MT 39/241

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CLASSIFICATION: Numbering system

Date range1921-1949
LocationNational Archives (see all files stored here)
CatalogueSee entry
File baseSeries MT, subseries MT 39

Context

Road numbering was a new and exciting subject in the early 1920s which required a great deal of discussion and preparation, and this file contains the majority of what went on at the Ministry of Transport as they set about creating a classification scheme.

Plans and diagrams from this file are now located at MFQ 1/708.

This file is quite lengthy and contains numerous correspondences between the MOT and various local authorities, most notably the Scottish MOT.

Contents of note

  • Correspondence with M. Michelin, circa 1921, relating to his proposals for a road numbering system in the UK. He suggested zones, each lettered, within which major roads would get a capital prefix and minor roads would get a lower-case suffix (eg. F52 and 52f).
  • One of the very few numbering errors was the B1217, originally numbered B6379 despite starting on the A1 and heading east.
  • Notes from local authorities and road engineers about perceived errors in the MOT's proposed list. The archives give the impression that, contrary to the opinion one might get when reading road histories on SABRE, that local engineers actually berated the MOT for their naivety and incompetence in choosing certain routes (eg: A1 via Northallerton instead of Scotch Corner, A47 via Downham Market instead of King's Lynn).
  • Draft lists of all A roads in zones 3 and 4 with noticeable changes to the finished list, and correspondence from regional road engineers to the MOT advising of changes to draft routes (eg: A43 to terminate on A423 north of Oxford, A373 to go from Tiverton to Cullompton via Halberton and Willand)
  • Various letters to and from the MOT talking about the publication of the 1922/23 road list, and the postponing and subsequent cancellation of a 1925 or 1926 list. Along the way it reveals that in June 1925 the original list had already been revised three times (presumably on 1st April 1924 and 1925, and the events of MT 39/245). Most letters in the file from about 1938 onwards are from the would-be sabristi of the day asking the MOT for a list of classified roads and getting shrugged shoulders.

Related files

MFQ 1/708 17 items extracted from MT 39/241. Drawn by the Ministry of Transport to illustrate the new numbering of A-class roads (1921-1923)
MT 38/18 Classification of roads and numbering (1913)
Memorandum on Route Numbering

People with camera copies

Chris Marshall has a partial copy, including all diagrams and selected correspondence.
Ritchie Swann has camera copies of the original list of multiplexes in 1922 from this file, the draft zone 3 and 4 A road lists, and proposed signs for the A50 / A38 multiplex in Burton-upon-Trent.