M650 Airedale Motorway

Where was it?

Near Keighley, Yorkshire

There's no motorway there!

True enough - but there was meant to be...

I see... Yet another "unbuilt motorway"?

Yes, that's it.

Well, get on with it!

OK, the M650 was initially proposed in 1968 to bypass the Aire Valley towns of Keighley and Bingley, and would have ended near Shipley. However, the Ministry decided to keep things under its collective hats for a while, and the proposal was only published in December 1973. It lasted almost exactly twelve months.

What happened?

Simple really - it was something easy to kill off during the Oil Crisis of the 1970s, and so it was slowly watered down, with a revised proposal in 1975 to a simple dual carriageway bypass. However, the Public Inquiry for this route ended up being abandoned due to disruption, and a mildly revised proposal then raised its head in 1978. It too was killed off by 1980 and so continued the on, off, on again nature of improvement to the roads in the Aire Valley which finally ended up in the A650 Bingley Relief Road, opened in 2003.

It's a bit odd, though, all alone in this valley in Yorkshire

True enough, but if you look carefully at a map of the area, you'll notice a couple of things...

What things?

Well, you're quite close to the northern side of Bradford - and the story of the Bradford North Radial Motorway is told on the M606 page.

If you go a little to the west, over the Lancashire border you come to the town of Colne, eastern end of the M65.

Now put two and two together...

Ah, I get it! Another motorway link across the Pennines!

Bingo! You're good, aren't you?

It was apparently a desire of Lancashire County Council to gain an extra route over the Pennines, but there was far less enthusiasm on the Yorkshire side. If the M650 had been constructed, there would have been this rather odd 10 mile gap between...

I have my moments. Anyway, how's about getting a proper look at that map showing the route then?

OK then, here you go...

Can I comment on this motorway?

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

Have any other visitors commented?

Stuart Mitchell:

Having driven a lot down the A650 from Skipton to Bradford, this has to be one of the most needy bits of improvement in the UK. Leeds/Bradford is a huge conurbation but the roads to the north are dire. Bingley bypass does go some way (and it is a pretty impressive road) but a continuation of the M65 is really what was needed.

The M650 was the first motorway (as far as I know) to be heckled to non-existence! Yet improved cross-pennine links would have dramatically improved the economy of Bradford.

James Fletcher adds [July 08]:

Adding to Stuart Mitchell's comments it would have done wonders for the Lancashire valleys of Burnley, Colne and Nelson, not to mention Gateway to the Dales Skipton. I used to do this route every weekend for 3 years, the section through Bingley was dire, Bradford was no problem!


Airedale Motorway




10 miles

16 km





Map Links:

Might Have Been Map

Maps courtesy of Toby Speight