M52 South Lancashire Motorway

What's this then?

The South Lancashire Motorway, M52.

So what's it all about?

It's the answer to a small mystery.

Stop messing about! What are you on about now?

OK, two small mysteries, really.

Firstly, why the M62 is west of the M6, when surely it should have a number beginning with "5".

Secondly, why the M62 suddenly turns the corner west of Manchester, whilst the M602 continues on.

I'm waiting with baited breath here.

No need to be sarcastic!

Well, I'm getting fed up waiting for you to get on with things!

Sorry, grumpy!

Anyway - the reason both of the above happen, is all down to the original plans for the motorways to the west of Manchester.

The M62 was supposed to go around the west of Manchester and Salford, then head around the north of the two cities and off to Yorkshire.

The M52 was supposed to link Liverpool and Manchester/Salford, using the present M62/M602 combination.

However, some bright spark decided in the late 1960s to make the M62 go pretty much all of the way across the country, so everything changed.

And the ironic thing is, if the original plan had come to pass, we wouldn't have the silly situation of the M62 being in two bits when the M60 came along...

And, of course, the western section of the M52 has never been completed.

Ah yes, that would be the bit in towards Liverpool, wouldn't it?

Yes, that's the bit. The motorway west of junction 4 was never completed, as it was pending the Liverpool Inner Motorway, a kind of motorway inner ring road for Liverpool, but when that didn't happen, the M62 (née M52) had no-where to go...

Have you got any documentation that shows the M52?

Yes, here's a section from some 1960s MoT documentation describing the M52.

How about a map?

OK, here's one from the 1960s showing a section of the planned national Trunk motorway network in the South Lancashire and North Cheshire area.

Can I comment on this motorway?

Of course! Contact me and I'll put them here!

Have any other visitors commented?

Simon writes:

I think they should rename the M62 west of Manchester as the M52 as it was originally intended to be, in order to eliminate the stupid situation of two M62s that exists now the M60 has taken the middle bit.

Ben Adams writes:

A lot of people say its mad having 2 M62s now that the M60 is orbital but it makes more sense to have one number all the way around plus it gives the opportunity to revoke an old number for the western section of the M62; namely call it the M52 and have done with it!

Robert Patten:

A couple of people have commented that the M62 has been split up by the M60 ring road.  While this is technically true it is worth pointing out that the M60 was numbered so that the former M62 junction numbers would line up with the (now) M60 junction numbers.  So although the road number changes, the junction numbers are consistent when travelling from one side of the M62 to the other.

James has an interesting piece of trivia [July 08]:

You may be pleased to hear that Cherie Blair comments on the M52 in her autobiography "Cherie Blair: Speaking for Myself".

In chapter four:

"... hitch-hiking was the only answer, and in fact it proved so successful that from then on I hitched all over the country.  When the M52 (as it was originally known) opened in 1973, I was among the first to benefit from it, standing on the slip road on that historic day with my thumb out, hitching a lift to Leeds."

So there you go!  Cherie was, of course, from Liverpool.  Let's hope she was standing before the chopsticks sign when she hitched on that day.


South Lancashire Motorway




25 miles

40 km


1973 - 76



Map Links:

Might Have Been Map

On other websites:

The Motorway Archive