Northern and Western Motorway


The Northern & Western Motorway is a real "might have been" moment in the development of the British motorway network. At the time of its proposal, it attracted great interest from the public at large, but was eventually killed off by a combination of disinterest from the Government, and the power of the railways.

The date? 1923.

That's erm, what, 35 years before the first motorway opened, right?

Yes, that's right. And as you might expect, the Northern & Western Motorway would have looked quite different from the motorways we know now.

However, today it's just a minor footnote in the motorway histories - almost forgotten and unknown to the public at large. Even in Dr. Charlesworth's book, "A History of British Motorways", it rates less than a paragraph.

Was it the first British motorway proposed?

Despite the claims of various documentation, no, it wasn't. It was preceded a year earlier by a cross-London motorway, and in 1906 a London - Brighton Motorway was proposed. None of these proposals got anywhere either. It was, however, the first long-distance motorway proposed in the United Kingdom, being around 226 miles in total length.

In common with all early motorway proposals, it was nothing to do with the Ministry of Transport, or indeed any branch of the Government. It was, instead, a private enterprise by the Northern and Western Motorway Company, whose offices were listed as being at Windsor House, Victoria Street, Westminster. Rather ironically, one of the organisations having offices in Windsor House in 2009 is Transport for London...


1923 and all that >>

Northern & Western Motorway


1923 and all that

Justification of the motorway

The Route

Construction and Use

Reaction to the motorway


Maps and Plans