National Archives 2003-04-10

From ArchiveWiki

Arrived around 12.30 as usual and picked up three files—MT 39/555 (dealing with Severn Bridge approach roads in Gloucestershire), MT 39/558, and MT 39/466.

MT 39/555

This file deals with the Severn Bridge approach road in Gloucester (specifically the stretch between Almondsbury, where the approach road would eventually interchange with the BBM, and the location where the actual bridge crossing would be made, via Aust). It’s a second-order file dealing with route location issues and very few detailed transcriptions of file items will be made. The most prominent issues appear to be the following:

• EH Boyce, Glos CS, is a stroppy bastard. Writes all sorts of letters saying (1) that he isn’t able to find instruments and could the Ministry please requisition back the ones which have been requisitioned for war work/rebuilding Germany (EB Hugh-Jones, his Ministry contact, writes back rather tactlessly saying he is “raising difficulties” which have not been raised by the other county surveyors doing route location work in the RM and BBM corridors; Boyce is stung by this imputation of troublemaking and HJ is eventually forced to apologize and say that “raising difficulties” “was meant in no derogatory sense”), (2) asking if the Ministry wants to renegotiate an Agency Agreement outside of the standard Section 6(1) form of the TRA 1936 (IOW, is the Ministry trying to renege on the standard arrangement of funding 100% of trunk road work up to order-making stage, and then reimbursing CS work from that point on at 4-5% of eventual cost of construction works) (Ministry contact replies by pointing out, inter alia, that cost of a resident engineer is 100% reimbursable as part of the construction work, so 4-5% is sufficient and does not result in the Glos CS subsidizing the Ministry work out of its own office overheads), (3) trying to obtain more generous pay scales for recruitment and retention of technical staff (Ministry resists his demands for more pay because this would mean paying more generously than the Civil Service scale, but does give him fairly generous wage ranges which allow slight discretionary amounts over current Glos CS pay scales, and allow adequate progression in pay and seniority), and (4) raising a fuss about Supervising Engineer Grade II = Resident Engineer when Supervising Engineer Grade I appears to be an empty grade (Ministry says the latter grade has been created to give a rank to someone of unusual high admin ability supervising multiple REs on different contracts, or to allow progression for someone who has been doing RE work for several years and would otherwise feel “passed over” at not receiving a higher annual pay increment). Some of the blowback from this stroppiness includes pacifying meetings with Aldington (then CE) at Ministry HQ in London, and a general insistence at DCE level that the nasty work of dealing with the CS be left to DRE level.

• President of St John’s College, Oxford, writes to Cyril Hurcomb to complain about the proposed route of the motorway running through a tithe barn on the College’s living in Winterbourne. Apparently, College claims, this tithe barn has been remodelled at some expense for use as a village hall for the adjacent village, and the motorway would also affect a neighboring recreational ground. Boyce, Glos CS, checks out this area and claims that the tithe barn is ruinous, earth floor only, solid stone structure, has not been remodelled for use as a village hall although there have been proposals to refurbish it for that, and there is no evidence of a sporting ground nearby (whole farm overgrown with weeds and nettles, he says, and not even worth avoiding the adjacent orchard because it would merely transfer the problem to an adjacent property). This is not what Hurcomb & his juniors want to hear—correspondence pointing out that StJ can make a major nuisance of itself if it wants when the route location orders come up for an hearing. Suggestions that MOT staff check out the tithe barn in person. Boyce had also pointed out that moving the road 50 ft to avoid tithe barn would require reducing the radius of one curve to less than the minimum, and also substituting a reverse curve for a straight + curve.

• Some correspondence adverting to the special legal difficulties of attempting to preserve the lines of motor roads using orders under the TRAs rather than a MRA/SRA. These apparently have to do with the treatment of side roads. One letter adverting to the difficulties:


Construction Section Highways (Engineering)


Trunk Roads Act 1936 Section 6 Trunk Roads Act 1946 Section 4.

With reference to the fourth paragraph of Mr Baker’s minut eof March 14th it is noted that under the TRA 1936 Section 6(3) power to overpass or underpass a trunk road only applies where the intersecting road remains on the existing alignment.

On the other hand, the Act of 1946 Section 4 provides for the diversion of a transverse road where the new junction with the trunk road is not more than 440 yards away from the previous junction. The query arises therefore whether we are still without power to bridge a diverted transverse road over or under a trunk road—or could we construct such a diverted bridged crossing provided that adjacently means of access to the proposed trunk road were also afforded by links thereto.

In the case, however, of an entirely new trunk road across open country there can be no pre-existing junctions, and there would consequently appear to be no obligation to introduce them. At the same time obviously no transverse road could be severed and it might be queried whether a diversion of a transverse road could be effected (with the incorporation of a bridge) under the powers of the Town and Country Planning Act 1932. Your further robservations on this matter would be appreciated.

The County Surveyor will be asked to proceed with the plans of the proposed all-purpose link road from Aust to the existing trunk road A38 and the RPO and RLUO will be asked to give their observations on the motor road alignment from Aust to Amondsbury.

LW Nott For Divisional Road Engineer/SW

Exeter 18th March, 1946


Position appears to be this: the portion from the Severn Bridge itself to Aust is to be AP, so that cyclists can use the Severn Bridge. But the portion from Aust (where the A38 Thornbury Bypass apparently has its southern end) is apparently to be motor road. The legal position is that orders can be made for the AP portion without difficulty, but for the motorway part, orders cannot be made without much trouble.

There is also disagreement with Nott’s view.


South Wales Motor Road

Please see DRE/SW minute (RDS 412/M/6/16+9) dated 18 March as attached.

Attached are also:

(a) A copy of the TCP 1932 etc which I hve borrowed from Mr Sinclair and which should be returned to him after perusal by you. (b) Suggested draft reply to above minute of DRE/SW.

1 I understand that preliminary legal opinion has already been given that, in the case of a new trunk road, junctions are considered to “exist” as soon as the line of the new road is laid down and have to be treated as for an existing road. 2 Town and Country Planning Act 1932 i. Mr Nott has not given any indication s to which section of the Act he considers could be applied to diversions of side roads. It may be that he considers that the diversion of a side road could be termed a “scheme” within the act in view of para 1 of the second schedule (flagged and marked (1)) ii. Legal advice would be necessary before a firm decision could be given but personally I do not consider that the treatment of an intersection or junction would come within the meaning of the Act—which is framed for planned development vide section 1 (flagged and marked (2)) iii. A further difficulty would be that any action (even if possible) would hae to be put through the MinTCP and even he has to submit “schemes” to Parliament. Such procedure would be cumbersome in any event. iv. The Acts of 1932, 43, and 44 are interconnected and complicated and before saying too much I think it would be s well to give Mr Nott the chance of being more explicit—see suggested replies.

[unreadable signature—apparently “Bullmore”] 21 March 1946

• Ginns speaks in favor of Nott’s reading, but agrees that it is undesirable that MOT schemes should be processed through MTCP.

• Memo dealing with planning of Almondsbury interchange.



County of Gloucestershire South Wales Development Area

With reference to your minut eof the 5th instant and Mr Boyce’s letter of the 1swt instant, it is proposed that, instead of a cloverleaf type, the crossing of the est-west and north-south motorways at Almondsbury shall be a three-tier flyover cum roundabout. This will be on the lines of the layout shown in Figures 34 and 35 of the Report upon the Design and Layout of Roads in Built-up Areas but, of course, without cycle tracks and footpaths and with a larger roundabout. It is being designed by Messrs Mott Hay and Anderson who are also dealing with the short lengths of the east-west route and the north-south route from this point to A38 west and A38 south.

With regard to motor rod junctions generally you will recollect that Diagram 4 of the drawing ssent to all Divisional Road Engineers with Mr Lyddon’s minute Z7/80/331 of the 12th September, 1944, indicated the case of a crossing of an all purpose road with an elevated roundabout and the motor road passing underneath. This arrangement can be reversed—with the motor road elevated and the roundabout at ground level—according to local circumstances and this type of layout should be used ehwerever possible. It would have to be adapted as necessary to suit varying needs but could very often take the plae of the layouts shown in Deiagrams 1, 2, and 3 and would form a consistent standard to which a motorist would become accustomed. Diagrams 5 and 6 will not normally be used as they are rather complicated and occupy large areas of land.

(sgd) JFA Baker

Construction Section, HE Division, 8th April 1946

• Much to-and-froing over aerial surveys. Strip contouring 7 miles wide was originally asked for the Severn bridge approach road in Glos; MOT cut this down to 1 mile, except for a couple of patches, one 2 ½ and the other 1 ½ mile wide, which would be involved in possible route realignments.

• MAJOR FRACAS—Duke of Beaufort apparently assured by someone at MOT that the motor road would never be built in his lifetime! The correspondence:


Shire Hall, Gloucester 10th August, 1946

My dear Aldington,

South Wales Development Area. Proposed New Trunk Roads. East-West Route. Almondsbury-Calne.

This route, as planned, after crossing the Bath Trunk Road A46 crosses the Estate of the Duke of Beaufort who is, as you may know, the Lord Lieutenant of this county.

Some while ago I had a discussion about this with him, and I promised that when the line had been fixed I would pursue the matter further with him with a view to deciding as far as possible the points of access that should be provided across the motorway for his farms, four of which are affected by the present line.

On the 1st instant, in company with Mr Ganderton I met the Duke again at his Estate Office at Badminton and went further into these points. However, it transpired that between the time of the previous discussion with him and the 1st instant he had had some contact with your Ministry “at a high level” and he assured me that he received a categorical assurance that this route would not be constructed “in his lifetime.” He therefore expressed his complete surprise at my further approach to him on the matter.

As his statement is so greatly at variance with the instructions that we have received from the Ministry in regard to the preparation of this scheme, I shall be glad if you will confirm that there is no substance in the assurance given to the Duke, as at the present moment neither he nor I know what to believe.

I may add that it would appear ludicrous tome if such an assurance were given him, when all the indications that I have received from the Ministry are to the effect that this route will be constructed within the next five years.

Yours sincerely,

EC Boyce

Major HE Aldington Chief Engineer MOT Devonshire House Piccadilly London W1


12th August 1946

My dear Boyce,

South Wales Development Area Proposed New Trunk Roads East-west route Almondsbury-Calne

Thank you for your letter of 10th August, which I have just received on my return form a fortnight’s holiday.

I am very surprised at the information you sent me in your letter following the discussion you had with the Duke of Beaufort.

I am hastening to send you this note to let you know that so far as I am aware there is no substance whatever in the information the Duke has received. However, before you take any action on this perhaps you would be good enough to wait until I write you again after I have made some enquiries.

Yours sincerely,


EC Boyce, Esq, BSc, AMInstCE County Surveyor Gloucestershire County Council Shire Hall Gloucester

• File contains inquiries of various people—P Wilson, R Tolerton, Minister, and Parliamentary Secretary. All deny talking with the Duke of Beaufort. Tolerton suggests that the Duke has misremembered a conversation he had with somebody, as no permanent official at the Ministry would dare make such an unequivocal statement.

• More correspondence dealing with HEA’s desire for monthly progress reports from Glos—he feels that surveying is going more slowly in Glos than in Wilts and DRE/SW’s excuse is that Boyce has a lot to do and has had to loan people for laying out the Tewksbury-Ross road.

• EB Hugh-Jones, 13/12/1946, advising Pidgeon that he and Baker have reconnoitered the line in Wilts and Glos with the respective CS and recommending specific changes in alignment (increases in curve radii at chainages 2+000, 6+000, 72+000, 41+000, and hump flattenings at 29+000 and 56+000).

• Blowback from Boyce!!


13th January, 1947

Dear Aldington,

South Wales Development Area Proposed New Trunk Roads East-West Motor Road

I have been asked by the DRE at the request of Hugh-Jones to amend the proposed curvature on certain sections of the above route so as to increase the radii substantially in a number of cases. I judge this to be initiated in accordance with the principles laid down in your memorandum “Fitting the Road to the Landscape.”

Personally, I think I can claim that no-one has been more concerned with the amenity aspect of road construction than I; in fact I wrote an article in “The Surveyor” on the subject several years ago, long before the Koestner translation came to hand, and in which I referred to the importance of “landscape selection.”

The Ministry, however, now seem to have “gone from the sublime to the ridiculous” on this question of amenity and appear to have taken for gospel all that has appeared in the German Press on the subject; we have, in fact, seen no reply or comments on the points raised, by the German engineers responsible for the design of the autobahnen which have been subject to this criticism.

In my opinion the Ministry, in their (present) enthusiasm for amenity, have lost sight of the fundamental considerations upon which a road design should be based. Surely the most important point is to create a road that will provide a means of safe, fast transport, suitable for all the vriety of traffic that will use it, not forgetting the long wheel-based, relatively slow moving commercial vehicles. These are particularly important having regard to the intention in the present scheme to attempt to assist in the industrial development of South Wales. Secondly, the economic aspect of the job must inevitably be a paramount consideration. Provided these objects are not prejudiced, then the amenity aspect should be considered, but in my view not to the exclusion of the fundamental purpose of the rod.

Now these very long slow curves are not, in my view, consistent with the comfort and convenience o the driver, and I consider we should not go to one extreme or to the other, having in mind the variety of traffic to be catered for. These very long curves must be superelevated for fast traffic, otherwise drivers will try to obtain the advantage of the camber and will tend to drive on the right instead of on the left. If they are so superelevated then they become very tedious to the commercial lorry travelling at say 30 MPH in trying to hold the steering wheel deflected for several miles and at the same time to keep the vehicle up on the banking.

The latter point is confirmed by members of my own staff who have driven heavy Army lorries and trucks on the long curves on the autobahnen in Germany. We took a series of observations of fast American truck drivers during the war, and the results showed that on the average they tried to reduce their turning control of the wheel to the minimum and for the shortest time possible.

There is a further point that, from the safety point of view, the degree of curvature on a road should be immediately obvious to the fast driver and he should not be led into the trap of thinking that he can maintain a high speed on a long flat curve unless it is appropriately laid out for the purpose with adequate superelevation.

We have given very careful consideration to this aspect of the location work and have discussed the matter at great length; we have come to the conclusion that the limits of radii at which we should aim should be 1500 feet to 3000 feet, except of course where physical features of the terrain restrict the choice.

In our view a satisfactory design should consist of lengths of average curvature which can be negotiated by average vehicles with comfort and convenience, alternating with reasonably long lengths of straight road which will be “easy” on the heavy lorry driver but not sufficiently long to become monotonous.

There may be certain objections to very long straight stretches of many miles in length, although even these, in my view, would not be inappropriate in such country s parts of my late county of Norfolk; the Gloucestershire countryide, however, does not permit of this criticism and the longest length of straight on the above road only just eceeds two miles, whilst the average lengths of the straights provide for rather less than a mile.

In the cases that have prompted me to write this letter our original radii and those proposed by the Ministry are as follows:

Gloucestershire CC Ministry of Transport Suggested Actual 2865 5000-6000 5730 2292 4000-5000 4297 1910 3500 3438 2865 5000-6000 5730

The foregoing seems to involve a matter of principle which ought to be settled as such, so that we may prepare our designs in the first instance on some firm policy without the necessity for making alterations at the instance of the Ministry; this is important as not only does it delay the job and make a considerable amount of unnecessary work, but what is more important the alteration of one or two curves in a prepared line of route upsets all the chainage which has been mrked on the ground for future reference and involves a number of chainage equations on the plans which would be better avoided.

Following my telephone conversation with Mr Chettoe, the contents of this letter cover the important points that I wished to discuss with you at the meeting, before we deal with bridge designs, and I felt I ought to write to you beforehand setting out my views so that you would have an opportunity of considering them in advance of the meeting.

Yours sincerely,

EC Boyce

Major HE Aldington#MOT Devonshire House Piccadilly London W1


Mr Baker

MR 7 in Gloucestershire Notes on Boyce’s letter of 13th January 1947

Para 1 I think it quite right to say that our ideas on Motor Roads have matured during the past six months and tha tparts of the “fitting the Road to the Landscape” memo would now appear in modified form; nevertheless this memo and the Motor Road memo do still form the basis on which I work.

Paras 2-3 My judgment on these matters has beenbuilt up over a number of years and is in many ways my own and whilst admitting that Koester gives very useful food for thought and, after assimilation, useful leads on problems of alignment, I am aware of no directive that my work should be based on Koester’s teaching or for that matter on any one else’s.

Para 4 I suggest that Boyce is putting up “airy persiflage” to cover up the obvious deficiency and awkwardness of his first submission. Generally it can be said that in other countries where the tendency has been to adopt the “electric pylon” type of alignment whilst travelling over level country the layout inevitably becomes one of sweeping curves when the route enters the foothills, which are very similar to the Gloucestershire countryside.

Paras 5 and 6 We of course envisage an overall increase in speed of heavy traffic above 30 MPH when our Motor Roads are in existence but in any case any motorist of experience will hav enoted that it is always necessary on a carriageway which has crossfall to hold the steering wheel against the crossfal, hence on a long curve, with the crossfal assisting the curve the strain will be lessened not increased.

We propose uniform superelevation over the whole width of each carriageway but in fact we do not propose any superelection on curves of greater than 5730 ft radius although common sense will dictate that the crossfall will be mde to assist in traversing the bend.

Para 7 This paragraph is incomprehensible!! A road should be designed to give safety at a certain speed and the greater the radius of the curve the easier this is to effect and the greater becomes the risk from lengths of straight the traversing of which lasts for only 2 minutes and then flashing round bends of small radius. Surely this paragraph would better not have been written.

Para 8 onwards There is no doubt that Boyce does not think on the same broad lines as the Engineers of this Department and whereas it can be agreed that in fenland one would expect to meet long lengths of straight road since this would be in harmony with the nature and previous works of engineers which have by now blended with the landscape, any protracted length of straight in this part of Gloucestershire would be out of place.

The superelevation necessitated by our suggested curves is 1 in 28 for the shortest curve against 1 in 15 for the corresponding curve in Boyce’s proposal. (The relative figures are indicated in pencil on the letter.)

Para 12 The obtaining of the proposal from Boyce has been like getting blood from a stone and if he has progressed so far that any alteration in line will involve loss of work then he is guilty of presuming that he could treat the road in exactly the manner he wished and ride roughshod over the correlated thoughts of Chief Engineer and the adjoining County Surveyors. As far as I am aware no preliminary submission was made and if any general directive was made it seems strange that Wilts & Glos have interpreted it so differently.

Summing up, I have the impression that Boyce would like to treat this new Motor Road s if it wee a “classified road scheme” and submit a ‘fait accompli’ to us with a take it or leave it attitude.

We can, of course, agree that equation of chainage is undesirable!!!!!

WH Spencer



20th January, 1947

Dear Boyce,

South Wales Development Area Proposed East-West Motor Road

Aldington has passed me your letter of the 13th instant, from which I gather that:

(a) you believe we wish you to adhere slavishly to the German plan of road alignment; (b) you consider curves should be much sharper with, say, minimum and maximum radii of 1500’ and 3000’ respectively; (c) you object to alterations which upset the chainages you have staked out on the ground.

With regard to (a) there is no suggestion that the Koestner translation is to be blindly followed. On the other hand, it would be foolish to disregard the lessons to be learnt from both the successes and the failures experienced in the autobahn location.

With regard to (b), you should appreciate that this matter was carefully considered by the representative Committee which prepared Memo 575. Our motor road curves are to be of large radius and, so far as is practicable, should not be sharper than 2865 ft. radius. If of smaller radius than 5730 ft, they should be approached by transitions. As the superelevation for curves of this radius, and larger, merely consists of the normal 1 in 40 cross fall there can be no question of drivers having to hold their vehicles “up on the banking” as you put it.

With regard to ©, you should, of course, have submitted draft plans before the Trowbridge meeting, and it would be appreciated if you would let us have your future tentative alignments in advance, s is done by the other Agent Authorities.

In the 10th para of your letter you mention the possible desirability of longer straights in typical East Anglian country. It is agreed that long straights could well be incorporated in such a landscape.

I hope you can arrange to expedite the completion of the plans in accordance with the modifications you have now been asked to make, because we are very anxious to put them forward for an Order. Do you think you can have them ready by the end of the month?

My kind regards and best wishes, Yours sincerely,

EB Hugh-Jones

• Memo—Aldington having meeting with MOT staff and the CS for Glos, Wilts, Hereford to decide bridge details. HEA wanted 6-8 standard bridge designs (understanding that only bridge type would be standardized, and each bridge would need to be individually detailed on plans). Tentative 16’ 6” minimum clearance for UCs agreed, with allowance to go down to 15’ for minor unclassified roads. Pidgeon says order of priority is (1) Severn bridge approach, (2) Ross and Tewksbury Spur and BBM north of it, (3) Bristol W bypass, and (4) rest of BBM. 3 pp. P.

• Another memo on what would be the Almondsbury interchange.


HE Division Construction Section

Severn bridge approaches Junction of north-south and east-west roads at Woodlands East of Almondsbury

Following receipt of the Chief Engineer’s minute of January 27th, the CS of Glos was requested to prepare amended plans and sections on th elines indicated and including a three tier flyover cum roundabout junction at the intersection of the LSW and Birmingham-Avonmouth proposed new trunk roads at Woodlands east of Amondsbury.

The CountySurveyor has replied to the effect that he will proceed with details as requested, but he puts forward the suggestion that the above junction should be of the modified cloverleaf type, and I annot do better than to quote his own remarks on this matter. He writes thus:

“Thee is one matter, however, to which I wish to draw attention, namely the proposed modification of the motor rod intersection at Woodlands so as to provide a three deck flyover cum roundabout.

“From the very earliest stage when this major crossing was located a cloverleaf lfyover has been provided for, and wilst it is appreciated that it is the Ministry’s policy in the case of the intersection of two motor roads to utilize the three deck design, there are objections to the adoption of this proposal in this insance owing to the nature of the ground.

“The country surrounding this crossing is almost dead flat, and to achieve even a double deck flyover would involve very substantial embankments to obtain the appropriate headroom; to obtain a three level design additional height becomes necessary and the whole layout would become an extremely costly and difficult engineering structure. It is appreciated, however, that a reduction in height could be obtained by running either the east-west or north-south motor road below ground level, but this would involve drainage difficulties which may be hard to overcome; even so, an inevitable increase in ehight would be involved compared with two level construction

“Having regard to the foregoing I shall be glad to know if the Ministry will agree to a modified cloverleaf so that two level construction only is involved, bearing in mind that the Ministry’s objection to the large area of land involved with a cloverleaf layout is fully recognized. In this case, however, the land has no intrinsic value except that it is agricultural land; nevertheless, the holdings will inevitably in this case be so intersected as to render their continued use in their present form im practicable, and therefore to endeavor to save a relatively small area of land by increasing the engineering difficulties and the cost of construction by very large sums does not appear to be justified in this particular case.

“I shall be glad if you will consult the Chief Engineer on this matter, as I think that this intesection of two of the most important motor roads to be constructed in the ewest of England justifies exceptional treatment and need not necessarilybe regarded as a precedent for other crossings, which will have to be provided for in the present proposed development scheme.”

There is something to be said in favor of the County Surveyor’s remarks, and I should be glad to have your observations on the question of principle involved. We could of course ask for the comparative plans, sections, and estimates of the alternative proposals, but this would involve a good deal of work, and you may already have sufficient data to assist you in coming to a decision on the relative merits of the alternative junction deigns in this special case. I take it the main reason for generally favoring the thre tier roundabout design would be on account of the lesser overall area of land required for this type of junction, but you will notice the county surveyor’s remarks as quoted above about the land.

I should be glad to have further directions on this question before replying to the county surveyor.



Exeter 27/2/1947

• Memoranda (Feb & Mar 1947) seeking and getting approval for the alignment changes in response to Hugh-Jones’ comments. Baker and Shaw (for DRE/SW).

• Meeting minutes discussing RCFA’s suggested decorative treatments for bridges.

• May 1947: Bill Spencer and N Shaw for DRE/SW have an argument about reverse curves. Spencer says that it is not necessary to provide a straight between reverse curves. Shaw insists that it’s bad to have the first curve end and the second curve begin on a common tangent point. JFA Baker eventually weighs in on Spencer’s side, saying that the added cost of setting-out should not be a consideration, the straight will introduce an undesirable kink in the alignment, and would also force drivers not to make a continuous steering movement in going from one curve to the other.

• July 1947: the Almondsbury interchange discussion resurfaces. Boyce has apparently prepared 3 schemes for it, of which #2 is favored by Boyce and Shaw (acting for DRE/SW). (DRE/SW = Pidgeon?) Scheme 1 is apparently a classic cloverleaf, with smallest land-take but requires 5 bridges, has limited visbility at two points, and requires weaving. Scheme 2 requires only one bridge, has good visibility, and is cheapest. Scheme 3 is apparently a three-level roundabout. Let’s see what Spencer has to say about this.


Mr Richards Mr Baker

Junction of east-west and north-south routes at Almondsbury

With reference to Mr Shaw’s minute of 12th July forwarding their proposals for the junction of the N-S Route with the Severn Bridge approach road at Almondsbury the following comments are offered:

Scheme 1 This is purely a reduced cloverleaf design with 1 in 20 grades and a spiral ramp reducing from 150 ft to 100 ft radius on the falling ramp and 100 ft constant radius on the rising ramp. There is a traffic weave at each junction and the weaving distance is small. It is considered that the acceleration and deceleration lanes will be dangerous owing to the slow speed at exit and the higher speed approach from the straight—moreoever the lanes are merely widening of the existing roads and undivided therefrom. The sight line through the bridge is about 350 ft making use of the deceleration lane.

Scheme 2 This is a cloverleaf design squeezed flat with the consequent steepening of gradients and reduction of radius of curves which are as low as 100 ft. The acceleration and deceleration lanes necessitate the provision of a wider bridge than would normally be required.

The design gives one motor road with a different type of junction entry to the other and the number of points of exit and entry are doubled and signposting is much more difficult. The area of land required is greater than that required for our standard 3 tier design MR2 by some 10 acres.

Scheme 3 This design is much more ambitious than our MR2 being 600 ft in diameter as against our 350 ft but otherwise it follows closely the approved design. But estimate for this design is £175,000 + £35,000 which gives a comparable cost of say £210,000 for a junction to our dimension with north ramps in lieu of retaining walls to correspond with the Gloucester design. [Gloucester’s claim as to the added cost of Scheme 3 was £100,000.]

From the above notes it will be seen that the Gloucester layouts neither require less land nor are more economical than our standard MR2 design and I suggest that DRE be asked to submit an estimate for a design for the junction using a layout not exceeding our MR2 in size but with north slopes instead of retaining walls before we finally make our decision on this matter.

A draft minute is attached for your approval

WH Spencer

• New issue (August 1947)—how to handle footpath crossings, stoppings-up, and diversions. Spencer says not to do it at the Section 1(2) (line order) stage, but to do it later on.

• Arguing over Almondsbury again—HQ raps Shaw on the knuckles for continuing to plead for Scheme 2 after he has been told to adapt MR2.

• Yes—Pidgeon is DRE/SW.

• Almondsbury again—Shaw farmed the problem to Boyce, who replied (1) that he couldn’t furnish the unit costs MOT HQ wanted, (2) that he would consider any scheme he prepared to be final, and (3) that the request for added revisions would involve him in an “enormous amount of unnecessary work.” Eeek.

• Pidgeon’s 4 pp. minute of a meeting with the Glos CS to discuss status of motor road progress. Worth copying (but not retyping), and very good overview of the program TD. (Dated 11/6/1948.) Alignment not to be changed after HQ review (“streamlining”) and RE to have no discretion to tamper with it—all excess fill to be made up by widening embankments etc. CS given a publication describing road crusts capable of sustaining 15,000 lb wheel loads, told to study it, told in effect to use it and to give feedback to MOT.

• Memo on streamlining:


HE Division Construction section

County of Gloucester

Clane-Severn Bridge Motor Road Wiltshire boundary-Almondsbury

Reference is made to Mr Spencer’s telephone conversation with Mr Nott on the 23rd December 1948, explaining that Mr TG Richards would like a meeting with the County Surveyor or his representative at Headquarters in order to discuss the application of streamlining to the profile forwarded on the 26th June last. Following the receipt of this message, I wrote to the County Surveyor asking him to arrange for his representative to attend the meeting, and in a subsequent telephone conversation Mr Boyce suggested that it was somewhat premature to apply the principles of streamlining to the profiles so far available and that it should wait until larger scale drawings were ready. I explained that the present was the best time to exchange views and dicuss other aspects of the deisgn and I hve now received from him what he states is his final location plan of the above route in Gloucestershire (No. NL/0/92) together with the profile (No. NL/0/93) which are forwarded herwith. He recommends that the motor road should be constructed within 100 ft limit of deviation horizontally and 5 ft vertically, the exact final design being dependent uon the balance of exact quantities based on detailed cross sections.

He states that the route has been planned and engineered primarily so as to provide a route for sfe travel generally at speeds up to 100 MPH, has been located so as to involve a minimum of agricultural severance and complies as far s practicable with the suggestions of the Provincial Land Commissioner. He adds that he is satisfied that, if the road should be constructed as shown on the plans it would involve a minimum of disturbance to the country through which it passes, and would present a statisfctory appearance to the rod user. He emphasizes that it could be constructed within the global estimated cost per mile for this class of work. Provided no major laterations are made to the line and levels proposed.

Mr Boyce states that he is now prepared to discuss the proposal with myself and the Chief Engineer at a mutually convenient date and thereafter, to use his own words, he will be prepared to make such alterations to the scheme as may be suggested by the Ministry in exact accordance with their instructions, provided that it is clearly understood that the Ministry of Transport accept full responsibility for the effect of such alterations, if any, upon the final design.”

You will note from the revised profile that an attempt has been made to sweeten the vertical alignment without adjusting the plan of the road, but this may or may not meet your requirements and you may consider aj oint meeting still desirable, in which case you will of course let me know.

The somewhat confident tone of the Conty Surveyor’s letter is probably due to the fact that in revising the profile, he has had access to an apparatus designed and constructed by a member of the motorways staff. This “model” enables a two mile length road to be set out in a large room or corridor on either a natural or distorted scale, and the “perspective” viewed or photographed from any position along the route.

AJ Coombs For DRE/SW

Exeter 4/2/1949.

• Hugh-Jones setting up meeting with Boyce for 17/3/1949 to dicuss, inter alia, prestressed concrete for bridges.

• Lists of agreed bridge widths at major/minor road crossings.

• TR 12a—the application for a 1(2) Order. A letter (Pidgeon to Hugh-Jones) about this order makes reference to a letter containing comments received from Boyce, which apparently hasn’t made it into this file. “I received from him a typical and rather lengthy reply, but I feel that it would not be profitable use of your time or mine to pursue with him the points referred to in his letter.”

• Finally, a memo: meeting minutes from a site inspection in Glos. Boyce now feels the MOT’s favored route traverses sidelong ground which hides an unstable geological formation. Proposed an alternative route based on 6° curves and 5% maximum grade. MOT’s original route based on 2° curves, 5% maximum grade. THIS MEMO WORTH RETYPING.



Note of inspection at Springs Farm and meeting at Cheltenham, April 12th 1949, with copy of County Surveyor’s letter to DRE dated May 12th 1949 attached as an Appendix.

Mr EB Hugh-Jones, DCE, MOT Mr JG Pidgeon, DRE/SW Mr EC Boyce, CS/Glos Mr FG Rawlings, Supervising Engineer, Glos CC Trunk Road Surveys [names omitted] MR AS Coombs, MOT Exeter

The original ine of the east-west motor road, as streamlined by the CS and agreed by HQ with minor adjustments, was pegged out on the site, on a length between trunk road A46 and the foot of the western slope of the Cotswold Escarpment, near Springs Farm.

The object of the site inspection was to enable the DCE to form an opinion as to whether the original line or an alterantive suggested by the CS, which followed more or less the existing Class 3 road, should be adopted.

The alternative proposal was based on 6° curves and 5% grades, whereas on the original line 2° maximum curves were used with a 5% maximum grade. The CS alternative was suggested inorder to overcome the engineering difficulties that might be encountered in traversing sidelong ground where there was evidence of an unstable geological formation.

Mr Hugh-Jones thought that oolitic rock ledges would be encountered, as the terraced nature of the ground suggested this, and, after discussion, the conclusion was reached that a this rock was comparatively soft and stratified, it could probably be excavated without undue difficulty. The CS said he had allowed £1 per cubic yard for excavation in his provisional estimate, but Mr Hugh-Jones said that in mas work of this type 5/- was a more reasonable figure. It was finally decided to agree 5/- for estimating purposes.

All things considered, on thebasis of present information, he preferred the original route, but he asked that a soil survey should be carried out on the whole length in Gloucestershire, and as the CS’s staff could not undertake this work, a firm such as Soil Mechanics LTD should be employed.

At the later discussion in the Trunk Road Surveys Office, Oakley Farm, Cheltenham, the minutes of the meeting held there on March 17th were agreed, subject to certain minor amendments, in view of which the County Surveyor promised to have the document retyped and circulated.

Arising out of the fourth paragraph of those minutes, the DRE referred to Haw Bridge, as the CS had enquired what was the CC’s position WRT reimbursement of the cost of carrying out the investigations requested by Mr Chettoe as to its carrying capacity, and the possibility of strengthening work being undertaken as part of the heavy indivisible load programme.

The DCE said that he would look into the question of whether the Department could pay the full cost of bridge strengthening work on routes carrying heavy indivisible loads.


1945-49, closed date 2000.

MT 39/558

This file contains progress reports on design for the 1946 motorway schemes. These generally included roads thought of as high-standard dual c’way bypasses before the war but which were upgraded to full motorway as part of the process of policy appreciations during the war. There is one table giving estimated completion dates for various projects—the earliest being scheduled for completion in 1951 while the latest in 1955 or so. In light of what eventually happened, this was impossibly optimistic scheduling, but it is useful to have a picture of the chunks in which the motorway network was planned (Newport bypass, Severn Bridge, Severn Bridge approach roads, Slough bypass, Maidstone bypass, St. Albans bypass, Lancashire N-S road, etc.), and of the “breakpoints” in the design process that were then in use. These appear to have been (1) walking reconnaissance of the line of the route resulting in preparation of plans on one-inch maps (walking reconnaissance mainly to identify logical “control points”), (2) detailed instrument survey resulting in 1:2500 plans, (3) preparation of the profile, and (4) ground investigations leading to mass-haul diagrams, finalized plan + profile, bridge and interchange location, and nearby/intersecting road treatments. These stages were iterative, with the same alignment being worked over multiple times in two dimensions and with various considerations (such as soil conditions, detail design of bridges and interchanges, etc.) being brought in at succeeding levels of detail. Result: cascading levels of detail; cascading complexity; resolution toward a very detailed final design.

MT 39/466

This file deals with two bridges on the Maidstone Bypass—the Medway crossing and a bridge over the Southern Railway. It is basically correspondence only (except for plans and elevations of the proposed bridges in a separate envelope) and covers various administrative details, including engaging a consulting engineer (Scott, possibly part of the future Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick firm of consulting engineers?) to design the bridge, hiring a soil survey firm to carry out borings in the vicinity of the bridge and investigate both the vertical and horizontal bearing capacity of the soil to see if reverse thrust vaults are possible, negotiating an agreement with the railway company to come in and build over the tracks with provision for future widening of the railway, etc. Full review of this file not possible in the time available, but there aren’t any big surprises here.

Side references interesting, though. There is a major discussion on whether the consultant should be identified in the contract, with references to past contracts where consultants had been or had not been named in the contracts. These are

• Ashford bypass • Selby bypass • Maidenhead bypass • Dartford tunnel

This points up a need to do some work with maps and determine the extent to which the Maidstone Bypass represented a leap forward in MOT thinking WRT access control and grade separation. Was the Maidstone Bypass really the very first fully grade-separated road to undergo at least partial final design? Perhaps a reasonably complete list of fully grade-separated AP bypasses representing motorways (more or less) could be obtained from the Motorways (Policy) file.

Stopped about 1/3 of the way through. It had reached WWII at that point. Closed till 2003, covering dates 1936-52.