A6144(M) Carrington Spur

Where was it?

West of Manchester, just off the M60 at junction 8.

Can you show me that on a map?


What makes this a pathetic motorway?

Well, it's the latest in a line of downgraded motorways - the blue signs came down on May 24, 2006.

Were you to travel down it today, you might never realise that it was once a motorway...

Why is that?

Firstly, it is single-carriageway throughout. That's right, one lane each way. There's even arrows painted on the road surface to make sure that you remember.

Going down this motorway was certainly a weird experience.

At the western end, the motorway ended at a set of traffic lights.

At the eastern end, there was once a pair of tiny roundabouts at the junction with the M60, Manchester's Orbital Motorway - which have now been replaced with a single large roundabout.

There's no hard shoulders, just two lay-bys in the middle, one for each side.

So it was all bad then?

Not at all. The Carrington Spur was in fact, a masterpiece of planning.

Why is that then?

Well, simple really.

The original plan for the Spur involved a normal everyday dual carriageway motorway. It is mentioned in its own right in planning documents from the early 1970s, and as part of a larger scheme before that. In common with many projects of the time, it was canned in the mid 1970s. You can see just how early on it was planned - there was a junction number left free on the M63 for it.

However, the Spur refused to die.

It was resurrected on the cheap in the 1980s, and a single carriageway was laid down, with the possibility of later dualling.

Now here's the clever bit - it was still under motorway regulations...

Why was that so clever?

To answer that question, you need to consider the point of the Spur when it was built. There is a large industrial area at Carrington to the west, and prior to the opening, the heavy traffic had to drive through the residential areas of Sale on the A6144.

Now, you're in an area that is unfamiliar to you.

Do you:
a. Drive through a residential area on a non-primary A road
b. Choose to follow the nice blue line on the map.

Obviously, the answer is b.

This is the true genius of the A6144(M) - the ability to relieve the residential areas of Sale in a way that a regular single-carriageway road could not.

Today, of course, since the downgrade of the motorway that may well be no longer true. I wonder if anyone at Trafford Borough Council has thought that one through...

Can I see some more photographs?

Of course!

Can I see some video footage?

Here's what it looks like to drive down. both westbound and eastbound - bizarre, isn't it?

As a special treat for folk with broadband connections, here's some higher quality westbound and eastbound videos. Beware, as they are over 14MB each!

Can I comment on this motorway?

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

Have any other visitors commented?

Cillian Howlett:

I saw some photos and video footage of the A6144(M). But where is the motorway, I didn't see one! Now, I presume the road shown wasn't it. If it was, how could it pass for one, its just an ordinary road. Well, I suppose people can always make mistakes and pick the wrong colour [sic] and get the number wrong. My defence for this road is very primitive but in desperation somebody has to do something for it. Its sad!!!

Robert Henshaw states:

I certainly agree that this road is pathetic. There have been a number of serious accidents due to the single carriageway. One point I would mention. End of Motorway signs are correctly positioned prior to the traffic lights. The lights are therefore on the A6144 and stopping on 'red' does not contravene any Motorway Regs

Pathetic Motorways would like to point out is that whilst that's true, a queue of two cars would leave the second one stationary on the main line of the motorway...

Chris Pearson points out:

But to stop on the motorway at or because of a red signal is not an offence. Otherwise the peak time signals at M62/M1 would be illegal, as would the signals at M180/M18, or any of the motorway dot-matrix or VMS fitted with flashing red signals, which incidentally, mean "do not proceed in this lane" if over a particular lane, or if its a singular one, "do not proceed in any lane".

So there! :-p
*places thumb on nose and waggles fingers*"

Hmm... Chris is, of course, completely correct. I still stand by my assertion that it's a pathetic way to end the main line of a motorway, though!

Duncan Harper adds:

Oh gosh! I was shocked to see this. Yes you're right about this - A6144(M) is a really PATHETIC route ever I seen in my life. (No I have never been on that route before) To get rid of any confusing, I suggest they should "downgrade" that route from A6144(M) "motorway" to A6144"A-road" by remove the "M" word & replace the blue signs to green signs. There. Oh! What a waste of taxpayer's money to label that single lane road as a "motorway". That's a disgrace!

Alex Richardson comments:

I think that the A6144(M) should never have been made a motorway because there no hard shoulders just the odd lay by and the odd telephone but the main thing about it is that it is a one two lane road all the way from start to finish and it even looks like a A road and the only things that makes it a motorway is that it has blue motorway signs and it has a link to the M60 and if Trafford Borough Council remove the Motorway restrictions from the the road it would save public money and spend it on more useful things.

I will point out that removing motorway restrictions from the A6144(M) will actually cost money, as the revocation orders have to be made out, all the blue signage needs to be replaced with green (or white!), and every sign that refers to the A6144(M) must also be changed...

Phil Lloyd adds:

Urgh - having just seen the footage - quite bizarre. Looking at the markings on the carriageway it appears that as the central hatchings are bounded by broken white lines it is quite permissible to overtake on the wrong side of a motorway! (Hatchings indicate that you should not enter unless safe to so do).

Gavin Hudson:

Just a comment on the ol' A6144(M).

I used to drive down here every day to work in Carrington, the reason it's a motorway, is that if you get on at the (infamous) traffic lights, you then have no choice but to get on the M60 in either direction. If it were an 'A' road, then mopeds and the like would pootle up it and have nowhere to go at the end. Hence it has to be a motorway.

The most infuriating thing about it, is that it has no 'national limit' or similar signs to let you know what the speed limit is, so all the less educated types tend to think it is a 40 limit or something (as it has street lights all the way, and is just two lanes) so I always get stuck behind someone doing 40 on a clear road. Frustrating.

You do, however tend to see the odd car going (very) fast up it, however, as the Man City and Man Utd training grounds are about half a mile away at the end, so it's not unusual to be tailgated by a black X5 or overtaken by a Ferrari doing 100mph. In fact just the other day Gary Neville was sat behind me at those lights."

Phil Reynolds responds:

Gavin Hudson says that if you get on the A6144(M) at the traffic lights, you have no choice but to get on the M60 in either direction.

That's not strictly true of course - you could always come back towards Carrington.

Signs stating 'No through road for non-motorway traffic' would make that clear - without this crazy piece of road needing to be a motorway.

Have you noticed how all of the single-carriageway motorways are at least partially in Lancashire?"

Neil Worthington replies:

Phil Reynolds responds:

'Gavin Hudson says that if you get on the A6144(M) at the traffic lights, you have no choice but to get on the M60 in either direction.

That's not strictly true of course - you could always come back towards Carrington.'

Yes indeedy - but not if you're driving a 44 tonne artic! The pathetic roundabouts at junction 8 just aren't big enough to let you make a 180 degree turn. You can turn left and join the M60 clockwise. Or you can turn right and join the M60 anti-clockwise. And, er, that's it. So that's my theory for why this is a Motorway and not just another boring old A road.

But as you report, it's all going to be dug up very soon, and junction 8 will become a conventional two bridge junction with much wider radius curves. And the A6144 will lose its (M).

Oh yes, and there's even a nice big footbridge to let pedestrians get over this pathetic motorway safely. It leads to the TransPennine Trail, the local sewage works and not much else. It's roughly here.
Good eh?"

Peter Whatley has some information about the original plans for the A6144(M):

Pathetic the Carrington Spur may be now, but when designed it was intended to form a grand network of motorways around the Altrincham and Sale areas south of Manchester. Old A-Z maps of Manchester show the spur paralleling the A56 trunk road and eventually joining the direct connection planned from the M6 via the M56 at Bowdon to the M62, crossing the Manchester Ship Canal and then paralleling the M62 as far as the Rochdale area as a separate 'express' M62 while the existing motorway became (as it now does) a slower Manchester ring motorway. The A6144(M) original plans were for full motorway dual carriageway throughout and a major junction where the M63 (ex M62, now M60) was joined. Alas, the motorway suffered from the Great British Planning Disease and only this sad section was built. Originally, the centre markings were ordinary white lines, leading to some 'interesting' situations...

Dom McKenzie:

I use the A6144(M) ‘Carrington Spur’ each day to get from my home in Sale to the clockwise M60.

When it opened there were 2 head-on fatal collisions in its first week of use!

However, I am a football lover and as far as I know this is the only motorway after which a football team was named. In the two seasons after the A6144’s opening there was a local football team in the Manchester League who went by the name of Carrington Spurs FC. After that they disappeared – presumably defunct!

Johnny adds to the furore:

Neil said: 'Yes indeedy - but not if you're driving a 44 tonne artic!
The pathetic roundabouts at junction 8 just aren't big enough to let you make a 180 degree turn. You can turn left and join the M60 clockwise. Or you can turn right and join the M60 anti-clockwise. And, er, that's it. So that's my theory for why this is a Motorway and not just another boring old A road.'

Well, you can go straight at the first RBT and right at the next.
Then, although you are on the sliproad to the M60, the sliproad splits (right = M60, left = A56 without touching any motorway at all!)

Russell Oakes:

I was travelling along the M60 at the A6144(M) Junction [April 2005] and saw that there were brand new matrix signs with the A6144(M) BOLDLY written on it! Has the A6144(M) been given a lifeline?

Chris Saunders has had an even more fun experience in France:

I remember going around the old M63 in the early 90's and passing under the A6144 (M). I thought I saw the two way signs at the top of the slip. Intrigued by this on the way back I deliberately came off at this junction to drive along the A6144 (M) and could not believe what I was seeing. The problem was I was not expecting the road to end at traffic lights and then I had to find somewhere to turn around.

However it was not the first single carriageway motorway I had driven on. In the mid 80s I drove along a single carriageway motorway to the south of Nantes in western France. This was even better as it had a suicide lane in the middle, now that was scary. Since then the French have upgraded it to normal motorway standard.

Simon Challands takes a detour:

I've driven past this hundreds of times in the last few years, and ignored it until I saw this site, found out it was not to be motorway for much longer, so I just had to take a quick trip down. You are the inspiration for a pointless long cut home. It is, without question, pathetic for a motorway.

Brian Lace has also taken a recent trip:

Drove down it for the first time last week - all very odd, but what I really didn't expect were the mini-roundabouts at the M60 junction!
Probably due to the roadworks, but little 'painted-on dinner plate' style minis have been added at both ends of the junction - very weird, and just a little bit scary under motorway restrictions...

Colin Sharples:

'It appears that Trafford Borough Council are planning on removing the motorway restrictions from the A6144(M) when the M60 widening is complete'

This is indeed true and we are going to put the pathetic little thing out of its misery.

Once we work out how to do it, it's a bit of trail-blazing.

I don't think downgrading the existing A6144, is under consideration, although I believe there are night-time weight limits around sale to get HGVs onto the "Spur."

Getting rid of the "M" status will allow Trafford to carry out "normal" road works & use traffic lights at road works. They also intend to restrict types of vehicles to bar non-motorway type traffic. I think the only differences anyone will notice are a lower speed limit and different coloured traffic signs.

Mike Hindson-Evans has a couple of little facts:

A couple of nuggets about the A6144(M). My former house was built in 1992, as part of a small estate called Churchfields, backing onto the A6144(M) and protected by a huge earth bund. It's now hidden behind a line of Leylandii. The A6144M/A6144(M) had opened on December 1st 1987, when Churchfields as still Barracks Farm, bounded by Barracks Lane to the south. West of the A6144M, the former Barracks Lane proceeded across a bridge over the outfall from the sewage farm, to the Rugby grounds. In the winter of 1992-1993 and again in 1993-1994, we had the odd "drunk" leaving the Rugby club, staggering over the old bridge, ACROSS THE A6144(M) and then falling over the fences of the estate whilst trying to get to Carrington Lane and, thence, into Sale.

This matter was resolved when some local tearaways nicked a Nissan Primera, stuck it on the old bridge and torched it! End of bridge, plus the end of drunks in the middle of the A6144M.

I went back to Sale recently and caught up with the M60 widening works. The A6144M is still a narrow, dangerous anachronism but hey, we're British! we like the oddities of life!

The real problem is that. when the road needs to be swept, the drains cleared and the undergrowth on the verges hacked back, the whole road needs to be closed. The good news is that the duration of closure has reduced, from all weekend in 1993 to about six hours on a Saturday morning.

Paul Steane:

The A6144(M) seems to have been re-instated [July 2006], at the M60 end at least! There is an official-looking but temporary sign reading


propped in front of the nice new official




Carrington Spur





1.2 miles

2 km




May 24, 2006



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