Andy Hipkiss likes the M45 [Dec 07]:
The M45 is a great motorway. Having lived in Solihull for nearly all of my 23 years of driving (so far) it offers a nice change to the traffic lights of Coventry and the A45 when heading to the M1 and beyond. Coming northbound from London on the M1 and heading to Brum you have the option of the M6 which you always know will be busy or the tranquility of a few miles of peace and quiet on the M45. It used to have the reputation as the place to go to break the speed limit in your 1st car (I cannot condone this sort of behaviour) but of course Mr Plod has his speed cameras now so that piece of fun has been curtailed somewhat. Seriously, I just cannot understand why the motorway is SO quiet. It probably carries less that 1% of the traffic when compared to the adjacent stretch of the M6 from the M1 to Coventry etc.
1. In the very early 70's I lived in London and was a student in Birmingham - I had a car and was a frequent user of the M45 - mind you in those pre M6 days I sometimes came across other traffic! reaching the roundabout at the end was a bit depressing as it heralded the start of the A45 with the million sets of traffic-lights around Coventry.
2. In 1971 the prop-shaft of my rusting Anglia van came adrift on the Northbound M1 just north of where the M10 joins - ie featured in your photos - waited 3 hours for a tow off - it had to be a rear end tow and the breakdown driver from Hemel Hempstead sort of did a 3 point turn on the carriage-way!! Imagine that today!"
The M1 / M10 junction was realigned in the mid 1980s when the M1 was widened between junctions 5 to 8 from D2M to a mix of D3 and D4 Motorway. Heading north on the M10, you cross the M1 earlier than prior to the 1980s - the M1 has been moved around 50m east of it's original position through this junction. Consequently, you cross the new bridge, then almost immediately pass over the buried abutments of the abandoned Owen Williams bridge. You can feel the buried abutments through the carriageway as you pass over them.
There is a landfill site adjacent to the M1 / M10 junction - the smell is horrible. Always a good time to shut out air from the outside world!
Finally, if the M1 is widened between Junction 6A and 10, the M10 is likely to be "despecialised", and will probably be known as the A414. A sad end for one of Britain's pioneering motorways, which, in my opinion, is not pathetic in the way that some of the others on the site are! I like the M10."
Good morning... and nice site.
But hindsight is the only 20:20 vision and I fear you have fallen into the trap of applying a 2003 analysis to a 1960 situation.
> The answer - get as much traffic as possible off the motorway system before the end, hence the M45 (getting traffic off towards Coventry and Birmingham), and the M10 at the southern end.
Really? No. Not at all.
The M1 was the London-Birmingham Motorway, conceived towards the end of the 1950s, a decade in whose first four years the country was experiencing rationing, severe austerity and a road and rail transport network that had seen no investment since the 1930s (which itself was for most of the time a period of miserable recession tempered only by some road construction as unemployment relief, e.g. the Thanet Way, and minor tinkering, e.g. the Kingston Bypass).
There was basically no money for grandiose motorway schemes, so those plans that did look like they could be financed had to be designed for 'best value', integrated with the existing trunk road system.
Yes, they did have plans for the M1 to become a London-Yorkshire motorway to relieve the A1 but the could not afford this initially. So instead they used what little budget they had to achieve maximum value.
Remember, if you will, the state of Britain's trunk roads at this time. The A1 was a single two-lane road going right through the middle of congested town centres such as Stevenage, Baldock and Stamford, with many rail level crossings that were closed 50% of the time, such as in Newark. The A5 was similar, choked at Dunstable, Stony Stratford and 101 other places. Worst of all, the heavy lorries had a 20mph (yes!) speed restriction at the beginning of the decade and most were owned by British Road Services, a nationalised organisation that was not funded for investing in loads of new lorries or in superb maintenance. So you had a crawling, underfunded road network with no hope of pots of money to improve it.
To take some of the pressure off the A1 they built the M10, in the vain hope that the M1 would take some of the traffic. The M1 + M45 provided some relief for freight vehicles bound for Coventry and Birmingham, and after the Crick spur was opened, for vehicles going north on the A5. If you look, you will see that between the end of the M45 and Coventry the existing A45 road was upgraded to dual carriageway throughout. And at the same time the A5 north of Crick was widened out to three lanes (with the infamous centre 'suicide lane' for overtaking); most the dualled sections came later.
So, to sum up, the M1 as built with its M10 and M45 spurs was not ill-conceived or 'pathetic' but a masterly piece of 'make do and mend', hitting three birds with one stone. That's not bad going for 'stupid' 1950s traffic planners!
Please take this in the thoughtful and friendly spirit that is intended. It is not a criticism but hopefully enlightenment.
No offence taken, Andrew! I actually agree that the M10 and M45 are a brilliant piece of planning for the 1950s situation. Unfortunately, in a 21st century context, they're certainly pathetic!
About the M10:
How can it be downgraded to an A Class road?
The other end of it leads directly onto the M1 so Non-Motorway traffic that's entitled to use an A road will lead onto a Motorway for at least one mile until junction 8, the A414.
Will they build extra lanes for them????
The simple answer is that yes, there will be extra lanes built either side of the M1 between the two junctions so that traffic going between them will never have to actually join the motorway.
I just thought I'd point out two other matters about the M10.
As I recall, the section of the M25 between junctions 19 and 22 (Watford W and London Colney) was one of the last to be opened - traffic on that stretch was directed via the A41, A405 and A6, i.e. via Watford and St Albans. There was also no M40 north of Oxford, so all the traffic from the Midlands to the continent would have turned off the M1 along the M10, then along the A6 to where the M25 started at South Mimms. Of course, that would have been a very short period in the 1980s.
Another thing is that the A6 ran from Barnet through St Albans to Luton, and the M1 and M10 form a bypass around St Albans and Harpenden.
So, the motorway was really quite important at one time. Of course, the number is out of proportion to its size, but what other motorway in the 1-zone is more important? Unless you renumber the A1(M) the M10, which would be confusing. Or you could call the A1(M) the M1, and the M1 the M10.
Robert Carroll has a connection between the M45 and the M67:
This photo in the M45 gallery shows a bridge different to all the others. This is because it carried a railway line - the erstwhile Great Central Main Line between London, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester.
The stretch across the M45 closed in 1966, so the bridge only saw use for about seven years.
Between Lutterworth and just south of Leicester, M1 was built alongside and the bridge carrying the line over the motorway near Leicester also survives. That stretch of line closed in 1969, not long after the parallel M1 opened.
Further north, the Woodhead route mentioned in your M67 piece was also part of the Great Central.
Phil Reynolds has some extra information about the downgrading of the M10:
In a public consultation leaflet about the M1 up to junction 19, it is mentioned that the M10 will be despecialised in 2008.
Phil Deer has some memories of more sedate times:
I have fond memories of the M10. I grew up in Hertford and when my dad passed his test in 1976, the M10 was the first motorway we went on.
Of course, they were more relaxed motoring times - seatbelts? airbags? And so five-year-old me sat on my dad's lap and together, we drove his 1965 Austin Cambridge all the way up to 60-ish mph. Happy days...
I shall mourn its passing.
Dale Dempsey talks about the M45:
I used this Motorway regularly for 6 years from 1982-88 I worked at a quarry at Brandon (near Coventry) on the A45 and also at Weedon Road,Northampton also on the A45.
I have never known such a quite and desolate road let alone Motorway!
This was the first Motorway where the crows would stay in the hard shoulder as you zoomed by. They used it as their training ground before their migration north to the M6. "
You note that the M45 goes nowhere special. For the vast bulk of the population of the UK, this is true. It comes off the MI and finishes in a large roundabout (which has its own laybys!) in a field near the village of Dunchurch.
However, Dunchurch is just to the south of Rugby, where the famous Public School is situated. The main feeding prep school for Rugby is Bilton Grange, just north of Dunchurch. Since Rugby School owns a lot of land to the south of Rugby, the M45 is effectively a private drive from the M1 to the grounds of Rugby School. And you thought privilege was dead!
Having just visited one of the Highways agency’s exhibitions (11 March 2006) and asked a few questions I learned the following:
The M10 will be renumbered A414 will straddle the M1 (as stated), which will be separated by a grass verge, and will be handed over with new cycle lanes on both directions. However there will be no connection with the roads that currently pass under or over it
I love the M45. I grew up quite near to it and am only about a year older than it. Because we have grown up together I have ahuge amount of affection for it. I often wonder what might have been, had it been continued to Birmingham and how it would have connected with Birmingham. It doesn't exactly end up in the middle of a field but it doesn't exactly go anywhere! I just wish I could stay as young looking as it does- it has hardly changed since it was "born"!
Last Friday I was lucky enough to travel on both these pathetic motorways! The need for the M10 was genuine as me a friend were going from St Albans to Hemel Hempstead (and it was actually quite busy as it was around rush hour).
However, after seeing this site I just HAD to take a detour to see the wonderful M45!
I found that it had one lane coned off and had a 50mph limit for about 4 miles on the western section, and it was still deserted!! After the cones finished I could only see one other car in front of me! It really was a surreal experience, why can't all the UK motorways in the UK be like that? Even the underpass to join the M1 is just SO 50s! I just hope the roadworks weren't part of something to take away its authenticity :-(
Whilst I agree with your summary ofthe M10, it has served me very well, avoiding the M25/M1 junction late afternoons - just come off M25 at J22, round the London Colney by-pass and the A414, on to the M10 and then off the M1 at J8 (Hemel). Saves around 20 minutes!
An anonymous contributor:
The M10 is a lovely motorway. It is how motorways were meant to be: clear, fast, straight, good line of sight, very little traffic... and if you live in South St. Albans, it's perfect for getting to the M1 quickly.
Very occasionally, the M10 gets congested along its entire length (because of traffic on the M1). The M10 was closed for a few weeks after the Buncefield Disaster so it could be used by the emergency services as their "base".
The museum in St. Albans shows some lovely film from the 1950s of the two men who were employed to sweep the entrance to the M10 at the Park Street Roundabout.
Ah, I shall miss it. :-)