M63 Manchester South Orbital Motorway

What's this then?

Ah, possibly the most well-known "Lost Motorway" that there is...

Where was it?

It kind of looped around the west and south of Manchester and formed a northern bypass for Stockport.

OK, tell me its story.

Hmm, OK.

The M63 was, as suggested above, a partial orbital of Manchester that was made up of several smaller bypasses.

Firstly, there was the "Stretford - Eccles Bypass" section of the M63, which took us south from the junction of M62 and M602, past the famous A6144(M) Carrington Spur and onwards, to the "Sale Eastern and Northenden Bypass", which took us up to the present M60 junction 2.

The first section of M63 started life as something else, though - M62!

Then came the "Stockport East-West Bypass", which started life as a simple upgrade to A560, but instead became part of the M63, and finally the section up to Bredbury and the then-M66 was completed in 1989. This final section includes one of the scariest junctions there is: the Bredbury Scissors - now M60 J26. If you are ever in the area - try it!

Sounds a bit dull really. Is that it?

As usual, not quite.

An eastern extension of the M63 was planned with three extra junctions heading in the direction of the the present eastern end of the M67, as the Bredbury Bypass. However, this was never completed.

Have you got some maps that show the M63?

I should think so!

Can I comment on this motorway?

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

Have any other visitors commented?

Garry Brown:

The first part of the M63 was opened in I think the early 60s from Chester Road Stretford to Court House Worsley.

It had the great merit of bypassing Trafford Park, with a lot more industry and associated traffic in those days, and the Barton swing bridge over the Ship Canal, often opened to ships to and from the busy docks. Though apparently only of local significance, it enabled traffic from most of S. Manchester a much faster route to the A6 at Walkden for going to such as Blackpool.

The original northernmost end is now part of the slips at M60 Jcn 13.

Wayne owns up to something confusing about the M63:

I haven't been there since the M60 renumbering, but I used to live in Stockport in the mid-90s, and was always confused by the signs between Stockport and the Hyde roundabout. Unfortunately I can't remember *exactly* how it went, but heading north, the M63 became the M66 with barely a sign, and the junction numbers went something like: j13 M63, j14 M63, j13 M66, j12 M66. This was even less justifiable when you knew that M66 only existed for 3 or 4 junctions anyway!

Mike Hindson-Evans helps out:

Your correspondent is correct in remembering the "seamless" transition, from the east-bound M63 past Stockport, where a huge blind left-hander sweeps you up onto the M66 (now all M60 of course) and on Northwards under the wide railway bridge. Incidentally, the formation at this point is so wide because of the planned A6(M) coming up from Offerton (I know that you have this covered elsewhere). I lived in Sale from 1992 to 2004 and well remember thinking that the A6(M) would have been a boon to Bredbury, Hazel Grove and points South-East.

Nicholas Lawley:

And that sign [on this page] is still there - almost a decade after the M63 ceased!!! (the sign I'm referring to is the one at the top of the page). It's on the south side of the roundabout at junction 10 - the Trafford Centre junction. In fact, there's another sign on the roundabout which also says Stockport M63!

Paul adds to the M63/M66 confusion:

Following on from the comments of Wayne and Mike Hindson-Evans, I remember a little about the funny stub of the M66 near Stockport.

I understand that all along there had been the intention of the M66 joining the Bury area to Stockport, and the two ends of the motorway were built, with the intention of building the bit in the middle later.

By the time the bit in the middle was built, the decision had been made to renumber the whole motorway the M60, so the two ends of the M66 never joined up.

This missing bit did cause confusion. I did not know my way around Manchester that well 20 years ago, and lived at the bury end of Bolton. I was trying to get home from Romily (near Stockport) and spotted a sign the said "M66". Aha - that goes near home thought I. Imagine my disappointment when one junction up the motorway just ended.

I thus nominate the M66 as the most pathetic of the motorways ever built - a motorway where the two ends have been built, with just the small matter of the middle bit missing.

Whilst David Unwin adds clarity to the situation [March 08]:

The junction at Bredbury between the former M63 and M66 motorways which gives rise to the sharp bend on the now M60 was originally intended to be a motorway crossroads. As already stated the M66 from the north was to continue south as the A6(M) to by-pass Stockport and Hazel Grove. There was also a scheme planned to continue the M63 eastwards to replace the A560 through Woodley and Gee Cross, rejoining the A560 dual carriageways at Hattersley. Alas, this was another plan which came to nothing but it does explain the strange layout of the former M63 approaching Bredbury. The sharp curves on the now M60 were actually only intended to be slip roads connecting two through motorways, the M63 and the M66 / A6(M). That also explains why free-flow links were never provided at the M66 (now M60) and M67 junction at Denton. The roundabout was intended for local traffic only, the through traffic towards South Yorkshire would have used the non-existant M63.


Manchester South Orbital Motorway





15 miles

23 km


1961 - 89



Map Links:

Might Have Been Map

See Also:



M65 - Yorkshire



On other websites:

The Motorway Archive