National Archives 2003-03-13

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Preordered MT 121/32, MT 121/22, and MT 95/652. MT 121 series files concern largely the PBP. 32 is the file dealing with lighting issues, including the real story behind Watkinson’s order that the lights be removed from Samlesbury junction. 22 is the file dealing with the opening ceremony. Will attempt verbatim retyping of selected 32 material.

MT 121/32

A great deal of this is “agreeing the line” paperwork on lighting the junction for the A59 trunk road at Samlesbury. This junction was apparently of the dumbbell type, and the lighting options ranged from lighting only the roundabouts forming the dumbbell (as “obstruction” lighting, normally paid for by the Minister on a 100% basis if the obstruction is due to the construction of a trunk road), lighting both roundabouts plus the portion of A59 between them which crosses the motorway mainline, lighting the stretch of motorway around the junction so as to create a gradual lead-in to full lighting plus the A59 over the motorway, and lighting the entire motorway mainline. The choice among the different options was constrained by (1) the cost, (2) whether the local authority would have to contribute and the relationship the LA contribution bore to the benefits the LA got on the roads it maintained (the Ministry in general did not think it was likely Lancs CC would be happy about contributing 50% of the cost of lighting on the A59 between the roundabouts because this would be classifiable as discretionary lighting for an ordinary trunk road fundable by the local authority with a cooperative grant from the MOT, rather than full 100% MOT funding as for obstruction lighting; reason Lancs CC wouldn’t have been happy is that no part of the Lancs CC urbanized area gets any benefit from the lighting provided on this intermediate portion of A59), and (3) the extent to which lighting provided at Preston could form a precedent for motorways elsewhere and thus inhibit clean-sheet experimenting, e.g. by causing other motorways to be designed with unnecessarily narrow central reservations in order to facilitate subsequent installation of lighting columns in the central reservation.

It is worth reproducing some of the correspondence and memoranda, though.

21st January, 1959

Thank you for your letter of 16th December about the removal of the lighting standards on the PBP.

As you know, this is the first motorway to be opened in this country and will be the “guinea-pig” from which much will be learned for application to the major motorway schemes of the future. When the plans of the road were being drawn up, carful thought was given to the lighting of the junction with trunk road A59, which was a flyover junction of a type not hitherto built in this country. At that stage, based on our limited experience, it was thought desirable on safety grounds for a comprehensive lighting system to be provided. It was considered then, in the light of our experience on major trunk roads, that isolated patches of lighting only at the roundabouts which form junctions between trunk and other roads would tend to be confusing to drivers and potentially dangerous, and for this reason the slip roads to the motorway and the lengths of road between the two roundabouts at Samlesbury were included in the lighting plan, as also was that part of the motorway over the junction.

However, further consideration of the nature of the traffic on motorways, with pedestrians, cyclists and other slow-moving traffic excluded, led us to question whether any large-scale lighting was necessary, and after a visit to the site I decided to confine the lighting to the two roundabouts on A59 and the short length of trunk road connecting them. The standards on the BP itself and the slip roads were therefore removed and are not being replaced by others as you suggest.

I shall watch most carefully the results of the experimental lighting on the pBP, with the help of the police and authorities. Furthermore, we are working with the Road Research Laboratory on investigating the needsfor lighting on motorways with a view to framing a general policy.

I can assure you that the lamp standards which have been taken down will not be wasted: some will be used for the roundabouts on the Lancaster By-Pass now under construction and the remainder will be stored until there is a similar requirement for them.

Harold Watkinson

[sent to] JA Leavey, Esq, MP

[end quote]

31 December, 1958

As promised in my Secretary’s letter of 3rd December, I now reply to your of 20th November enclosing a cutting from the Daily Telegraph sent to you by one of your constituents about the removal of the lighting standards on the PBP.

The circumstances in which these lamp standards were erected and later dismantled are rather different from the suggestions in the second paragraph of your letter. The junction concerned at Samlesbury is an intersection between a new motorway and an existing trunk road for both of which we are the responsible highway authority. A lighting installation such as that initially erected at Samlesbury junction would also be regarded as lighting provided solely for the needs of vehicular traffic, and not as street lighting for which there is a local requirement and from which there is some local benefit. Its cost falls accordingly on us as highway authority. The local authorities do not come into this picture at all and we must be careful always to make this clear.

[Next paragraph is more or less word-for-word identical to the paragraph in previous extract about the PBP being the first “guinea-pig.”]

However, further consideration of the nature of the traffic on motorways, with pedestrians, cyclists and other slow-moving traffic excluded, led us to question whether any large-scale lighting was necessary, and after a visit to the site Harold Watkinson himself decided to confine the lighting to the two roundabouts on A59 and the short length of trunk road connecting them. The other standards were therefore removed.

[Next two paragraphs are word for word identical to the paras in Watkinson letter about RRL collaboration, and not wasting the lamp standards.]

You will have seen the answer on this matter which HW gave in the house on 10th December in reply to a question (I attach an extract from Hansard), and I hope that this letter will give you the further background you may need.


GRH Nugent

Hansard Weds 10 December 1958—question no. 112 from Janner to HW, about lighting on the PBP. Find this in an actual copy of Hansard back in Ox. 100 lamp standards involved in this controversy, cost of erection and removal about £5,800.

[begin quote]

20th Feb 1958

PBP Proposed lighting of the junction with A59 at Samlesbury

We have now received Treasury approval to expenditure on the PBP to a revised estimate of £3.7 million, i.e., £3,260,664 advised in our minute of 2nd May, 1957, plus the estimated increased cost contained in your minute of 23rd September, 1957, although a commitment has not yet been made. Would you please let us know as soon as possible whether the estimated cost of £18,553 for this lighting scheme is included in the figure of £3.7m or is an addition to the overall estimate.

[signed] Miss MI Kinlen

[begin quote]

PBP—Junction Lighting

With reference to my minute of the 5th October 1956, I have now had a verbal assurance that lighting is to be provided at the junction of the PBP with Trunk Road A59 at Samlesbury and I have therefore arranged for ducts to be laid on those sections of this junction where construction has progressed far enough for the carriageway foundations to be commenced. I should be pleased to have your confirmation that this is in order.

On the subject of lighting I understand that discussions are proceeding in connection with a suggestion that new motorways should be lit throughout their length. It may be that there is no great likelihood of such a proposal materialising, but a decision on this matter would have considerable bearing on planning decisions which we shall have to give regarding the crossing of the motorway by high tension power cables. You may know that the Central Electricity Authority have a proposal for a 275 kV line which will cross the North-South Motorway at two places in Lancashire and one in Westmorland. I understand that the statutory minimum clearance required is some 23 to 25 feet and that it is customary to allow an additional 5 to 10 feet above a roadway. It might be desirable to ask for something considerably above the minimum if Group A lighting is seriously contemplated throughout the whole of the Motorway.

The question of the proposed 275 kV line is being dealt with on your file HT 33/2/016.

[signed for] DRE/NW 8th March 1957 [to HE Division]


Lighting on motorways

My hasty researches into practice abroad have unearthed the following information:

Lighting of Junctions

There does not appear to be any lighting on toll-roads in the USA, but no information was available about urban expressways.

On German autobahnen there may be lighting at one or two junctions near big cities such as Cologne, but the practice is certainly not widespread.

I have no information as to Italian autostrade.

Continuous lighting

In a paper presented at the International Study Week in Traffic Engineering at Stresa (Oct. 1956) it was stated that an Italian committee had found that lighting good enough to avoid the use of dazzling headlamps could be provided at a cost of 2% of the total cost of a motorway. Even this modest sum might be wholly or partially recouped by the reduction in width of the centre strip which it would allow.

At the same conference, M Buffevent presented a paper on the effect of lighting on the Autoroute de l’Ouest, near Paris. As this is the only case of motorway lighting on which we have information, it is worth going into some detail.

The Autoroute is an expressway in the form of a Y. The stem of the Y or “common trunk” emerges from Paris and passes between Versailles and St. Germain. It is six miles long and has twin three-lane carriageways. The arms are seven and six miles long, leading to existing radial roads out in the country; they have twin two-lane carriageways.

26% of the traffic is at night; before lighting 53.5% of the accidents were at night. The median strip is narrow (8’ on the “common trunk”) and bare. The eastern section of the common trunk carries the haviest traffic; in 1954 the daily average ws 28.242 vehicles; the park hour 5,173 vehicles. The average nightly traffic was about 7100 vehicles. In the first year after the installation of lighting night accidents were 27% fewer than the previous year, despite a 13% increase of traffic which brought a 20% increase of night accidents on the rest of the autoroute.

The western section of the common trunk carries about 2/3 as much traffic. The night accidents in the first year of lighting were 12% less than before, while on the northern branch and the estern section of the trunk they were 17% more.

The hour of greatest congestion occurs in the evening; the worst time for accidents is 6 PM-9 PM. Since the introduction of lighting this accident peak has been reduced, especially 8 PM-9 PM. The incidence of chain accidents has been reduced to a quarter of what it was.

The lighting which has so improved safety on the autoroute cost about £10,400 a mile to install and about £800 a mile to use for a year. The standards are 50 m apart on the centre strip each supporting 2 250 W mercury vapor lamps, 13 m above the carriagewys. The height of the lamps avoids dazzle and gives unusually even lighting.

EH Whitaker



Trunk Roads and Motorways Branch, HE staff, 21-37 Hereford Road, W2

PBP Junction Lighting

Thank you for your minute of the 22nd October 1956 in which you agree that lighting should be provided at the A59 junction in this particular case. This will enable me to tell the County Surveyor to make provision for the ducts.

The decision to include the whole of this junction as a lighted area raises the question of costs, particularly because the slip roads and A59 are ordinary trunk roads and not motorways. As far as I know we have no powers to provide street lighting other than the powers contained in Section 6(4) of the Trunk Roads Act 1936. I have always assumed that although normally we only enter into agreements to pay 50% of the cost of street lighting, there is nothing in this Section to prevent us from entering into an agreement to pay 100% and in the case of the junction of the slip roads with the motorway this would seem to be quite right since the lighting would be purely for the benefit of the motorway and would have no local value. If, however, we extend this and agree to pay 100% on the ordinary trunk roads we might be establishing a precedent and this would apply particularly if we light the section of A59 between the two roundabouts.

This is a point which I think must be settled but in the meantime we will proceed with the laying of the ducts. As regards cost, a rough estimate for this particular junction is £17,000 including all the ducts required. If, however, traffic signs are to be provided on the motorway and lighted, ducts and cables for this would be necessary in any case, and the additional cost of the street lighting would only be about £10,000.


Haynes DRE/NW

Manchester 31st October 1956


Motorway Lighting

1 The question of the extent and type of lighting to be used on motorways may be conveniently subdivided as follows: a. Lighting at junctions b. Lighting of service areas c. Continuous lighting of carriageways d. The cost and value of lighting; and e. The method of provision and authority for lighting schemes 2 In his minute, HT 7/041 of the 21st November, Mr Newman asked Mr. Jeffery for a note on lighting proposals and suggested that a paper ought to be prepared examining the pros and cons of possible solutions to the lighting problem. I assume that HE already have a considerable amount of information on verseas practice and, while the following comments may have some bearing on technical assessment of lighting requirements, they cannot be more than a layman’s appreciation of a problem which in its technical aspects must be covered by HE. 3 I would have thought that the type and extent of lighting to be installed on motorways must necessarily be decided as an integral part of the design of the motorway as a whole since, IMV, it will have a bearing on the design of junctions, slip roads, layout and width of central reservations etc. I am therefore somewhat a loss to comprehend how the question of junction lighting on the PBP is to be considered now about six months after the construction of the BP began. I had assumed, wrongly it seems, that we are already committed to some lighting or lack of lighting on the PBP but without prejudice to the adoption of different criteria on the LBM and other motorways still in the design stage 4 Junction Lighting. Where ther eis to be a roundabout on a connecting rod above or below a motorway it seems fairly obvious that the roundabout will have to have the normal obstruction lighting. The motorway will be connected to existing roads with slip roads which have presumably been designed so that vehicles leaving the motorway can do so at relatively high speeds without much maneuvering to extricate themselves from the through traffic. In order to achieve this it appears necessary to have advance warning signs of junctions, and instructions for traffic leaving the motorway to take up the nearside lane etc; such advice will have to be directed at drivers some distance before they reach the junction. I presume that advance signs will have to be erected, say, two miles from the junction with repeater signs or additional instructions closer in. ssuming, as I hope will be the case, that these signs and lane markings will be in Scotchlite or similar reflecting material, the actual negotiation of junctions at the motorway leel should be relatively simple. There should be little risk of dazzle at junctions so far as the motorway and slip roads are concerned (over and above the dazzle inevitable on the rest of the motorway if it is left unlit) and at this stage the only advantage I can see in lighting the junctions is that the lights would landmark the junction to oncoming vehicles. Dr. Gillbe may very well have a very short answer to my views but I entirely agree with him (see minute 7 on HT 212/20/016) that isolated patches of essential lighting at roundabouts and junctions separated by lengths of unlighted road would tend to be confusing and possibly dangerous. If junctions are to be lit I think it would have to be done by a graduated system of lighting starting some way back from the junction reaching maximum intensity t the junction itself so that transition from unlit to lit sections would be as gradual as possible. If this was done advanced warning signs etc could be illuminated but this rather begs the question of what is going to be done about signs elsewhere on the road. 5 Lighting of service areas It seems to me obvious that the service areas themselves will have to be lit quite apart from the lighting of petrol station premises etc. and that the movement of vehicles from the carriageway into a service area will be somewhat similar to, even if easier than, junction movements. Thus if there is a case for lighting slip roads at junctions there is also a case for lighting deceleration lanes into service areas even if it is only by something akin to the perimeter track lighting on airfields. 6 Continuous lighting of carriageways Neither Mr. Whitaker nor I have yet been able to find much information about overseas practice but I assume that HE already have a great deal of information which they could summarize and present more ably than I can. It seems, however, that the tresa Study Week in October included an Italian report that lighting, good enough to avoid the use of dazzling headlamps, could be provided for about 2 per cent of the total cost of a motorway and that even this cost might be wholly or partially recouped by a reduction in the width of central reservations. I hve myself seen the lighting on the Autoroute de l’Ouest and read Mr. Buffevent’s papers on the subject. The French have apparently found that 26% of the traffic on the Autoroute is at night and that, before part of the road was lit, 53% of the accidents were at night. In the first year after the installation of lighting night accidents were 27% down on the previous year despite a 13% increase in traffic which brought a 20% increase in the accidents on the unlit portion of the Autoroute. These figures seem significant but they need to be related as far as our motorways are concerned to potential traffic volumes, potential night accidents, and the probable decrease (both as a percentage and numerically) which might be achieved by the provision of ligting. [para break] The advantages of lighting the motorways seem to be as follows: a. A probable reduction in night accidents or in the severity of accidents if French experience is anything to go on. b. The elimination of dazzle from following vehicles whose lights penetrate rear windows or are reflected from rear view mirrors (no amount of anti-dazzle planting on the central reservation will get rid of this particular type of dazzle). c. The eleimination of, or reduction in the need to have anti-dazzle planting on the central reservation thus providing a saving in the cost of planting and of maintenance. d. A possible reduction in the width of the central reservation with a corresponding sving in land acquisition costs and maintenance costs. (Thre may be some reason for having a 15 ft reservation instead of, say, 10 ft. but what it is I do not know.) e. The comfort and convenience of road users being able to drive with side lights in safety. 6a The disadvantages seem to be: a. The additional cost of motorway construction and maintenance. This, however, may be partially or wholly offset by savings on provision and maintenance of central reserves, anti-dazzle planting and in the economicf benefit of a reduction in accidents. b. The collision risk of drivers going out of control onto a central reservation and knocking a lamp standard down into the carriageway (I have assumed provision of standards on the central reserve on the French pattern which, speaking as a layman, is the most efficient and attractive system of lighting I have experienced). However, it does not appear to me that a vehicle going out of control at speed and shooting across the central reserve into the opposing carriageway is likely to be decelerated much by anti-dazzle planting and would be just as dangerous to on-coming traffic as a vehicle colliding with a lamp standard which may or may not fall into the carriageway.

7 The cost and value of lighting If both carriageways could be lit from one standard in the cntral reserve I gather that the cost might be something like £4,000 per mile of road; naturally Dr. Gillbe and Mr. Daniels will be able to give a more authoritative estimate. Even at £5,000 a mile this seems to me as a whole, particularly if the benefit in increased safety and convenience are, as seems likely, enough to offset most or all of the cost. One fcan, however, only assess the benefits in terms of potential traffic volumes which will probably be much higher on, say, the St. Albans BP than on the rest of the London-Yorkshire or Preston-Birmingham Motorways. The St Albans BP is likely to be very similar to the Autoroute de l’Ouest in many respects. 8 The method of provision and authority for lighting schemes Mr. Daniels has already commented at minute 10 about the question of treasury authority and statutory authority for lighting motor roads. I suggest that, whether for junction lighting, obstruction lighting, lighting of service areas, traffic signs or continuous lighting of sectors of motorway, the proper cours to follow and the much simpler one would be to use Section 3(1)(e) of the Special Roads Act, and to make the Minister a lighting authority for each motorway. He could exercise his powers in conjunction with neighbouring lighting authorities if necessary but I am sure it would be much simpler for the Minister to be the lighting authority and he could then have the actual work done for him by the Consulting Engineer of agent authority as part of the Construction of the motorway as a whole. In this connection it is worth noting that Notes on Clauses for the 1949 Special Roads Bill stated “Local authorities have certain functions as distinct from highway functions which it would be inappropriate for them to exercise in reltion to a special road for which some other body is responsible (e.g. street lighting). At the same time it may be essential for the special road authority to be able to exercise such powers if they do not possess them already as local authorities. This is particularly so where the Minister’s special roads are concerned.” It seems clear from this therefore that it was contemplated in 1949 that the Minister may have to light motorways in part at least and that he could do so by designating himself as a lighting authority. In the sme way I think we ought to use Section 3(1) to make the Minister a Public Health Authority in so far as the provision of lavatories in service areas is concerned. [para break] Instead of getting special Treasury authority for lighting on motorways I suggest the proper course is to decide what lighting is required and for its provision and cost to be an integral part of a motorway scheme as a whole and put to the Treasury as an overall scheme (of which lighting would be one of the constituents, service areas another and so on). Each constitutent part is dependent on all the others and one should do a “package deal” with Treasury. [para break] The above note has been prepared rather hastily in view of the urgency and I have not discussed it with HE or Trunk Roads apart from a brief discussion last week with Mr. Skinner. I suggest that what is urgently required is the preparation of a paper dealing with te pros and cons of the various forms of lighting ie junction lighting, continuous lighting, etc showing the cost of lighting and benefit to be derived therefrom plus the disadvantages. To be realistic the paper must be based on given traffic volumes likely to be attained on particular motorways within say five years and should also try to establish the traffic volume at which continuous lighting out to be provided so that, in particular cases, one could decide whether lighting should be provided as part of construction or should be postponed until that particular minimum volume has been reached. Having arrived at a set of general principles which have been accepted departmentally it will be necessary to state those principles to consulting engineers and agent authorities engaged on the preparation of motorway schemes.

So far as the PBP is concerned, which is the urgent case under consideration, one must either defer a decision until the general principles have been accepted or else make an ad hoc decision for the BP without prejudice to applying quite different principles to all other motorways. I suggest an early meeting of the motorways working party will possibly be the quickest method of deciding the PBP case.

PA Robinson



Mr. Robinson’s minute at Document 15 seems to me to set out the position very well, and except for one point in paragraph 4, I agree generally with what he says. The engineering view, so far as junctions are concerned, is that these junctions should be lighted to a reasonably uniform standard over the whole of the junction area, ie at roundabouts and over or under passes, including slip roads and their approaches. It is not possible to lay down any general form of design s the lighting installation would necessarily have to be planned individually for each juntion in accordance with fundamental and well known principles. The gradation of the lighting is not desirable (it is on this point that I disagree with the view expressed in Doc 15) but full use should be made of cut-off fitting where they are appropriate in order to keep glare to a minimum, especially for drivers approaching on unlighted roads.

Similar considerations apply to service areas.

Although there can be no doubt that motorways should be lighted where they run in fairly close proximity to built up areas or, of course, through such ares, we have never envisasged the continuous lighting of motorways (or any other class of road) in open country, not because of any doubt tht such lighting would be desirable for the reasons set out in paragrah 6 of Document 16, but simply because of the cost involved. In this connection the saving in costs arising from reduction of the central reservation and elimination of planting is certainly worth looking into. I do not think the collision risk mentioned in this paragraph should be regarded as a serious factor.

Although the questions raised in paragraph 8 are primarily administrative, I feel bound to say that IMV far and away the best solution would be, as Mr. Robinson suggests, for the Minister to be the lighting authority for these roads.


February 1957

[sent to] Mr. Jeffery


Lighting on motorways

In the schedule relating to the problems of Ancillary Services on Motorways submitted to the Minister and circulated to all Divisions concerned with the Working Party on this topic on 6th September 1956, the initial action for dealing with motorway lighting was placed with HE by consent of all concerned.

Towards the end of last year, as you know, I asked HE for a note on this particular subject, together with notes on other things, eg the treatment of central reservations. Mr Robinson followed this with his memorandum (copy of which is at doc 15 on this file) and, apart from a suggestion that a meeting of the WP shuld be convened to listen to Dr Gillbe expound his views, we have got very little further, though Dr Gillbe does make some general comments at doc 19.

My views are as follows. It can be no function of the WP to sit and listen to views on which they have not previously been primed in some detail. Both I and Mr. Robinson have requested that a considered set of proposals for covering the whole of motorway lighting, with particular reference to the LB section of the LYM, should be prepared and circulated and that when we have all had time to consider this, then we should be happy to have Dr Gillbe cfome and clear any points that may need clarification before we make recommendations as a body to the Minister.

As to Mr. Robinson’s memorandum, with which in general I agree, I have the following comments:

1 I agree with Dr Gillbe that gradation of lighting along the motorway is not desirable, though at present I am not sure that complete lighting of slip roads as well as the intersections on the subsidiary roads is necessary. 2 I am glad to see it stated that we have not envisaged the complete lighting of motorways. Such information s we (excluding HE) have on foreign practice seems to indicate that motorways (other than urban expressways) are not lit throughout their length. The capital cost and maintenance costs in perpetuity will be expensive (especially over a series of motorways) even though they may be small relative to the total cost of the motorway. In any event, it is too late now to consider redesigning the LBM with a view to cutting down the central reserve, eliminating planting, etc even though such considerations might still be taken into account before any other motorways are too far advanced; the same comment I think applies to the design of the Preston-Birmingham Motorway where also the 15ft central reserve has been planned by the Agent Authorities, just as Sir OW has planned it on his motorway. Consideration of this kind of point is, however, almost entirely for HE, though we have to consider very closely the financial implications. 3 I too am inclined to agree with Mr. Robinson, as does Dr. Gillbe, that the Minister should be the lighting authority for special roads. 4 Too much is, IMO, made of the case of lighting on the autoroute de l’Ouest which is very close to being an urban expressway; in any case it was designed with a minimum central reserve, and in other respects its original conception differes from our present conceptions of how a motorway should be laid out. 5 I fully agree with the penultimate paragraph of Mr. Robinson’s paper of 20th December 1956 (doc 15).

We cannot delay much longer on seeking a settlement on this particular problem, and indeed a submission to the minister on a number of Ancillary Services points is overdue; I feel bound, however, to say again that submissions on these points to the Minister ought to be made on the full authority of the Working Party and should be backed, IMO, by the necessary technical and other appreciations showing whence the WP’s views were formulated.

TR Newman HT Division 22nd February 1957

[to Mr Irwin]


Working party on motorways

We ought to have another meeting of the WP in the very near future to consider motorway lighting and other matters, but before we meet I think it is essential that we should have a reasoned paper from the experts in Highways Engineering proposing what the Department’s policy should be. Dr Gillbe’s brief comments on Mr Robinson’s note of 20th December are not IMV sufficient for this purpose and we should be simply wasting the time of all concerned if we were to meet without some considered proposals before us, which could be discussed with a view to submitting agreed recommendations to the Minister.

I agree with Mr Newman’s suggestion that the particular question of the lighting arrangements for PBP had best be treated in isolation without prejudice to what may be proposed for motorways in general.

I am sorry,l but I think Mr Newman is right in suggesting that we should also report to higher uthority and the Minister what it is proposed to do about kerbing or haunching the edges of the carriageways on motorways next to the central reserve, or alternatively if, as you say, it is proposed to omit kerbing, how drivers are to be prevented or discouraged from running at speed into the soft earth of the central reserve (which would surely be extremely dangerous). This problem will not of course arise on the nearside where there will be a considerable width of hard shoulder to the left of the carriageway. Here again I think a short reasoned paper by Highways Engineering is called for and I suggst that it might conveniently include also an indication of what is proposed by way of treatment of the central reserve itself.

I hope Highways Engineering will be able to put forward papers on these subjects for the WP’s consideration very soon.

AHM Irwin HT Division 6th March 1957

[sent to] Mr. Jeffery


Notes on this file: it was closed until 1990. Originally HS 7/3/001.

MT 39/41

This deals with Montagu’s Northern Western Motorway bill. RED ALERT—What was the Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road Act 1923? And apparently a company called Midland Motorways was organized, with directors, etc. to promote the general scheme of a LBM, extending to Liverpool as well. Need to request the BOT file on this. This file was closed until 1980 (chronological coverage is 1922-29).

NOTE—need to recall what the LBM Working Party had to say about the need for a speed limit on motorways, based on measured speeds on the LBM. (This really needs to go in a previous file.)

This file is vitally important to the thesis. Main points:

• Business case reviewed by Henry Maybury. HM found that the estimates of construction and maintenance costs per mile had been lowballed, based on recent contract prices. In addition, a generous appraisal of their revenue estimates showed that it would not be possible to meet the estimated operating cost of £12/mile/day on estimated traffic and the proposed tolls. At best £5-£6 per day per mile could be expected without induced traffic. Desirability of the road to new traffic would also decrease long before it reached its carrying capacity. (No evidence of latent demand and discretionary trips, or that they were thinking in terms of such concepts.) It was unclear whether the economics would work once the railways started to lower their rates in competition. Granting right to build a motorway would mean also granting the right to build a new railway (was there apparently some pressure to keep from building new railways?). Landtake would be large (120’ between fences, 50’ paved surface). • Maybury also looked at constitutional innovations. Bill allowed Minister to make an Order (without requirement for confirmation by Parliament at large, though the draft Order had to be reviewed by a parliamentary committee) conferring the same wide-ranging powers and statutory force as a Private Member’s Bill. This was unprecedented, the nearest example of such wide-ranging legislation being a clause in one of the Scottish acts allowing the Secy of State for Scotland to make Provisional Orders requiring subsequent confirmation by Parliament. • There are also references here and there in this file to the parallel group seeking to build a London-Brighton motorway from Croydon (?) to Pyecombe, who were found similarly to have underestimated the expense of their proposal and its chances of financial success.

The actual documentary material includes:

• Copies of the various Motorway Bills, introduced in 1923 and 1924 sessions. • Cabinet minute dealing with the Motorway Bill as a possible unemployment relief scheme. Maybury’s report is attached. • Maybury’s report on the business case of the scheme (with five appendices, including several giving basic company info for Midland Motorways). • A 10-inch map showing the conceptual alignments for the proposed motorways. (The Midlands Motorway proposed an alignment running about midway between present-day M1 and M40 to Birmingham, and then fairly close to modern M6 between Birmingham and Manchester.) • Correspondence received by various govt officials from GP Blizard and other promoters of the scheme. (Other big names associated with the scheme include Carkeet-James.) • (Apparently confidential) Advice from Maybury to Minister about what line the Ministry should take on the scheme. It reproduces text parallel to, but is not a true copy of, Maybury’s report. • Submissions from local authorities, almost universally in favor of the motorway. Two main reasons: it reduces traffic on their own highways, and thus derates them, while they also insist that the motorway should be rated. • Position paper from Las indicating what provisions they want to see in the Motorways Bill with respect to themselves. (Rating is one of them.) • Minutes of a plenary meeting between Gosling, the MinT, and a consortium of Las in the proposed motorway corridor. • Memo from Treasury Solicitor’s office examining the procedural implications of the Motorways Bill.

ALL of this well worth copying and taking away for thesis—real question is choosing the most efficient extraction strategy. Scanner or typing?

MT 95/652

This is billed as a “general” file on planning and designing the end of PBP-start of LBP section of the Birmingham-to-Shap (later Birmingham-to-Penrith) motorway, also known as the Preston-Lancaster motorway or the Broughton-Hampson Green Special Road. (PBP was known as Bamber Bridge to Broughton Special Road.) It covers 1959-62 and was closed until about 1993; the protagonists in the correspondence are James Drake and his Ministry contact, WE Digby, who worked out of London. The file’s chronological coverage apparently begins after the MOT had abandoned the earlier (original?) system of having the DRE supervise motorway construction, and was supervising all contracts centrally out of London. Much of the correspondence focuses on:

• Technical issues connected with the Compulsory Purchase Order. The line and slip roads orders were apparently approved without ANY objectors, but the CPO had objections from three sources—a Mrs Whitaker who was concerned about her trees being taken out to put in an embankment to carry Ray Lane or Ray’s Lane over the motorway, a Mr L-something-or-other who was concerned about water running off the motorway getting into a nearby Brook—name of the brook started with B—and causing flooding on his property during heavy rainfall, and a third objector whose objection was withdrawn before the public inquiry was held. Before the inquiry into the CPO, the LCC had made a concession to Mrs Whitaker by relocating Rays Lane 25 yards to the north (not the 90 additional yards she asked for) and putting the bridge carrying it over the motorway on the other end of a 1 in 15 slope. L-something-or-other was assured that both the motorway and the nearby railway line were or were going to be constructed with culverts for the brook large enough to handle the runoff from storms, and the bottleneck in flow was between the two. The Lancashire River Board was told to prepare a scheme for expanding the brook between the two, by dredging and building up the banks, so it would not flood Mr L’s property. 7100’ (1 1/3 miles) of the motorway were to drain into this brook. • Issues of design of Broughton Interchange (the Fylde bridges?). Ministry initially wanted a trumpet, even though this would become a major motorway interchange later on when the M55 was constructed to Blackpool and the northern part of the PBP later became the terminal leg of the new motorway. Two trumpet options under consideration: one with 45/30 MPH loop ramps and the other with 35/20 loop ramps. Drake appears to have convinced the Ministry eventually that it should go for a nondirectional wye (shown in one of the 19 enclosed plans but labelled “Fylde”—not knowing Lancs geog too well, I’m assuming Fylde and Broughton are the same general location, since the special road in question was about 10 miles long—or 13 miles including the Broughton part which eventually became part of M55—and had no intermediate junctions), which would handle the traffic more efficiently. Then, apparently after this was resolved (I think in favor of the wye—check this), there were disputes over an over-over design preferred by Drake and an over-under design preferred by the Ministry. The Ministry apparently felt the over-under option was cheaper or better somehow and was prepared to ask Drake to draw up plans for it even though design was well advanced for the over-over option. There was much “agreeing the line” correspondence on this (the official terminology for this, BTW, appears to be “loose minutes”—except the minutes are numbered in some sort of sequence and the different authors cite each other by the numbers of their minutes), with the general upshot being that Drake’s reasons for preferring the over-over option (better constructability, since it didn’t require high embankments which might settle, and its putting one of the lower-speed ramps on a 1/37 upslope which helped with deceleration) were sound, and that the idea of requesting design details for over/under should be abandoned. • Much correspondence and back-and-forth over a weir the MOT was expected to provide for a canal (Manchester Ship Canal?) around Fylde, apparently as a result of runoff from the motorway. British Transport Waterways owned the canal and was initially promised a 78’ weir (based on calculations using Francis equation, with relevant coefficient of 3.33). But then Drake pointed out that a 61’ weir would work because the original calculation had double-counted land covered by the motorway (counted once as farmland contributing to the drainage, and then again as motorway land draining into the canal). BTW then modified the computation with a different coefficient, 2.6, which gave the desired answer—78’ weir. At meetings, the BTW engineers blew smoke, and said 2.6 or 2.8 could both be valid choices of coefficient (both giving 78’ under their preferred set of assumptions). MOT finally gave in on the battle and moved on, paying more for a weir apparently surplus to requirements, when BTW told them that the costs associated with restoring canal banks after the weir (overflows? Floods? Clogs?) were far more than the added cost of the weir itself. • Correspondence also about the detailed design of the curves. Drake wanted to use “false crowns” to avoid flat-spotting within reverse curves. Digby told him to get rid of the need to use false crowns by running the transitions into each other and eliminating the straight, saying that this would of course lead to a very short flat spot within the transition from RH/LH, but this had been done on the LBM without problems. Also, concreting trains could handle this method of transition from LH/RH, but they couldn’t do false crowns. (Translation: we won’t pay for false crowns.) • Utility location—Drake wanted £10,000 to have a ground survey done to verify the precise location of utilities for contractor’s benefit. MOT balked, but eventually authorized. • Bridges—concreting trains to be used on this project. (Initial surface could have been PCCP carriageway, PCCP bridge decks, and asphalt bridge approaches, but this is belied by later references saying that Drake should be given permission to use limestone asphalt in lower courses as long as granite asphalt used for the wearing course. Perhaps the concreting train was needed for a lean concrete base layer?) Digby suggests that Drake make sure of the levels by taking the concreting train across bridges on rails—stopping the concreting at the abutment, scooting the concreting train across the bridge pillars on the rails, and then starting up the concreting again at the opposite abutment, it sounds like.

Document contents—should be a fairly quick process to excavate (1) the summary minute covering the weir dispute and (2) the 19 maps. File as a whole not photocopiable, but perhaps worth choosing correspondence “exemplars” to show how Drake/Digby interacted. CPO is 41 pages, covering 400+ land interests. May be worth excavating it to extract verbiage/land interest density statistics, but as a whole it is not P.

MT 121/22

This file is mainly concerned with arrangements for the opening ceremony of the PBP. It contains copies and drafts of press releases, including some covering motorway signs, an abbreviated press summary of the interim report of the Anderson committee, publicity photos of the new signs (including one of a circular “Motorway ends 1 mile” sign dwarfing a sign shop employee to demonstrate how big the new motorway signs are), one or two backgrounders on the PBP, a copy of the brochure distributed at the ceremony, press cuttings from Times and Guardian on the new motorway signs and the new motorway itself respectively (Times 2/12/1958, Guardian 5/12/1958), small-scale OS maps showing the PBP as a thick blue line.

This file is VERY valuable—as usual the main problem is information extraction. Scanner or typing? Fine distinction since the press material is double-spaced. Scanner unquestionably necessary for photos in clippings, including Times photos of new signs.

Observations about the signs as shown in Times:

• Fractions not as shown in eventual Anderson report—fraction bar is horizontal, not just off vertical. • Initial designs play much more off the circular motorway symbol. Used on many signs without the motorway route designation. • An all-white sign used on local roads, with blue patches, to show the way to the motorway—strikingly modern. This has the Motorway Permanent route designations outside the panels, though, next to the stub arms pertaining to the motorway. Inside the panels, the circular motorway symbol (without route numbers) indicates motorway status. Transport font not altered in s/w for use against the white background. Example shown is at Samlesbury. (Example shown in Anderson report possibly later version of same sign for the same junction. Not sure what the Anderson c’ttee eventually decided WRT patching—need to go back and read their minutes much more closely.) • Signs shown on their stands—temporary things very much like present-day stands for roadworks signs. • “Motorway ends 1 mile” initially on a circular sign.