 1 inch map that whereas a number of roads converge on Preston from the south the only road proceeding north from it is the Trunk Road. From Preston to Kendal the road is heavily trafficked, but north of the latter the volume of traffic falls off considerably, although it forms the main road to Scotland. In DRE Scotland’s opinion TR 12 is the main road from England to Scotland. 5 Glasgow-Inverness. For the first few miles north of Glasgow, the road caters for an industrial area as well as forming the main outlet from Clydeside to the Loch Lomond district. North of Alexandria the road is of little comerrcial value.

In theory TR 12 is the main route between London, Lancashire and Glasgow, but from a practical point of view this is not so especially insofar as the London-Manchester trffic is concerned as this proceeds via TR 11 to the Brimingham district and then via TR 13 to Knutsford and Warrington where it disperses. Nor is it true for the Glasgow traffic as this proceeds either via 91) TR 11 from London to Birmingham, then by TR 13 to Preston, wher eit joins TR 12 for the remainder of the length to Glasgow or (2) TR 1 from London to Scotch Corner, TR 24 from Scotch Corner to Penrith and TR 12 from Penrith to Glasgow.

It is not possible to improve the whole of the road between London and Manchester to 120 ft or anything approaching it. Also owing to the difficult nature of the ground in Derbyshire, particularly from a point south of Buxton to Stockport the route will never be attractive for the long distance commercial traffic. It is therefore necessary to consider how best conditions can be improved.

The main commercial and industrial artery of the country is undoubtedly London (the main importing entre) the Midlands—Lancashire (Liverpool (the main exporting centre))—Scotland, and in my opinion it is essential that we make up our minds immediately what we are going to do with this route.

No matter what redistribution or reallocation of industry takes place after the war it is improbable tht this route will lose its prewar importance as an industrial route and consequently we can safely decide now without waiting for a general Government statement on postwar planning of what is to be done toimprove traffic facilities on this route.

In a minute to Sir Frederick Cook on the 29th May, 1942, an extract from which is attached, I made certain suggestions regarding our post war road system. You will not I suggested, inter alia, that a motorway from London to Lancashire and on to Scotland should be provided. Also that it should be sited on the NE side of TR 11 and a few miles distant from it and should skirt Coventry and Birmingham on their NE sides. N of Birmingham it could follow a path more or less parallel and close to TR 13. Through Cheshire and Lancashire the proposed N-S route on which the County Surveyors of Cheshire and Lancashire have carried out a certain amount of location work could be followed.

You will note I suggested that 9a) the route should be a motorway, and (b) that it should extend to a point near Glasgow.

Regarding (a) the term might be modified to a “single purpose” road, and (b) might be modified by terminating the new road at a point near Shap and thence following TR 12 with any necessary bypasses and diversions to Glasgow.

With these provisos my original suggestion still holds.

Such a route would form the backbone of our future road system and would cater for the main flow of long distance commercial and industrial road traffic. North of Preston it would also cater for a large volume of passenger traffic from Lancashire industrial area to the Lake District.

A desirable part of such a scheme would be a new single purpose road leaving the main proposal in the vicinity of Stoke and proceeding to Birkenhead so as to provide access to Liverpool via “Queensway.” Such a route would (a) provide access to our main exporting port, (b) provide a suitable route which at present does not exist from Liverpool to the Potteries (my minute dated 20th June, 1942, to Sir Frederick Cook regarding this matter is attached), (c) provide a suitable route to Birmingham and the Black Country from Liverpool.

A connection to Manchester could be provided if the proposed Toft-Wytheshawe Road was extended slightly to join the new road.

An inspection of a 10 miles to 1 inch map will show that with suitable connections the route could be used as a main means of communication for traffic from London to Leicester, Nottingham and Derby in addition to the places already mentioned.

Mr Bradforth has, following a conversation I had with him some time ago, suggested a line from London to Stafford and the proposal is apparently quite feasible. I suggest, therefore, if survey parties are available that the line should be fixed with greater accuracy with a view if possible to securing approval to the scheme as a post war work.

The approximate length of the roads is 275 miles and at £80,000 per mile the cost would be approximate to £22,000,000.

The proposal passes close to large centres of population and would consequently be suitable for the relief of unemployment. It would also lend itself to a construction in sections and with modern road making machinery the time of construction would not be long.

If you agree with the foregoing it would be advisable to inform the DREs affected accordingly and ask them to reconsider their proposals for TR 12 and also TR 11 between London and Birmingham so that they may make any modification they consider desirable in the alignment etc for the future line of the trunk road between London and Preston.

(sgd) CE Hollinghurst

8th March, 1943


The following papers deal with attempts to establish both a forward programme for motorway construction and a workable method for entering schemes in the programme according to a rational priority system, while remaining within (and using as much as possible of) Treasury appropriation.



Mr Dickinson

Future Motorway Programme

I have discussed with you on several occasions the order in which further sections of motorways should be constructed.

The original motorway pattern for this country provided for the following motorways.

(a) London to Yorkshire (b) Birmingham to Preston and Shap (c) Birmingham to Bristol with a cross connection to the London/Yorkshire motorway (d) Lancashire-Yorkshire with spurs southward to the Leeds-Barnsley and Sheffield areas and the London/Yorkshire motorway. (e) London to Newport in South Wales including the Severn Bridge (f) Links from the Birmingham/Preston Shap motorway, to the Birkenhead area and to the Manchester area.

Since the original programme was considered the Medway motorway and the Ross Spur have been added. We are now committed to the first section of the London/Yorkshire motorway with a spur to Dunchurch, the Birmingham/Preston/Shap motorway between Dunston and Preston, the first section of the Birmingham/Bristol motorway, the Ross Spur, the first section of the London/South Wales motorway between Chiswick and Maidenhead as far as Maidenhead Thicket, the Severn Bridge with its immediate approach roads and the Medway By-Pass.

The state of preparation of the outstanding proposals are as follows:

Sir Owen Williams has recommended a line to connect the Birmingham/Preston/Shap motorway with the London/Yorkshire motorway and also with the Birmingham/Bristol motorway.

Much of the preliminary location has been done by the Agent Authority for the second section of the Brimingham/Bristol motorway in Gloucestershire and a section of the South Wales motorway between the Birmingham/Bristol motorway at Amondsbury and Chippenham on A4. Various alternative lines have been examined by agent authorities for this central section of this motorway but no firm line has yet emerged.

The extension of the Birmingham/Preston/Shap Motorway to connect with the Lancaster by-Pass is almost at scheme stage and the extension northwards to the top of Shap has been surveyed by the Department itself and could quickly be brought to scheme stage.

The motor-road proposals on the west side of the country at the present moment terminate at the top of Shap although Penrith By-Pass a few miles northwards is being designed to motor-road standards.

Through traffic from Glasgow etc uses Trunk Road 12 as far as Penrith but to avoid the difficulties on Shap much of this traffic diverts on to Trunk Road 24, joining the Great North Road at Scotch Corner (Traffic northof Penrith in 1954 ws approximately 9000 pcus and south near Shap 5,500 pcus). If we are to obtain the full value of amotorway on the west side of the country it is essential that it should be extended from the top of Shap to Penrith by-pass.

I consider that the order in which various motorways should be brought to a completion is as follows.

1st stage. The first section of the link between the London/Yorkshire motorway and the Birmingham/Preston/Shap motorway as recommended by Sir Owen Williams, ie from Great Barr to A446 south of Coleshill. At the same time we should connect the Birmingham/Preston/Shap motorway with the Birmingham/Bristol motorway at Lydiate Ash south of Birmingham. Concurrently with these two works theintermediate section between preston and Lancaster should be put in hand. These three proposals are included in the programme which is about to be submitted to the Treasury.

2nd stage. Extend the Birmingham/Preston/Shap motorway to Penrith By-Pass, and the second section of the Birmingham/Briston motorway.

3rd stage. The link between Severn Bridge and the Bath Road near Chippenham and the remainder of the London/Yorkshire Motorway including a spur to Sheffield and Leeds.

The north-east traffic an be dealt with for themoment by the greatly improved Great North Road but until the last section of the London/Yorkshire motorway is completed, the industrial areas of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield and Leeds are rather out on a limb.

These works when completed will provide full motorway facilities between London and the North West as far as Penrith with the exception of a section of all-purpose road between the western end of Dunchurch BP and A446 south of Coleshill; between Birmingham and Bristol and Birmingham and South Wales via the Ross Spur between London and Doncaster and the industrial areas of the West Riding. The extension of the immediate approaches to the Seern Bridge as far as Chippenham and the completion of the works now in the programme at the eastern end of the south Wales Motorway will provide good facilities for traffic between London and South Wales.

The last stage should be the construction of a motorway between Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the central section of the London to South Wales Motorway, and finally the construction of a motorway between the western end of Dunchurch BP and a point south of Coleshill on A446.

For the moment links from the Birmingham/Preston/Shap motorway to Liverpool and Manchester are beign provided by improving the existing routes, and it is considered that further trffic studies are required before the need for Motorway links to deal with the above are finally established and similar studies are also required to establish the need for a link between the Birmingham/Bristol Motorwya and the London/Yorkshire Motorway.

I am attaching to this file copies of papers which were prepare din 1942 and 1943 by the present DRE/Metropolitan and these papers form the bsis of the motorway system.


[This paper was prepared by Mr Jeffery though it is unsigned]

• Comments—P Beazley wants all future discussions on the program to make specific mention of costs, so that the priority system has sense.

• BPH Dickinson, HS division, says (21/7/1958) that it is also necessary to make a statement of some sort (to address BRF propaganda inter alia) about urban motorways and how they are to be factored into the network.

• New draft, prepared by Jeffery incorporating Beazley’s suggestions about specific cost.

• Memo prepared by JS Parker, 24/7/1958, listing specific schemes for construction in the financial years from 1961-2 to 1965-6 (sent to Mr Banister). Makes reference to a Master Plan integrating the results of the trunk road traffic appreciations (“Master Plan appreciations”)—the MOT contact person for this was evidently Mr Barnard (HGP division?).


Mr Banister

(prepared by E Bannon [?])

Future motorway programme

I refer to Mr Jeffery’s memorandum on this subject and have the following comments. As I mentioned to you my views are by no means firm and I hope we shall have the opportunity of a detailed discussion with HE and HS. Indeed it may be desirable in view of the complexity of the subject to make arrangements for a periodical joint working part (HGP, HE and HS) to keep the whole subject under review. I fully accept HGP’s primary responsibility but there may be some merit in formalizing our contacts with other Divisions.

I have 3 general points:

(a) The sums of money involved in the motorway programme are so considerable that we should seriously consider whether we are justified henceforth in making recommendations by rule of thumb. I suspect that we may need to expand our traffic engineering structure very considerably before a realistic priority list can be produced. (b) While a programme for rural motorways has obvious advantages it cannot stand on its own. We need to produce a comparable priority scheme for Urban Motorways and if necessary dovetail the two programmes together. (c) We should also take account of certain AP roads such as the D ring road which although of trunk road status have as their primary function the task of feeding the motorway system. It may be desirable at some point to devote funds to all purpose feeder roads of this kind rather than to the construction of new motorways.

With these reservations I have discussed with mr Bidgood the priority which we should give to the various motorway projects referred to in these papers. What bothers us most is the apparent absenc of an underlying philosophy and I think we should supply one. We are considering the position which will arise after the first group of motorways (PBP, LB, Ross Spur, Birmingham-Bristol first part) have been completed. Thereafter I think we should operateon an alternating basis. We should devote the next phase to providing links between the motorways we have already constructed. In the following phase it would be better for technical, economical and political reasons to move right away from what we have alreaydbuilt and lay down a new part of the frmework. In the succeeding phase we can revert to the linking process and so on until the ultimate programme is complete.

Clearly it is not possible to translate these principles into a programme without difficulty but I suggest that we set out our programme in 4 phases. I doubt if it is necessary at this stage to trim our programme as Mr Parker has done to cover particular years. Provided we achieve a priority list that should suffice.

Phrase 1 – a linking phase—should contain a link between the LYM and the BPM. This IMO should be a motorway link and not merely an improvement of existing roads. Present estimates are £10,000,000 from Great Barr to A446 and £6,000,000 from A446 to the Dunchurch Spur. The second item in Phase 1 is the link between the Birmingham/Bristol and BPM now being surveyed by Sir Owen Williams and estimated to cost £7.5m. The 3rd item in phase 1 is a link costing £4m between the PBP and the Lancaster BP.

Phase 2 departs from the area already covered by Motorways already constructed and contains two items. First comes the Severn Bridge connection to Chippenham costing £6m. Secondly, at a cost of £29m should come the Lancashire to Yorkshire Motorway.

Phase 3—a linking phase should see the construction of the second half of the BBM at a cost of £11.5m and the central section of the South Wales Radial t a cost of £15.5m. It is particularly to be hoped that during this phase sums could be devoted to the improvement of the D Ring road which although all purpose would link the South Wales Radial to the LYM and other roads linking London to the Midlands and the North.

This leaves for Phase 4 the Exeter Radial (not yet costed) the second half of the LYM (£41m) and the extension of the BPM to Penrith (£10m).

I am not happy about any of these proposals:

1 The Exeter radial is intended as the main link between London and the SW. A motorway is contemplated as far as Basingstoke and beyond that existing road to Exter would be improved. Further in the SW at a later date a BEM is contemplated. I have some doubt as to whether this pattern is satisfactory. I would like to see examined the proposal that traffic for the SW should be encouraged to use the S Wales radial as far as Chippenham or thereabouts and that a spur be built from Chippenham in the general direction of Taunton. An additional link between Chippenham and the BBM would attract Midlands and Northern trffic on to such a spur. Naturally I have not yet perused this in detail but I think we should do so particularly in view of the mounting pressure to do something for communications in the W of England. 2 I suspet that the LYM between Crick and Doncaster, although it will clearly serve Licester, Derby, and Nottingham, will to some extent duplicate the improved A1. I should have thought that a better proposal would be to construct a Motorway from the Leeds area passing to the west of Sheffield, Derby and Burton and finishing at least in its first phase between Coventry and Birmingham where it could link with theproposed connection between the LYM and BPM. A motorway on this alignment could later be extended due S via Oxford and Newbury (where it would link with the South Wales Radial) to Southampton. I have a feeling that this kind of motorway ie a national spine road, may be necessary if as appears likely, Southampton is developed as a major port for the ECM. 3 I would need to see some evidence, in view of our other needs that the extension of the BPM to Penrith is necessary in the foreseeable future.

[signed] 11/8/1958

• Another programme document, containing schemes under construction, under preparation, etc. with mileages and estimated costs. Rural costs appear to be based on £250,000/mi (Ross Spur, apparently cheapest per mile) while urban (Chiswick flyover to Slough BP) is £1 million/mile.

• Copy of a memorandum dealing with present state of preparation/construction on the “motorway pattern considered by the WP set up by Mr Lennox Boyd in December 1953.” Roads in development plans which have been proposed as motorways are considered in a separate memo. Roads covered include LYM, BPSM, BBM, LYM-BPSM cross link, LYM-BBM cross link, LYM, LSWM, etc. “Conclusions” are of interest: BPSM shouldn’t be terminated at Shap—should be extended to Penrith to trap traffic. Use consulting engineers exclusively on larger schemes, and have MinT advise CCA accordingly. When schemes finished, 1st class communications will exist between (list of regions). 5/9/1958.

• More minutes. JL Paisley on Banister’s memo, 13/8/1958, dissenting from para 5 as basis for determining priority. Thinks that priorities should be based on combined system of TRs and Ms, not Ms alone. WF Adams of Traffic Engineering Branch (TEB) suggests a purely traffic-based priority system, which would give links priority in due course as traffic remodelled onto the motorways.



The future

[In this memorandum the “road programme” means new construction and major improvements]

Maintaining the Momentum

1 The road programme is a continuous process, not a serious of periodic allotments of money. For working purposes, however, it can be considered as following into the following phases: Years 1 to 4 (at present 1958/59 to 1961/62), for which the programme is settled in some detail subject to the annual Estimates review with the Treasury and on which the Department is engaged in getting constructional work done as planned. Year 5 (1962/63), for which the trunk road schemes, including motorways, have been selected and are now being brought to contract letting stage. Treasury approval is required for this and was obtained last summer for 1962/63. It will be sought each summer for a further year. Later Years, for which preparation is undertaken of the main orders establishing the lines of the principal schemes, as they are selected. This can be done without Treasury authority. 2 Preparation so far in advance is a relatively new feature of the road programme and the situation will not be considered fully satisfactory until there are large numbers of important schemes prepared and ready, so that a rapid expansion of road works would be possible if economic conditions permit and so that there are ample reserves if major schemes in the programme run into difficulties. 3 We are asked to prepare a forward programme on which annual expenditure will average about £60m taking one year with another. To be prepared against a possible increase in this figure and to create an dequate reserve of schemes, trunk road and motorway schemes in preparation for year 5 are themselves worth £60m. Major schemes in the outline programme for later years reach a total value of some £230m. When the time comes to draw up the programme for any one financial year, account has to be taken of the desirability of finding about £3m for smaller trunk road works and a suitable allocation for classified roads. 4 The classified road share of the programme over about the next decade is taken for planning purposes as 1/3 of the programme. With present financial limits this means tht thee will be little room for really major urban projects; but to give more to classified roads would delay urgently needed motorway and trunk road works. Classified road planning into the future mustbe rather tentative: the impetus must come from the highway authorities. On the other hand, the classified road programme is, because of its different statutory background, capable of quicker expansion than the trunk road programme and, consequence, detailed planning far in advance is not so essential. A steady £20m annual allocation would enable many desirable projets, which so far hve been held up for lack of funds, to go ahead.

Forward programme

5 Information collected from the Trunk Road Master Plan is proving valuable for forward planning. In general, road improvements in the future programme are designed to fit each road to the “ultimate” traffic foreseen for it, the principal aim being free flow of traffic over as long a stretch as possible. 6 An outline programme sorted into years to fit an approximate £60m ceiling is submitted in the attched schedule and map, which shows the main routes which it is proposed should be tackled during the period (though not all of them can be completed in the time if the financial limitations of £60m are adhered to). 7 In considering this programme it must be remembered that the first four years (1958-62) of the Minister’s programme involve commitment of £240m of Government expenditure on works. Land and preparation is additional to this, but must be counted against the annual expenditure for estimates. In working out the programme for 1962/63 onwards, we have assumed that Treasury would wish land and preparation to be included in the calculations. Thus the commitment rate for works only from 1962/63 would run at a lower rate (£57.8m) than the average of the first four years (£60m). This is unsatisfactory and should be pointed out to the Treasury. To bring the works commitment rate up to the average of the first four years would mean an average annual expenditure from 1962/63 of £62m. 8 These studies have all been made on the basis that motorway construction will proceed at the same rate as in the London-Birmingham case. If for any reason all major motorway work were to slow down, the spread of payments would much simplify the situation; but it seems only prudent in this exercise to assume the quicker and (from the payments point of view) more difficult rate. Against this background, it is strongly borne out that a £60m expenditure ceiling has unsatisfactory effects on the programme: a. 1961/62 looks like reaching £66m unless start of work on the Medwy Motor Road and perhaps also on the road works of the first stage of the South Wales Radial is postponed till 1962/63. These projects mustbe committed in 1961/62 to maintain the £240m four-year commitment figure. Postponement of these works would upset their present timing to coincide with the Dartford-Purfleet tunnel nd the development of London Airport. (It should be noted that though 1961/62 is estimated in the schedule as £66m the average expenditure from 1961-69 works out as £60.575m.) b. On pratical grounds it would be best to construct the LYM between Crick and the Doncaster BP in one operation, but even if this scheme is split into two parts for commitment in consecutive years, payments in 1967/68 reach £66m. c. A ceiling of £60m produfes a very lean period for ordinary trunk road schemes from 1961-64. This means that several desirable projects will be delayed beyond their ideal target dates—for example: i. The Newport second town bridge and connections cannot be ready by the time the Ross Spur and associated improvements bring more traffic to the area. ii. Postponements till after 1962/62 will include the main cross links to the BPM from Manchester and the Welsh border, the provision of dual carrigeways on A2 (other than the Medway stretch), Swanley BP on A20 and several urgently needed schemes on A12 (London-Ipswich) for which ther eis already political pressure. d. While a steady £20m a year for classified roads would be considerably better than the fluctuating grants of the first ofur years, this amount ofmoney would, as already said, give little room for really big urban projects, such as may well be necessary to distribute the additional traffic which motorways and improved trunk roads will feed into the large centres of population. Increasing traffic and to some extent the work of the various roads committees for the conurbations are likely tobuild up growing pressure, which could only be met by considerably greater expenditure. 9 If after 1960-61 the ceiling for the road programme could be raised to £80m taking one year with another, a much better programme could be built up, which would get rid of most of the difficulties set out in the preceding paragraph, although the clssified roads figures could no doubt with advantage go higher than the £25m which would, in round figures, represent their share of an expanded programme of this nature. The schedule at 1.B gives the picture of what such a programme might look like. Though expenditure in one year rises as high as £85.4m, the average from 1961-69 is £77.7m.


I The main schemes set out in the schedule at 1.a and map should be adopted as the frmework of the future road programme and orders establishing their line should be made s soon as practicable.

II Discussions should take place with the Treasury on thebasis of the progrmme in the schedule. The objective should be to persuade the Treasury to accept an expenditure rate averaging £80m rather than £60m from 1961/62; failing that, the treasury should be pressed at the least to agree to an average annual commitment rate of £60m for works with the consequential increase in the expenditure figure set out in the schedule.

III Subject to the outcome of the above, the Minister might consider announcing that in the next phase of the road programme priority will be given to (a) extensions of the motorway system from Lancashire to ‘cumberland; from Worcesrershire to Bristol; from Northamptonshire to the Wst Riding; (b) improved roads from London to Ipswich and beyond; from London to Southampton; from Bristol to Exeter and beyond; in Glamorgan; from Derby to Sheffield and Doncaster to Hull.

Highways General Planning Division

December 1958


• Memo from Banister, evidently preparer of the foregoing, to Lintern about the basis for preparing the program. Quotes of interest: “The order in which th emotorays appear in the schedule has been agreed with HE as being the order which will benefit traffic quickest,” but provision can be made for sliding in a suddenly urgently needed link project up in the programme (by scheduling it and then postponing less important works of equivalent value in succeeding years). “In developing arguments for a larger road programme I have not felt able to make use of statistics. I know that many figures are quoted (eg, 8 per cent annual increase in vehicles, the fact that 25% of traffic uses 1% of the roads, etc) but I cannot find anyof these of much value. I prefer to work from the premise that the main roads of the country are grossly inadequate and that £60m a year mens that we have to go slower than we need in our attempts to put them right.”

• More memoranda—not worth noting specifically.

• List of motorway projects proposed for 1964-65 to 1969-70 (14 projects, drawn up 3/7/1959), together with a memorandum showing the priority of each project (shown as a design volume in PCUs per day estimated from available O/D work or estimates). The projects are numbered and the numbering corresponds with the number for that project appearing in one of the four priority categories (coded blue for > 40,000 PCU/day, red for 30k-40k PCU/day, green for 20k-30k PCU/day, and yellow for 10k-20k PCU/day).

• List of schemes, not confined to motorways.

• Correspondence with DREs asking how far along various schemes are.

• More memoranda, not excavating serious questions of principle, and a sort of letting schedule which looks vaguely similar to the historical contract sequencing.

MT 39/554

Covering dates 1944-49, closure date 2000, deals with preliminary engineering for the BBM through Gloucestershire. Again, it is a second-order file, containing material which is of interest largely for its narrative of how a corridor developed. Some items are of interest, however, because they give an indication of how the roads were actually planned and constructed:

• Correspondence and memoranda dealing with staffing and equipment requirements for surveying and laying out the line of the proposed motor road. This material covers the equipments required for the surveying parties and the salary scales for the various engineers required to work on the project.

• Correspondence between Glos CS and Ministry about motor road estimates—former started with a lowball of £29k/mile and jacked it up to slightly over £50k/mile when the Ministry expressed surprise at the low values and asked for earthworks to be calculated to different assumptions and for a greater degree of conservatism in accounting for contingencies, etc. Worker housing and its inclusion in per-mile estimates was one issue under discussion.

• First mention of an interchange at Almondsbury, when it becomes evident the CC wants to build a sort of bypass around a congested junction at Almondsbury and wants to know whether it can combine it with the m’way junction so as to avoid providing two expensive roundabouts in a small space. The Almondsbury interchange was planned at that time as a three-level roundabout interchange.

• Long discussions about aerial surveys. Glos CS wanted aerial surveys prepared with proposed line in 500’ corridor, and obtained quotes to the effect that this could be done for £25/mile. MOT civil servants didn’t like the idea—thought the corridor should be at least 1 mi deep, especially if curves were to be programmed into the alignment along lines of the “idea suggested by Major Aldington.” Idea was to get aerial photographs which could be used to lay out the line of the road stereoscopically. Much fuss about scheduling because almost half of the year has light too oblique to allow detail to be seen—after October aerial photos are no good. Quotes were taken from Hunter Aerosurveys Ltd., but MOT finance dept insisted on keeping aerial survey work within the govt unless it was absolutely impossible to procure the required accuracy (MOT wanted +/- 2 ft accuracy on 5 ft contours prepared from the aerial photographs). Hunter aerosurveys bid had to be rejected even though it was not clear the Ordnance Survey could produce the required 2 ft accuracy with an experimental camera (which was in repairs for 3 weeks at one point, and at one point a chap with a military title, who may have been seconded to OS as war work while in the Army, said flatly that nothing like 2 ft accuracy could be obtained. This was glossed over by his MOT civil servant contact, however, who seems to have been keen not to close off room for maneuvering while finding the best tradeoff among accuracy, price, and procurement requirements). At one point there was much controversy about 1/2500 maps indicating where the surveys were to be taken, which MOT wanted from Glos CS but didn’t get because he was off sick. Another issue: apparently much cheaper to get contoured photographs not rectified to OS standards than to get them rectified, which involves specialized work.

• Discussion, toward end of file, about the siting of interchanges. There is a 2 pp memo at the end of the file which discusses at which crossings interchanges should be provided, and in general what type they should be.

• Discussion regarding choice of control points for the alignment, and what to do if one of the control points (in this case a bridge crossing) was objected to by an adjacent landowner who wanted a view preserved even if this meant putting the road on viaduct over a floodplain for about 220 yards at an estimated £5000-£10,000 cost.

• Negotiations for soil borings--£426 paid, apparently for a river crossing in connection with the landowner’s objection mentioned in last para.

• Huge problems caused by the Air Ministry’s indecision WRT an airfield at Moreton Vallance which sat right on top of the proposed line. Ministry wanted to tear down airfield and build the motorway through it if it was to be declared surplus to requirements. At one point an internal AM review committee recommended closure of the airfield, but this conclusion was not carried forward, and plans had to be drawn for the diversion, taking into account the clearances required for flight. This involved siting the road 1500 ft from the runway end and considering putting it in cutting past the airfield in order to maintain clearance. Much, much correspondence about this particular issue.

• Many, many maps!