The Secret History of the Motorway

What of the Future?

In writing notes about what should go here, I wrote:

Not a lot really, nothing much likely.

The history of motorway construction has been a long and rocky journey, full of policy changes, of political and public opinion, and of unfulfilled dreams.

There's a few things planned for the future: the Newport Southern Bypass in Monmouthshire for one, originally announced as a second toll motorway, though that status is unclear at the time of writing. Once the A1(M) work is complete in Yorkshire, and the recently announced M54 - M6 - M6 Toll Link (which may or may not be a motorway) there's not a lot on the horizon in England, whilst the Scottish network will be complete when the currently announced schemes are complete.

The only real possibility for new motorways in the United Kingdom is in Northern Ireland, where cross-border communications need improving, and indeed the Government in the Republic has offered to pay towards some schemes in the North.

That's all rather depressing.

As a nation, we've completely fallen out of love with the motorway - the affair has long since lost its sparkle, and what's left is a kind of messy lifestyle where we just kind of put up with the state that the network's in. There's no longer the 1950s and 1960s way of forward planning, and everything is short-term, with no guarantee that if one Government announces a scheme, that its successor won't simply cancel it.

The history shows us that things change, and that policy and opinion go in cycles, so what of the next 50 years? Who knows, eh?

The Secret History of the Motorway



Early Struggles

Indifference to Acceptance

The Tide Turns

The Special Roads Act

The Preston Bypass

The M1, M10 and M45

The Motorway Age

Plans, Big Plans

Low Priority

Last Hurrah

Much Ado About Nothing Much

What of the Future?




Maps and Plans


Further Reading


See Also:

50 years of Motorways